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If you live in Lancaster County, you can now register to receive your COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more and get answers to vaccine questions.

Don’t put off the essential care you need because of COVID-19. We continue to safely schedule office appointments, surgeries and procedures so you can get the care you need now. We can even help you find a doctor.

For everyone's safety, masks are required for everyone in our facilities. This includes visitors and patients (except in special circumstances).

COVID-19 Vaccine

Curious about the COVID-19 vaccine?

Learn about the vaccine, get answers to common questions and find out what myths aren't worth believing from health experts.

Register for COVID-19 Vaccine

You must be a Lancaster County resident.

Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department vaccine registration:

  • Complete online form (available in English and Spanish)
  • Information will be used to determine what vaccination phase you are in
  • When vaccine is available for your phase, you will be contacted to set up an appointment

If you don't have internet access, call LLCHD COVID-19 hotline at 402-441-8006.

Register for Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccine

Updated January 8, 2020

NOTE: Medical information in these FAQs is based on limited data that is rapidly evolving. It is general information only and should not be construed as specific medical advice for individual patients.

Vaccine Development

How were the vaccines developed?

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are mRNA vaccines, which stands for messenger ribonucleic acid. This type of vaccine is manufactured in a cell-free environment. For example, you may have heard that some vaccines, like influenza vaccine require eggs to develop. mRNA technology does not—it is cell free and allows manufacturers to rapidly produce large quantities of vaccine.

Since these vaccines were developed so fast, were any steps in the approval process skipped?

No. mRNA technology is not new—the many years of research allowed the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine to occur.

What is the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the vaccine?

Planning for the Vaccine

How do I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

At this time Bryan is only receiving vaccine designated for our employees and providers. We do not know if we will receive vaccine for other groups or how vaccine for other groups will be distributed. When the vaccine is available for the next group, the local news will provide information on how to receive the vaccine.

Here is the Federal plan as of December 22, 2020.

  • Phase 1A - health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
  • Phase 1B - persons age 75 and older, frontline essential workers.
  • Phase 1C - persons age 64-74 years, persons aged 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers.
  • Phase 2 is expected to occur later in spring 2021 and will include the general population.

How is the vaccine given?

The vaccine requires two doses and is injected into the shoulder muscle just like the influenza vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine doses are given 21 days apart; the Moderna vaccine doses are given 28 days apart.

Do I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine?

The government is providing vaccine doses to people across the country at no cost. There may be charges to administer the vaccine.

How will the vaccines be distributed?

Both the CDC and the state of Nebraska have comprehensive vaccine plans. These plans guide institutions on how to prioritize initial vaccine supplies. Plans are evolving and updated as new information becomes available.

Here is the Federal plan as of December 22, 2020.

  • Phase 1A - health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
  • Phase 1B - persons age 75 and older, frontline essential workers.
  • Phase 1C - persons age 64-74 years, persons aged 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers.
  • Phase 2 is expected to occur later in spring 2021 and will include the general population.

What age groups will be allowed to receive the vaccine? Can children get the vaccine?

The FDA Emergency Usage Authorization (EUA) for each vaccine determines the ages of children that can be vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine was studied in children as young as age 12, but it only has Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for children 16 and older. The Moderna vaccine was only studied in individuals 18 and older.

Will the flu shot I received protect me from COVID-19?

A flu vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. This can keep you from having a more severe illness. Getting a flu vaccine this year is more important than ever.

If I’ve recovered from COVID-19, do I need to be vaccinated? Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than protection from COVID-19 vaccines?

The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Early evidence—based on some people—suggests that natural immunity may not last very long, so the vaccine is still needed.

Vaccine Safety

Could the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No, this vaccine does not contain the live virus. It cannot cause a COVID-19 infection.

Will this type of vaccine change my DNA?

No. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, but the way they work does NOT alter our DNA. The mRNA technology was chosen because it is faster to produce very large amounts of vaccine than other traditional methods. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA) in any way. These vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease.

Will the vaccine cause me to have a positive COVID-19 test?

No, but it is possible that a recipient of the vaccine may have positive antibody tests.

Can the vaccine cause side effects? What are the common side effects?

Side effects are possible. The most common side effects reported are:

  • Pain and redness at the injection site
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swollen glands
  • Fatigue
  • Chills

In most cases these side effects were mild to moderate, but it is possible they will affect activities of daily living. These side effects are similar to side effects experienced in other FDA-approved vaccines. When they did occur, symptoms most commonly appeared within the first three days and resolved within one to three days after that.

What ingredients are in the vaccine?

The ingredients in the two mRNA vaccines with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) are:

covid19 vaccine ingredients

Should pregnant women receive the vaccine?

Pregnant women with COVID-19 may have an increased risk of severe illness or pregnancy complications due to this infection. Data is currently very limited on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people. Limited data from animal studies revealed no safety concerns in rats that received Moderna COVID-19 vaccine prior to or during pregnancy. Studies in pregnant people are planned and the vaccine manufacturers are following outcomes in people in clinical trials who became pregnant. mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines. The mRNA in the vaccine is degraded quickly by normal cellular processes and does not enter the nucleus of the cell. Based on current knowledge, experts believe that mRNA vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to the pregnant person or the fetus. However, the potential risks of mRNA vaccines to the pregnant person and the fetus are unknown because these vaccines have not been studied in pregnant people.

When making a decision, pregnant people and their health care providers should consider the level of COVID-19 community transmission, the patient's personal risk of contracting COVID-19, the risks of COVID-19 to the patient and potential risks to the fetus, the efficacy of the vaccine, the side effects of the vaccine, and the lack of data about the vaccine during pregnancy.

There is no recommendation for routine pregnancy testing before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.

Corwin Friesen, MD, Bryan Women's Care Physicians and Whitney, RN, and Expecting Mother, Explain Why COVID-19 Vaccine is Important for Expecting Mothers

Should breastfeeding women receive the vaccination?

There is no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating people or the effects of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines on breastfed infant or milk production. mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. A lactating person who is part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine may choose to be vaccinated.

Can the vaccine impair my fertility?

There is no data showing that the vaccine affects fertility. You may see rumors suggesting this, but it has never been shown. Women who were trying to conceive were excluded from the study. We know that most adverse effects from vaccines appear within two months of receiving the vaccine and most people in the study were followed for at least two months. The following statement comes from the CDC: "Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination." Please discuss with your health care provider if you have additional concerns.

I’m immunocompromised—should I get the vaccine?

This vaccine does not contain live virus, so it does not pose risk of infectious side effects regardless of immune status. However, the CDC states that persons with immunocompromising conditions might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. Data is not yet available to establish vaccine safety and efficacy in these groups. You may receive the COVID-19 vaccination if you have no contraindications to vaccination. This is a decision you should make after talking with your health care provider.

I have an autoimmune condition – should I get the vaccine?

Persons with autoimmune conditions were not excluded from clinical trials, but there is no data specifically available on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in these populations. Patients with these conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination may receive the vaccine.

I have a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome – should I get the vaccine?

To date, no cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) have been reported following vaccination among participants in the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines clinical trials. This history is not generally a factor that prevents most vaccinations. Persons with a history of GBS may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a contraindication to vaccination.

I have a history of Bell’s palsy – should I get the vaccine?

There were cases of Bell’s palsy among patients in the clinical trials for both vaccines, but the rate of occurrence was not higher than in the general population. They were not considered to be caused by vaccination. Persons with a history of Bell’s palsy may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine unless they have other contraindications.

I have allergies—should I get the vaccine?

There is a small chance that the vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction.

Patients should not receive the vaccine if they:

  • Have a history of severe allergy to components of an mRNA vaccine
  • Experience an immediate allergic reaction to the first dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Immediate allergic reactions are associated with a wide range of symptoms that may be different for each patient. These may include symptoms such as hives, itching, flushing, swelling of the face, mouth or throat, confusion, dizziness, weakness, breathing difficulties, drop in blood pressure or increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and others. (Not all side effects represent an allergic reaction -- your health care provider can help discern between allergic reactions and other types of vaccine side effects.)
  • Have experienced an immediate allergic reaction to polysorbate

There are no warnings under the EUAs against vaccinating patients with other allergies (e.g. food, pets, insect venom, environmental, latex, eggs, gelatin or oral meds) or a family history of allergies. CDC notes that a history of mild allergic reactions to vaccines or injectable therapies is not a contraindication or precaution to being vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccines.

If you have had severe or immediate allergic reactions to other vaccines or injectable therapies, or have concerns about potential allergic response to this vaccine, you should discuss risks and benefits with your health care provider.

Do I need to avoid getting other vaccines close to the time I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

CDC states “Given the lack of data on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines, the vaccine series should be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccines. If mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are inadvertently administered within 14 days of another vaccine, doses do not need to be repeated for either vaccine.”

What is this idea called herd immunity?

Herd immunity happens when a virus can’t spread because it keeps encountering people who are already protected against infection. Once a large portion of the population is no longer at risk, any new outbreak should halt. Experts estimate that in the U.S., about 70 to 80 percent of the entire population—more than 200 million people—must recover from COVID-19 to stop the pandemic from getting worse.

But, that level of infection will lead to large numbers of patients with serious long-term complications and millions of deaths. This is why the vaccine is so important. Our health care system cannot accommodate that many patients—we are overwhelmed now. When you get the vaccine, you help create herd immunity because the virus can’t spread due to the protection the vaccine provides.

Getting Vaccinated

Should I take ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) before getting my COVID-19 vaccine?

This is not recommended, since the impact on vaccine efficacy is unknown at this time. However, if you experience discomfort from side effects after the vaccination, you may take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Is the shot given the same way as the annual flu vaccine?

Yes, the injection is given in the muscle of the shoulder, just like the annual flu shot.

After Vaccination

If I get the vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask?

Yes, we all need to continue the same effective practices of wearing a mask, washing our hands and social distancing for the foreseeable future. We are in a long battle with a fierce enemy and we can’t let up, but hope from the vaccine is here.

How long after the second shot does it take for immunity to kick in?

The full effect of the vaccine can be expected for most people within 10-14 days after the second vaccination dose is given.

How long does immunity last?

It is not yet known how long immunity to COVID-19 lasts, either in a person who recovered from the disease or one who got vaccinated. It is possible that vaccines will require additional booster doses at some point after the first two doses.

Can I give blood after getting the vaccine?

According to the Nebraska Community Blood Bank, there is no waiting period to donate blood or plasma after receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. If you receive the Johnson & Johnson or Astra Zeneca vaccine (when available), a 14-day waiting period is required prior to donation of blood or plasma. You are not able to donate convalescent plasma if you are vaccinated.

Other Resources

Patient Fact Sheet for Pfizer Vaccine

Patient Fact Sheet for Moderna Vaccine

CDC Information on the COVID-19 Vaccine

General information about the COVID-19 Vaccine

Katie Packard, Bryan pharmacist

COVID-19 Facts, Myths and FAQs

Katie Packard, Bryan pharmacist

Vaccine Development, Common Myths and Important FAQs

Dr. Kevin Reichmuth, pulmonologist with Nebraska Pulmonary Specialties

COVID-19 Mutations/New Strains

Dr. James Nora, infectious disease specialist with Consultants in Infection Disease

Smiles, Happy Tears & Hope

Bryan administers first wave of COVID-19 vaccines to staff and doctors.

Corwin Friesen, MD, Bryan Women's Care Physicians and Whitney, RN, and Expecting Mother, Explain Why COVID-19 Vaccine is Important for Expecting Mothers


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