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COVID-19 Vaccine

As we continue to fight COVID-19 in our community, the hope of a safe, effective vaccine is now here.

Because the supply is very limited, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is prioritizing which groups get the vaccine until large quantities of vaccine are available. At Presbyterian, we are finishing up our first and second dose vaccinations of health care workers under Phase 1A and are closely following the DOH guidelines as we work to expand vaccinations to Phase 1B groups. Presbyterian is preparing to expand our own vaccination sites, as well as increase our ability to vaccinate high-risk patients in our clinics when adequate supply is available.

You can register for the vaccine through the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) registration tool. When the vaccine is available for you, NMDOH will then send you a notification to schedule your appointment.

Register Now with NMDOH

We encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they become eligible because it is a key step in saving lives and ending the pandemic. We recognize this is a personal decision, though, and that many people have questions about the vaccine. Here are some trusted resources to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety:

NMDOH COVID-19 vaccine information
CDC COVID-19 vaccine information

Over the next few months, we urge everyone to continue wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and washing your hands frequently.

Thank you for doing your part.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The decision whether to receive the vaccine is your choice and you are not required to talk with your provider before you receive it. You should consider your own personal risk of getting COVID-19 when considering vaccination. A conversation between you and your provider may help you with your decision about the vaccine.

How do the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines work?

COVID-19 vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses, so your body will be ready to fight the virus, if you are exposed (also called immunity). Your immune response can cause some symptoms or side effects, but this leads to immunity against the actual virus. There is no live COVID-19 virus in these vaccines and there is no way for the vaccine to give people COVID-19.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. mRNA vaccines have been studied for more than 20 years. This type of vaccine uses your body to briefly produce a viral protein to train your immune system in recognizing the COVID-19 virus. In most cases, your immune system can then fight off the virus and prevent the COVID-19 illness.

The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to prevent approximately 95 percent of COVID-19 disease after the second dose.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

The FDA releases fact sheets and safety information of COVID-19 vaccines approved for Emergency Use Authorization. Visit the CDC and FDA websites for the most recent information about the vaccines approved for use. You can also read more about the vaccine on the New Mexico Department of Health website.

What are possible side effects of the vaccine?

You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may feel like flu and may even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Clinical studies of the vaccine did not show serious side effects, but if you get the vaccine you could experience:

  • Injection (shot) site reactions (like a sore arm)
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Fever*

*If you get a fever after receiving the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends talking to your doctor about taking an over the counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and dress in light layers to help you stay comfortable.

To help reduce any pain or discomfort where you got your shot, you can apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area. Moving or exercising your arm may also help.

Call your provider if:

  • The redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases or grows 24 hours after you got it.
  • Your side effects are worrying you or do not go away after a few days.
  • Your temperature is 100°F or higher.

What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

The COVID-19 vaccine, like many vaccines, has gone through several phases of tests with volunteers. So far, the tests have not included people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. We do not yet know if the vaccine is as effective in pregnant people as it is for those who are not pregnant. We also do not yet know if the vaccine has specific risks or side effects for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or to unborn babies. However, based on how the vaccine works, experts believe it is unlikely to pose specific risks to these groups. The vaccine does not have ingredients that are known to be harmful to pregnant people or to unborn babies.

Here is information about COVID-19 mRNA vaccine and breastfeeding:

  • Experts believe that there is no reason to believe that the vaccine affects the safety of breast milk. There is no reason to stop breastfeeding if you get the vaccine.
  • We know that antibodies formed from other vaccines or from an infection do pass into the breast milk and then to the baby to help prevent those infections, and this is thought to also be true for the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals.

When, where, and how can I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

The first doses of the vaccine will be distributed on a very limited basis for now. Federal and state officials will determine when and how New Mexicans who want the vaccine can get it. You can register for the vaccine through the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) registration tool. When the vaccine is available for you, NMDOH will then send you a notification to schedule your appointment.

What if I want to get the vaccine right away but I’m not in the priority population?

You can still register for the vaccine through the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) registration tool. When the vaccine is available for you, NMDOH will then send you a notification to schedule your appointment.

What should I expect after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may feel like flu and may even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.

Remember, you will need two shots in order for the COVID-19 vaccine to work. Make sure you get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first one, unless your healthcare provider tells you not to. The COVID-19 vaccine may not protect you until a week or two after your second shot.

  • The second Pfizer dose should be given approximately 21 days after the first dose.
  • The second Moderna dose should be given approximately 28 days after the first dose.

If a second dose is delayed beyond the recommended schedule, the second dose can be administered up to 42 days later, according to CDC’s released guidance

After I receive my vaccination, am I fully protected against COVID-19?

Not quite. No vaccine is 100 percent effective. Currently, both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are reported to be over 95 percent effective, which is extremely promising. This means that nine out of ten people who are vaccinated will not become infected if exposed to COVID-19.

Even after you receive both doses of your vaccine, continue to cover your mouth and nose with a mask when you are around others or in public places, stay at least six feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often. This gives you and others the best protection from catching the virus. Right now, experts don’t know how long the vaccine will protect you and we know not everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away.

Will I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine? How much will it cost?

You should not have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine if you choose to get it. The CARES Act passed by the U.S. Congress requires that the vaccine be administered with no cost share. This means that most patients and members should not have to pay copays or coinsurance for either of the two doses needed to achieve immunization. However, the CARES Act does not apply to some self-funded employer plans so you should check with your employer to be sure.