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COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs

Vaccination is the best way to avoid serious illness due to a COVID-19 infection. MaineHealth doctors recommend that people age 12 and older get vaccinated as soon as possible. As of 9/21/21:

73% of our hospitalized COVID-19 patients* are unvaccinated

40 Patients Hospitalized  23 in Intensive Care 12 on Ventilators 

11 Vaccinated
29 Unvaccinated

3 Vaccinated
20 Unvaccinated

2 Vaccinated
10 Unvaccinated

Vaccine Eligibility


Who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination at MaineHealth?

People age 12 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination at MaineHealth. You do not have to be a Maine resident or a MaineHealth patient. View our walk-in vaccination locations.

What is a third dose and how can I get one?

Third doses are for seriously immunocompromised people only. The CDC recommends a third vaccine dose for seriously immunocompromised people (for example, if you have had an organ transplant or are receiving active cancer treatment). This recommendation is based on evidence that suggests immunocompromised people may not have gotten enough of an immune response from just two doses and will be better protected by a third dose.

  • MaineHealth practices are currently giving third doses to those who need them. If you are seriously immunocompromised and have not already been contacted, please call your MaineHealth primary care provider for more information. 

What is a booster dose and how can I get one?

As you have likely heard, Pfizer recently applied for approval of a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine to be given six months after the second dose. This week, the FDA authorized, and today the CDC recommended that:

  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series
  • People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series

CDC further stated that:

  • People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer at least 6 months after their primary series based on their individual benefits and risks, and
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine 6 months after their primary series

If you are unsure whether you should receive a booster, please contact your primary care provider to discuss your situation and determine if a booster dose is right for you.

What is the benefit of a COVID-19 booster?
Booster doses are meant to “boost” an immune response which may have declined after the initial vaccine series, and many available vaccines require boosters. Evidence shows that immunity begins to wane 6 months after Pfizer vaccination. Rest assured that you do not have to get the booster exactly 6 months after your initial series, but getting the COVID vaccine booster will assure that you maintain your protection against severe disease and hospitalization.

What if you received the Moderna or J&J COVID-19 vaccine?
The current approvals and recommendations from the FDA & CDC apply only to the Pfizer vaccine. Moderna is expected to have their application for booster authorization reviewed shortly, and J&J has indicated that they will also present data to the FDA on the efficacy of a booster dose in the coming months.

How do I get a Pfizer COVID-19 booster appointment?
MaineHealth is offering booster shots through our primary care offices to eligible patients who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago.

  • Call 877-780-7545 to schedule your booster appointment. Hours and availability will vary by location.
Thank you for your patience as we navigate this rapidly changing situation. We urge you to stay safe by continuing to follow CDC guidance: wear a mask indoors in public settings or gatherings, continue to practice hand hygiene and get a booster if it is recommended for you. Thank you for doing your part to protect yourself, your family and your community during this time.

 

 


Vaccination Appointments


How do I make an appointment?

COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available, but not required.

  • Pre-scheduled Vaccination Appointments: Complete this form to request a pre-scheduled vaccination appointment.

We will ask for your date of birth, zip code and phone number. We will not ask for your full social security number or credit card information.

How do I change or cancel a scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

Call 1-877-780-7545 and follow the prompts to change or cancel your appointment. You will be asked to provide your:

  • Phone number
  • Zip code
  • Date of birth
  • Existing appointment information

What about the second dose appointment?

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require a second dose. If you receive one of these vaccines at a MaineHealth clinic, we will help you schedule your second appointment while you are still in the clinic. You will need to return to the same location for your second dose. 


About the Vaccines


Are the vaccines safe?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. MaineHealth doctors recommend that you get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Common Side Effects

Some people have no side effects. Others have reported common side effects after COVID-19 vaccination, such as:

  • Swelling, redness, and pain at injection site
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Nausea

More serious side-effects are extremely rare. The risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 infection is much greater.  Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety.

If infection rates are rising, does that mean the vaccines are not effective?

The vaccines are extremely effective. Studies show they are:

  • 99% effective in preventing deaths
  • 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations
  • 65% - 95% effective in preventing infection

The current rise in infections is mostly among unvaccinated people who have been diagnosed with the Delta variant. While a very small number of vaccinated people have also become infected with the Delta variant, they usually have only mild symptoms. Unvaccinated people who become infected with the Delta variant are experiencing:

  • More severe illness
  • More hospitalizations
  • Increased death rates

What if I am pregnant or breast feeding?

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.

Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.

Did you know?

  • There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.
  • Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people.
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Which vaccine brand is better?

Right now, the soonest available vaccine is the best vaccine. All three vaccines have been shown to be very effective at preventing serious illness due to COVID-19.

If you are age 18 or older, we can't predict which vaccine will be available at your vaccine appointment. People under the age of 18 will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

If I have already had COVID-19, should I get the vaccine?

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. Scientists are still studying how long COVID-19 protection lasts after vaccination. After you are fully recovered from your illness, vaccination can help protect you from getting sick again.

It is thought that people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared with having had COVID-19. One study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than 2 times as likely than fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 again.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Learn more about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination.

How long does it take for the vaccine to become effective? Do I still need to wear a mask after that?

In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

After you get the vaccine, it is important to continue practices that help limit the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask indoors in public to protect yourself and others from the highly-contagious, Delta variant.

Learn more about protecting yourself and others.


Vaccination of Children 


Should I vaccinate my child?

MaineHealth recommends that everyone age 12 and older get vaccinated to help protect against COVID-19

Children 12 years and older are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Consent by a parent or guardian is required. Although fewer children have been infected with COVID-19 compared to adults, those numbers are increasing.

Children can:

  • Be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Get sick from COVID-19
  • Spread COVID-19 to others

The FDA has granted full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech (COMIRNATY) COVID-19 vaccine for people age 16 and older. This vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for people age 12 through 15. Learn more about the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

Did you know?

  • COVID-19 vaccines have been tested under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, which includes studies in adolescents.
  • Your child cannot catch COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine, including the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • It is safe for your child to get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines during the same visit or without waiting 14 days between vaccines.

Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination for children and teens.

What about children under 12?

COVID-19 vaccination is not yet available for children under 12 years of age. Children between the ages of 2 and 12 should:
  • Wear a mask in public spaces and around people they don’t live with
  • Practice good hand hygiene

If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you’ve taken the first step toward protecting yourself and your family. To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent spreading it to others, you should still wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

Wearing a mask is most important if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. If this applies to you or your household, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area.

Learn more about protecting unvaccinated household members.

Can children without COVID-19 symptoms spread the virus?

Yes, even those without symptoms, can spread the virus. Many cases have been traced to sporting events and other activities for children. Vaccinating as many people as possible is essential to stopping the spread of COVID-19.


Vaccine Access


What if I live in NH?

The Memorial Hospital COVID-19 vaccination clinic is open to residents of any state age 12 and older. Appointments are not required, but may be requested by calling 603-356-0673, option #2 or visiting Vaccine.Mainehealth.org.

Memorial Hospital care team members are also available to vaccinate on site at your business or community organization. Contact Will Owen at 603-356-5461, ext. 2038 or wowen@MemorialHospitalNH.org.

Can I get help with transportation to my vaccine appointment?

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has announced a free transportation option for Maine residents who need a ride to and from a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.
  • You must have a vaccination appointment before requesting a ride.
  • Face masks are required.
  • Rides are available for appointments scheduled Monday through Saturday from 7:00 am - 4:00 pm.
  • You must call 1-855-608-5172 at least 48 hours before your scheduled appointment time, to reserve a ride
If you live in Lincoln County and require transportation to the vaccine clinic in Boothbay Harbor, please contact LincolnCovidVaccine@MaineHealth.org.

How much does the vaccine cost? Do I need insurance?

The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost. A fee for administration of the vaccine will be billed to your insurance carrier with no out-of-pocket cost to you. Please bring your insurance card to your appointment. If you are a Medicare or Medicare Advantage patient, please bring your Traditional Medicare ID (the red, white, and blue card) to your appointment.

How can I get a copy of my COVID-19 vaccination record?

We will give you a COVID-19 vaccination card at the vaccine clinic, after you are vaccinated. It is important to keep this card in a safe place. Consider taking a picture of it with your mobile device. If you lose it, and need proof of vaccination:

  1. Complete our Authorization to Release Protected Health Information form
  2. Return the completed form via e-mail, fax or mail
  • Email: MHMedicalRecords@mainehealth.org
  • Fax: 207-761-3092
  • Mail: MaineHealth, Health Information Management Department, 301C US Route One, Scarborough, ME 04074

Note: You will not receive a new CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. You will receive a record of your recent immunizations, including the COVID-19 vaccine. This is an accepted record of vaccination status.

Questions? Call 207-662-2211 Monday – Friday, 7:30 am to 4 pm or email MHMedicalRecords@mainehealth.org.


Vaccine Resources

Walk-In Vaccination Locations

Ready for your first COVID-19 vaccine dose? No appointments are required at our walk-in vaccine clinics.

* Excludes patients who were admitted with an unrelated health care need, coincidentally tested positive for COVID-19 and do not require treatment.