COVID-19 Vaccine (FAQs)

Many people are anticipating the arrival of a vaccine for COVID-19. Details are still being determined. Below is what we currently know about COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccine Availability

As of March 21, 2021 COVID-19 vaccination is available to everyone 16 years old (Saipan) and 18 years old (Tinian & Rota) living in the CNMI who chooses to receive it. Vaccine operations began in December 2020, with a phased approach to prioritize population groups that are at increased risk for getting COVID-19 and severe COVID-19 illness.

Each group became eligible for the vaccine one at a time based on completion of the previous phase and will continue to be eligible throughout the vaccine distribution. Our timelines plans are continually being updated and adapted as more information becomes available.

CHCC has received Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and the Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines are proven effective however, some of them are easier to handle (stored in most standard medical freezers) and ship (in smaller quantities). 

These characteristics allow us to broaden our CNMI COVID-19 Vaccination effort. Specifically, at this time the CNMI Health Official has determined the priority use of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine for the following target populations:

1) Homebound/bedbound population

2) Residents of Tinian

3) Residents of Rota

Additionally, the initial limited supply of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for persons 65 years and older living on Saipan. 

Once we have successfully vaccinated these populations, we will reassess our vaccination strategy to expand use of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to other populations and to assess coordination with private providers in the CNMI to become pre-approved vaccination locations.

Benefits of COVID-19 Vaccination

    • Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.
    • COVID-19 vaccination is a safer way to help build protection. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness.
    • COVID-19 vaccination will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic. Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

We encourage everyone interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine to talk to their doctor or healthcare provider before vaccination.

For more information please visit:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html

Vaccine Safety

Pfizer’s vaccine has been authorized for ages 16 and up. Moderna and Janssen vaccines are currently authorized for ages 18 and up. Clinical trials have begun for younger kids.

Administering a safe and effective vaccine is our top priority. We will rely on guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before we consider administering the COVID-19 vaccine in the CNMI. All COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different ages, races, and ethnicities. There were no serious safety concerns. CDC and the FDA will keep monitoring the vaccines to look for safety issues after they are authorized and in use.

Two of the three vaccines authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19 are require two doses. For the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the interval is 21 days between the first and second dose. And for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the interval is 28 days between the first and second dose.

The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine only requires one dose. 

The CHCC’s vaccination effort is informed by the available data and continues to support use of the required dosage of each vaccine at specified intervals.

Yes. If you receive a vaccine product that requires two doses, the second dose must be the same brand/manufacturer as the first dose.

There may be side effects, but they should go away within a couple of days. Possible side effects include a sore arm, headache, fever, or body aches. This does not mean you have COVID-19. Side effects are signs that the vaccine is working to build immunity.

If you are worried about side effects or if you don’t feel better after 48 hours seek medical attention.  Side effects include but not limited to:
*Chest pain
*Severe headache followed by confusion and blurred vision
*Nausea and vomiting
*Severe anxiety
*Shortness of breath or seizures
*Call 911 immediately if you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms

Common side effects from vaccination include pain, swelling or redness where the shot was given, a mild fever, chills, fatigue, headache, and muscle and joint aches. These side effects were also noted in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.

Because all COVID-19 vaccines are new, it will take more time and more people getting vaccinated to learn about very rare or possible long-term side effects. The good news is, at least 8 weeks’ worth of safety data were gathered in the clinical trials for all the authorized vaccines, and it’s unusual for vaccine side effects to appear more than 8 weeks after vaccination.

There may be side effects, but they should go away within a couple of days. This does not mean you have COVID-19.

    • Sign-up for V-Safe at vsafe.cdc.gov it is a smartphone-based tool that checks in on you after your COVID-19 vaccination.
    • Call the Vaccinate CNMI Call Center at (670) 682-7468 (SHOT)
    • If your symptoms don’t go away in a week, or you have more serious side effects please call the CHCC Tele-Triage Hotline available 24hrs a day at: (670) 233-2067
      • If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms such as chest pain, severe headache followed by confusion and blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, severe anxiety, shortness of breath or seizures please call 911 immediately.

Is there anyone who should not be vaccinated for COVID-19?

    • The COVID-19 vaccine will not be given to individuals with a known history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) to a previous dose or any component of a COVID-19 vaccine.
    • It is not recommended to get any vaccines around the same time as the COVID-19 vaccines. If you were recently vaccinated, including the influenza (flu), you should wait a minimum of 2 weeks before getting either of the COVID-19 vaccines.
    • Individuals who are not able to go to their dose 2 appointment will not get their dose 1.
      • Once you get dose 1 of the vaccine series you will automatically be scheduled for dose 2. Keeping your dose 2 appointment is important in ensuring maximum vaccine protection. We are not rescheduling patients who are unable to make their dose 2 appointment at this time.
    • Those younger than 16 years of age will not receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine while those younger than 18 years of age will not receive the Moderna or Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. 
    • People currently isolating or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; these people can get vaccinated once they are finished isolation and their primary symptoms have resolved.
    • The COVID-19 vaccine will not be given to individuals with a known history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) to a previous dose or any component of a COVID-19 vaccine.

    • It is not recommended to get any vaccines around the same time as the COVID-19 vaccines. If you were recently vaccinated, including the influenza (flu), you should wait a minimum of 2 weeks before getting either of the COVID-19 vaccines.

    • Individuals who are not able to go to their dose 2 appointment will not get their dose 1.

    • Once you get dose 1 of the vaccine series you will automatically be scheduled for dose 2.

    • Keeping your dose 2 appointment is important in ensuring maximum vaccine protection.

    • We are not rescheduling patients who are unable to make their dose 2 appointment at this time.

    • Those younger than 16 years of age

    • People currently isolating or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; these people can get vaccinated once they are finished isolation and their primary symptoms have resolved.

Yes! The CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19, because you can catch it more than once. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection will last.

Yes. Pregnant women may choose to be vaccinated. Since pregnant women are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, they should weigh the risk of COVID-19 (i.e.healthcare workers) with the risks of vaccination. We encourage everyone, especially pregnant women, to discuss vaccination with their doctor or healthcare provider.

COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been tested in pregnant women. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were tested in ~37,000 people, and there were no serious side effects. However, these vaccines were not tested in pregnant women. Some women did become pregnant during the study. No adverse events in the vaccinated pregnant women have been reported.

The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends: “COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP recommended priority groups.”

Guidance from The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology https://www.acog.org/en/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-advisory/articles/2020/12/vaccinating-Pregnant-and-Lactating-Patients-Against-COVID-19

The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine strongly recommends that pregnant individuals have access to COVID-19 vaccines. They recommend that each person have discussion with their healthcare professional about their own personal choice.

Pregnant women who experience a fever following vaccination should be counseled to take acetaminophen, as fever has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Yes. People with common allergies can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine will not be given to individuals with a known history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) to a previous dose or any component of a COVID-19 vaccine. It is still important to let your healthcare provider know about any latex allergies so they can ensure they do not use any latex containing products (ex. gloves) when administering the vaccine.

For more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/specific-groups/allergies.html

Getting Vaccinated

As COVID-19 vaccines are authorized and then recommended for use in the United States, it will be important to understand what is known about each vaccine. 

Currently, two vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:

If you receive a vaccine product that requires two doses, the second dose must be the same brand/manufacturer as the first dose.

The COVID-19 vaccine is being provided to us through the U.S. Government. The vaccines will be available at no cost to everyone living in the CNMI who chooses to receive it. The CHCC will attempt to bill insurance companies to cover the cost of vaccine administration. This is why insurance information is part of our registration process.

    • Register online at www.vaccinatecnmi.com
    • Register over the phone by calling (670) 682-SHOT/7468
    • On-site registration at IT&E Chalan Laulau is available for people (16+ on Saipan) who are not able to register online or over the phone
    • On-site registration at IT&E Chalan Laulau is available for future dates only
    • There is no on-site registration at MCATS
    • Parking is located across the CHCC campus on Navy Hill Road

You will need a Valid Government Issued ID (driver’s license or passport) and your insurance information (not required). People who register online will be promoted to upload a copy of their Valid Government Issued ID. If you are unable to upload an ID, call the Vaccinate CNMI Call Center for further assistance.

Bring a valid government issued ID (driver’s license or passport; international passports will be accepted) and your COVID-19 Vaccination ID. 

Please call the Vaccinate CNMI Call Center if you are unable to go to your dose 1 appointment. Rescheduling of dose 1 appointments are based upon available dates and spots.

We are doing our best to provide vaccination for everyone in the CNMI. Expect to be at your appointment for at least 45 minutes.

    • Stage 1 Verification: Have a valid driver’s license or passport and insurance card on hand
    • Stage 2 Vaccination: Receive your COVID-19 vaccine
    • Stage 3 Observation: Be monitored by healthcare staff for 15-30 minutes for any immediate side effects and get your COVID-19 vaccination record card for your next appointment!

After Vaccination

Yes. The CHCC and CDC recommend that during the pandemic people wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when in contact with others outside your household, when in healthcare facilities, and when receiving any vaccine, including a COVID-19 vaccine. While we are still in a pandemic, continue practicing the 3W’s: Wear a Mask, Watch your Distance, and Wash your hands!

Alcohol suppresses the immune system, so it would be advisable not to drink alcoholic beverages 24 hours after getting vaccinated. Moderate consumption of alcohol is always recommended, if people do choose to drink.

Some countries require proof of vaccination for certain diseases like yellow fever. It’s important to plan ahead to get the shots required for all countries you and your family plan to visit. At this time, it is unknown if getting the COVID-19 vaccine will be a requirement for travel. However, if you are planning to get your COVID-19 vaccine, please ensure that you are able to go to your dose 1 and dose 2 appointments (either 21 days for Pfizer or 28 days for Moderna) for maximum protection. We are not rescheduling patients who are unable to make their second appointment at this time. Getting the COVID-19 vaccines does not guarantee that you will be exempt from quarantine or other travel requirements. 

For more information about shots required for all countries visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/

People traveling are not being prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Traveling should not be a motivator for receiving the vaccine.  

While the vaccines appear to be highly effective at preventing disease, it might not prevent asymptomatic infection, meaning vaccine recipients might still be able to get infected, but not have symptoms and, therefore, unknowingly spread the virus. Vaccine manufacturers will be doing additional studies to better understand whether this is the case.

Every COVID-19 vaccine dose counts. Please ensure that you are able to go to your dose 1 and dose 2 appointments (either 21 days apart for Pfizer or 28 days apart forModerna).  Once you get dose 1 of the vaccine series you will automatically be scheduled for dose 2. We are not rescheduling patients who are unable to make their dose 2 appointment at this time.

Yes. We encourage people taking medication or antibiotics to talk to their doctor or healthcare provider before getting the vaccines.

There may be side effects, but they should go away within a couple of days. This does not mean you have COVID-19.

    • Sign-up for V-Safe at vsafe.cdc.gov it is a smartphone-based tool that checks in on you after your COVID-19 vaccination.

    • Call the Vaccinate CNMI Call Center at (670) 682-7468 (SHOT)

    • If your symptoms don’t go away in a week, or you have more serious side effects please call the CHCC Tele-Triage Hotline available 24hrs a day at: (670) 233-2067

If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms such as chest pain, severe headache followed by confusion and blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, severe anxiety, shortness of breath or seizures please call 911 immediately.

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