Vaccine Information

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccinations

The following information comes from the COVID-19 Incident Management Team. This FAQ contains the best information we have at this time. It will be updated with new information over time, as more details become available.

Are school staff members required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. The vaccine is optional.

When are school staff likely to receive first doses?

The first round of vaccines took place starting Wednesday, January 13. Educators in the region, who qualified under OHA’s Phase 1A of Oregon’s Phase 1a Vaccine Sequencing Plan, were invited to schedule a vaccine.

Those current K-12 employees who did not receive a vaccine during the first round are now eligible to receive a vaccine.

When can individuals who are not school staff members receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

At this time, the vaccination campaign is limited to eligible education employees. Your friends and family members can fill out the vaccine interest form at vaccine.deschutes.org and be notified when they are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Will staff who are vaccinated continue to wear PPE?

Yes. The vaccine is one layer of protection against transmission of COVID-19. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, frequent hand washing and staying at least six feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following the CDC's recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.

Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines are being made available in phases to assure the highest benefit to the community. Phase 1a focused primarily on frontline health care workers, long-term care facilities and other emergency responders who are at high risk of infection by COVID-19. This safeguards the health care system and focus the initial efforts on those who most need the vaccine. This initial phase was expanded to include other essential workers and people at very high risk for hospitalization or death from COVID-19. K-12 school staff were accelerated to Phase 1b by Governor Brown in January. It is anticipated that supplies of the vaccines could be sufficient to provide to the general population in the late spring or early summer of 2021.

In what instances should I delay my first vaccine?

If you are currently in quarantine due to a COVID-19 exposure, please wait until after your quarantine period ends to attend a vaccine appointment; If you have had a COVID-19 infection, please wait 30 days from when you were released from isolation before receiving the vaccine; and/or if you have received another vaccine, such as the flu shot, please wait 14 days after before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please contact your physician with any additional questions.

Will there be enough vaccines for everyone?

There was a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of 2020, but the vaccine supply is expected to increase gradually throughout the first half of 2021. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as quantities are available.

How many doses of the vaccine are needed?

Most of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in phase three clinical trials in the United States require two doses to be effective. Doses will be administered about three to four weeks apart. Dose spacing varies depending on which version of the vaccine is being used. There is one vaccine currently in testing that requires only one injection.

How long after receiving the vaccine will I develop immunity and how long is the COVID-19 vaccine effective?

Based upon the information we currently have; immunity will develop within weeks of receiving the second dose of the vaccine. We will not know how long immunity lasts until vaccine recipients are followed over longer periods of time. This will also help determine whether further booster doses are required. Studies to further explore this and the duration of the immunity are ongoing.

If I get the vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19? 

No, you will not test positive for COVID-19, but you will test positive for the antibodies.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines?

No, the vaccines do not contain the live COVID-19 virus and cannot give someone COVID-19.

Once vaccinated, is it possible for someone to still be a carrier?

This is unknown, although the likelihood of carrying the disease to others is significantly reduced if a person is not actively infected. Until studies provide more information, persons who have been vaccinated should still follow protocols to reduce the possibility of transmission.

Can those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant get the vaccine?

Those who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant as well as those who are breastfeeding were not included in vaccine trials and the risk to the baby is unknown. More information is forthcoming from FDA and WCIP review. You are encouraged to speak to your OB prior to making a vaccine decision.

What is herd immunity? What percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to have herd immunity for COVID-19?

Herd immunity or community immunity is a term to describe when enough individuals have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that there are so few susceptible people in a community that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can continue to spread widely and infect others. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people do not have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. At this time, experts do not know what percentage of people would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19, but current estimates are that at least 75% of people within a community will need to have immunity to begin controlling the pandemic.

What are the most common immune responses to the vaccine?

Mild or moderate immune responses to the vaccine can include, but may not be limited to, fatigue, nausea, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and headache. These immune responses, which are more common after the second dose of the vaccine, are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do— building up protection to the virus.

What are the long-term effects of the vaccine?

The long-term effects of the vaccine are unknown, including how long it provides immunity. Patients in vaccine studies will continue to be monitored by the FDA and the CDC for 24 months to allow researchers to learn more about these impacts. If a safety issue is detected, immediate action will take place to determine whether the issue is related to the COVID-19 vaccine and what the best course of action may be.

What are the risks of the vaccine?

Based upon information currently known, the risk of this vaccine causing serious harm or death is small, but possible. This vaccine, like any medicine or vaccine, could cause a serious problem such as an allergic reaction. The COVID-19 vaccines are new, and some effects may not yet be known.

If I already have COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated? How long does natural immunity last?

There is not enough information to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. Some people have been infected more than once, especially if their initial infection was mild. Given these unknowns, we do recommend that caregivers and providers be vaccinated even if they have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Can children receive the vaccine?

At this time there is no vaccine approved for use in children under 16, but studies are underway.