COVID-19 Vaccine

CentraCare encourages all Minnesotans to get a vaccine against COVID-19

Making an Appointment for a Vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine is available for all patients ages 6 months and older. To schedule an appointment:

  • Call CentraCare Connect at 320-200-3200 to schedule an appointment at MOST CentraCare locations.
  • Call the below numbers for appointments at Willmar Main and New London Clinic CentraCare locations:
    • Willmar Main: 320-231-5000, ext. 48600
    • New London: 320-354-2222
  • Receive the vaccine during a primary care clinic visit

Booster Doses Available

CDC recommends that people ages 5 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, whether that was:

  • Their final primary series dose, or
  • An original (monovalent) booster

People who have gotten more than one original (monovalent) booster are also recommended to get an updated (bivalent) booster.

Patients eligible for a booster dose can schedule an appointment by calling:

  • CentraCare Connect at 320-200-3200 for MOST CentraCare locations
  • Willmar Main clinic at 320-231-5000
  • New London clinic at 320-354-2222

CentraCare’s goal is to encourage everyone to feel informed about the vaccine and to ensure it is distributed in a fair and equitable manner.

We encourage you to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for additional answers to vaccine and COVID-19 questions. The CDC also shares information from a study about the effectiveness of the vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Topic: Booster Doses

Question: What are these new COVID-19 boosters, and how do they differ from the existing ones?
Answer: Until now, COVID-19 booster shots have been monovalent or univalent, meaning they only contained one version of the mRNA sequence for the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ spike protein — the one that came from the original strain which emerged in late 2019. The latest boosters are considered bivalent vaccines. That means they contain the mRNA sequence for the spike protein of two strains of SARS-CoV-2:

  • the original strain from Wuhan, and
  • the current predominant subvariant of Omicron, BA.5.

Question: What is a bivalent vaccine?
Answer: A bivalent vaccine is a vaccine that stimulates an immune response against two different antigens, including viruses. For example, COVID-19 bivalent vaccines help protect you against infection with two different messenger RNA (mRNA) components of the COVID virus: one of the original strain and another of the Omicron variant.

Question: Why do I need the new COVID-19 bivalent vaccine booster?
Answer: The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine at preventing infection or severe illness will decrease over time and receiving a booster will give you even better protection about the COVID virus. This is similar to how an influenza vaccine is given every year to provide a boost to your immune system for the strains that are most likely in the community. Also, the latest booster dose can protect against the Omicron variant, which is causing most new COVID-19 infections.

Question: Who is eligible for a bivalent COVID-19 booster shot?
Answer: Anyone ages 5 years and older for the Pfizer bivalent booster.

You only need a single booster shot of the bivalent vaccine to be considered fully boosted, but you’re not eligible to get it unless you’ve already been fully vaccinated with either Johnson & Johnson/Janssen’s original one-shot regimen, or Pfizer or Moderna’s original two-shot regimen.

You’re eligible to get a bivalent booster shot two months after you’ve been fully vaccinated.

Question: How long should I wait to get the new booster if I recently had COVID-19?
Answer: The CDC recommends the new vaccine as a single booster dose at least two months following your most recent COVID-19 vaccine. (Your primary provider may advise doing it sooner or later based on your individual risk factors.)

Question: Can I get my bivalent COVID-19 booster and my flu shot at the same time?
Answer: Yes. Currently the CDC recommends that if a person is eligible, both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit, without regard to timing. If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, speak with a health care provider. Please also check to see if you need any other immunizations.

Topic: Kids and Vaccine

Question: Why should children be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Answer: Children are less likely to get very sick, but serious cases can and do occur, even in healthy children. COVID remains a top 10 cause of death in children, and during the most recent surge, children ages 0-4 years have been the most affected by severe disease. We have already seen the success of COVID vaccination in preventing severe disease in children ages 5 years and older. We now can help prevent severe disease in our youngest patients.

Question: What information was used to determine the vaccines for children are safe and effective?
Answer: The FDA and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices continue their rigorous review of safety and efficacy data presented to them by the makers of these vaccines. For our youngest patients, we have also been able to compare their vaccine response to older children and have once again found these vaccines to be safe and effective. The most common side effects for children 6 months to 2 years are like any other vaccination: sleepiness and fussiness. Children 2-5 years of age are more likely to have pain at the site of the injection and fatigue. Some children do develop fever which seemed to be more common in those receiving Moderna. All symptoms lasted around 1-3 days and self-resolved.

Topic: General Vaccine Safety

Question: Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have had an allergic reaction to other types of vaccines?
Answer: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you have had an immediate allergic reaction, even if it was not severe, to a vaccine or injectable therapy for another disease, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated.

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, you should not get vaccinated. If you had a severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the second dose. Check with your primary care provider as you may be eligible for the Novartis vaccination which has different ingredients.

Question: Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have allergies not related to vaccines?
Answer: The CDC recommends that people with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications (such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies) get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions may also get vaccinated.

People who are allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Question: If I have an underlying health condition, can I get the vaccine?
Answer: There is currently no data suggesting having an underlying health condition is a reason to avoid getting the vaccine. In fact, those with an underlying illness or health condition are at an increased risk of developing severe side effects or hospitalization due to COVID-19.

Question: Can I get the vaccine if I am immunocompromised?
Answer: It is safe to receive the vaccine if you are immunocompromised, but you may not get as strong of a protective response. You should address your individual concerns with your primary medical provider. There may be additional treatments (Evusheld) to decrease the chance of severe COVID-19 for you.

Question: How do we know these vaccines are safe when they are so new?
Answer: Absolute safety cannot be guaranteed, but vaccines are only approved after extensive studies and if they are believed to be safe and effective.

COVID-19 vaccines have been tested in large clinical trials to assess their safety. While it does take time to learn about potential rare or long-term side effects, as of May 1, more than 200 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States. Safety monitoring continues for all vaccines.

Question: What ingredients are in the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: For a full list of ingredients, review the fact sheets for the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine and Novavax vaccine.

Question: How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: According to clinical trials, all of the available vaccines are extremely effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19.

Topic: Getting the Vaccine

Question: Which COVID-19 vaccine is CentraCare administering?
Answer: CentraCare has access to the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Administration of a particular vaccine on any given date will depend on allocation. The best vaccine is the one that is available to the patient. We will not be able to guarantee a specific vaccine at any specific clinic.

Question: How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine do I need?
Answer: The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for adults and children over age 5 require two shots. The first shot starts building protection, but the second dose ensures the most protection the vaccine can offer. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine requires one shot.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years old is one-tenth the dosage given to adults. It is a three-shot regimen; children would receive two doses three weeks apart, and a third dose at least two months later.

Question: Will I get sick after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: Systemic side effects are common and were reported in clinical trials — especially after receiving the second shot in those with a two-dose series. Most symptoms are considered mild to moderate, but some recipients may not feel well enough to do daily activities.

Common side effects include pain/swelling/redness at injection site, fever, chills, tiredness and headache. Most side effects take place within a day or two of getting the vaccine. It’s important to remember the vaccine cannot give anyone COVID-19. Side effects are a sign the immune system is working.

Question: Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have had COVID-19 and recovered?
Answer: While natural infection does provide protection for some period of time, the degree of and individual's immune response and length of protection is unknown. As a result, even those who have had COVID-19, should plan to get vaccinated when able. The vaccine is believed to be more effective at preventing disease than one’s natural immunity. Hybrid immunity describes a situation where you have protection caused by the disease and by vaccination and this can provide an increased level of immune response for many people. Learn more

Question: Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have received another vaccine within 14 days?
Answer: It is recommended that you do not receive other vaccines 14 days before or after administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Question: How soon can you be vaccinated after a COVID-19 diagnosis?
After a COVID-19 diagnosis, you may wonder how long you need to wait until you can get a first COVID-19 vaccination, booster or second dose in a series.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a 90-day waiting period is not necessary, even for patients hospitalized for COVID-19. You can obtain the vaccination as soon as you complete your isolation period and your symptoms are improving. This means it has been 10 days since you felt sick (or 10 days since you got tested if you do not have symptoms), and you feel better and have not had a fever for at least 24 hours.

However, the one exception is for people being treated with monoclonal antibodies. These patients should delay vaccination for 90 days.

People should consider a vaccination after a COVID-19 diagnosis. We do not know how long immunity lasts and how immunity might vary depending on the severity of the illness. We also do not know how variants may affect people who had COVID-19.

If you have questions about the timing of vaccination, check with your primary provider.

Topic: After the Vaccine

Question: How long does it take for the vaccine to provide full protection?
Answer: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart. You need to have both doses to achieve the highest level of protection. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine requires only one dose, but also takes a couple of weeks for immunity to build up after administration. People who are vaccinated should continue to social distance, wear masks and wash your hands.

Question: How long does protection against COVID-19 last once I receive the vaccine?
Answer: We do not know how long protection will last following vaccination. Further ongoing clinical trials will provide us with more information over time.

Question: Do I still have to wear a mask and avoid close contact after I have had the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: Yes. Research is still being done on how long immunity lasts and whether people can spread the virus after vaccination. Until more information is collected, it will be important to continue to use all of the tools we have to protect ourselves and others against the spread of COVID-19.

Question: Can I donate blood after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: The Red Cross is following FDA blood donation eligibility guidance for those who receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Please check with your blood donation agency for their specific guidance related to your vaccination.

If you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll need to provide the manufacturer name when you donate. Upon vaccination, you should receive a card or printout indicating what COVID-19 vaccine was received, and we encourage you to bring that card with you to your next donation.

Topic: COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy/Breastfeeding

Question: Is it safe for me to get the vaccine if I am pregnant or of child-bearing age?
Answer: Pregnant and breastfeeding women have been excluded from vaccine clinical trials, but the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine — along with our CentraCare obstetric providers — recommend pregnant and breastfeeding women be offered the vaccine. This is because pregnant women are more at risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19. The science behind these vaccines does not suggest any additional risk of adverse effects specific to babies or women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding.

Question: If I am breastfeeding, is it safe to get the vaccine?
Answer: The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine reports that there is no reason to believe the vaccine affects the safety of breastmilk. When we have an infection or get a vaccine, our bodies make antibodies to fight the infection. Antibodies formed from vaccines given during pregnancy do pass into the breastmilk and then to the baby to help prevent infections. Since the vaccine does not contain the virus, there is no risk to the breastmilk.

Question: Does the vaccine have any effect on fertility?
Answer: There is no evidence or scientific concern that the vaccine could impact fertility. In fact, recent studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccine does not cause sterility in men or women. On the other hand, studies have shown that catching COVID-19 (not the vaccine) does affect fertility. In short, the virus itself may pose a greater risk to fertility than the vaccine.