When Can I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

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By News Team on January 13, 2021

When can I get the vaccine? 

At Carilion Clinic, our top priority is to vaccinate as many people as quickly and safely as possible. We are coordinating with the Virginia Department of Health, local health departments and other health care partners to develop an efficient, effective rollout process—and to adapt quickly when supplies and other factors change.

VDH is currently prioritizing people in category 1a and 1b to receive the vaccine. The categories have recently changed in response to Gov. Northam's Jan. 14 update; they are currently as follows:

  • Phase 1a: health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities
  • Phase 1b: front-line essential workers, people age 65+, people age 16-64 who have underlying medical conditions, and people who live in homeless shelters, correctional facilities and migrant labor camps
  • Phase 1c (future): other essential workers

Visit the VDH website for information for and about each phase and category.

Can I sign up ahead of time to receive the vaccine?

Carilion will notify patients when we can schedule them for a vaccination. For the most current information, and for people who are not current Carilion patients, we encourage you to bookmark CarilionClinic.org/covid-19-vaccine and follow us on social media.

If you are in category 1b, you can indicate your interest in being vaccinated by filling out a survey in your health district:

Visit VDH’s website for more information about the vaccine rollout.

If someone doesn’t show up for their vaccine appointment, does the dose go to waste?

Carilion has made it an organizational priority to maximize the vaccines allotted to the health system through collaboration with local health departments and communicating between our hospitals to ensure no doses are wasted. We have formed multidisciplinary teams of organizational experts to align our supply with clinics to ensure that vaccines are deployed without delays.
However, every person who gets the vaccine plays an important role in the distribution. It is vital both for your health and for the rollout of the vaccine to others that everyone arrive on time for their vaccine appointment and follow up for their second dose as scheduled.

Should I get the vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?

Yes. While there is some immunity after recovering from COVID-19, the COVID-19 vaccines have the potential to induce a stronger and longer lasting immune response.

How long will the vaccine take to make me immune to COVID-19? 

Data from the studies on both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines shows that, on average, 95% protection against COVID‑19 occurs about two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine. On average, there is about 50% protection two weeks after the first dose.

What will it take to achieve herd immunity?

“Herd immunity” means enough of a population is immune to a disease to be able to protect people who don’t have immunity from becoming infected. According to Nathan Everson, clinical pharmacy specialist for infectious diseases at Carilion Clinic, the percent of a population necessary to reach herd immunity depends on the disease itself and how easy it can spread.
“Experts do not currently know the exact level of protection necessary to achieve herd immunity for COVID-19,” he said, “and estimates have changed as we have learned more about the disease.”
The most recent estimates are that 80-85% vaccination rates may be necessary to achieve herd immunity.

What side effects can I expect?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list common side effects as:

  • Pain and swelling at the injection site
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Check in with your primary care provider if your symptoms increase after 24 hours or last more than a few days.

For your own health and to help add to the growing body of vaccine research, be sure to register with the CDC’s after-vaccination health checker once you receive your first dose.

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See us safely at CarilionClinic.org/safe.