Vaccine FAQs

St. Louis County Public Health, along with hospitals, pharmacies, tribal health, the State of Minnesota, and several other health systems, are administering COVID-19 vaccines. Below are answers to the questions we hear most about vaccine appointments and the vaccines themselves.

How/where can I get vaccinated?

Any Minnesotan age 12+ is eligible now to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

To make an appointment, we encourage you to contact your medical provider or pharmacy, or visit St. Louis County Public Health vaccine registration . Find other vaccine options near you through the State's vaccine locator.

You also can register through the Vaccine Connector to receive information about where and how you can get the vaccine.

 If you still have questions please call the St. Louis County COVID information line at 218-625-3600.

Any individual or organization previously identified as being in Phase 1a or 1b who has not yet been vaccinated can receive priority scheduling by contacting VaccineScheduling@StLouisCountyMN.gov 


St. Louis County Public Health is following three guiding principles in administering vaccines:

  • Vaccinating for impact to decrease morbidity and mortality,
  • Ensuring equitable distribution
  • Maintaining transparency throughout the process.

The vaccination is free and will eventually be available to everyone. Please be patient.

What options are available to get my child vaccinated?

Currently there is no vaccine approved for children ages 0-11.

Youth ages 12-17 can receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is approved for ages 12+. This is a two-dose vaccine, spaced 21 days apart. MDH guidance on Pfizer vaccine for people under age 18.

Note:  A parent or guardian must accompany the juvenile to the vaccine clinic to sign the consent for vaccination and screening form.

o   An exception will be made for anyone under age 18 who answers “yes” to any of the following questions:

1)      Are you living apart from your parents/guardian and managing your own financial affairs?

2)      Are you currently or have you ever been married?

3)      Have you given birth to a child?

If the answer to all three of these questions is no, the minor must have a parent/guardian consent to the vaccination.

How do I make an appointment for my second dose?

If you received your first dose at a St. Louis County Public Health clinic, we will send you an email a few days before you are due for your second dose. Usually this email comes the weekend before you should go in. Be sure to check your junk folder if you do not see the email. If you have not received an email by Monday of the week that you are due, please call 218-726-2623. 

I did not receive a confirmation email when I tried to register. What should I do?

You most likely are scheduled, so please do not schedule yourself again. To confirm, please email us at VaccineScheduling@StLouisCountyMN.gov and let us know which clinic date and location you tried to sign up for (ex. Eveleth Curling Club, 3/31/2021). We can search your name in our system to confirm that you are signed up. If you do not hear back from us before your appointment time, please still go to the clinic.

I received an email to schedule my second dose, but have a conflict that day. Can I reschedule?

Yes. We recommend you reschedule as close to the recommended second dose date as possible. When rescheduling, email us at VaccineScheduling@StLouisCountyMN.gov and provide the following information:

  • Which vaccine you received for your first dose (Pfizer or Moderna)
  • When you got your first dose, and
  • Which city you received your vaccine in (Duluth/Hermantown, Eveleth, Virginia, Hibbing, etc.)

If you received the Moderna vaccine, you should wait 28 days (4 weeks) in between doses. If you received the Pfizer vaccine, you should wait 21 days (3 weeks) in between doses. For both vaccines, there is a grace period of about 42 days for when you need to receive your second dose. This means you have 21 days after day 21 to get your second dose, and 14 days after day 28 to receive your second dose of Moderna. Current recommendations are to take the second dose as soon as possible even if it is past those parameters thought the efficacy is undeterminable at that point and it is not advised currently to restart the series. We also do not recommend scheduling your second dose for more than 2 days in advance of when you are due.

Can I request a particular kind of vaccine?

On our registration page, we list the brand of vaccine offered at each clinic, so choose a clinic that offers the vaccine you want, if you have a strong preference. All of the vaccines are authorized for emergency use after extensive testing showed they are safe and effective.

Two important notes:

Only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for 12-17 year olds; the others are for ages 18+. If you are registering someone age 12-17, be sure to register them at a clinic administering the Pfizer vaccine

What is St. Louis County’s role in COVID-19 vaccine administration?

Local Public Health is one of multiple health systems working in partnership to administer the vaccine. 

As has historically been the role of Public Health, we are working to ensure underserved populations who are eligible for the vaccine receive it. Additionally we are administering vaccines to employees of organizations that fall within the state’s identified priority groups.


If you still have questions about vaccine appointments, please email vaccinescheduling@stlouiscountymn.gov or call 218-726-2623.
 
Currently three vaccines have been approved for emergency use.  The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one dose.
 

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines have undergone rigorous safety testing. Scientists from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have reviewed all information from the testing process and determined the vaccine to be safe.

All the usual steps have been taken to make sure the COVID-19 vaccines are safe. To speed up the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, drug manufacturers built upon previous research, used new and faster methods, and was able to begin making the vaccine in advance.

Experts continue tracking vaccine safety information once vaccines are given in real-life conditions to make sure they are working as expected.

What are the side effects or long term effects of the vaccine?

The most common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are mild and temporary. They include fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. You may experience some or none of these side effects. When mild side effects occur, they are a normal sign your body is building protection to the virus. If these minor side effects occur, it’s most likely a day or two after getting the vaccine, and go away in a few days. It is more common to experience these side effects after the second dose.

Because a very small percentage of people who’ve received the vaccine have experienced an allergic reaction, individuals are asked to wait for 15 minutes at the vaccination site to be monitored by medical staff so they could be treated if necessary. 

There are no known long term effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. 

How does the vaccine work?

Currently, three different COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for emergency use. These vaccines cannot give you COVID-19 and they do not affect or interact with your DNA in any way.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines and requires two doses. You will get one shot, and then a second shot 21-28 days later (depending on if the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is used.)  It is necessary to get both doses of the same vaccine to be fully protected. These vaccines do not contain any live or dead COVID-19 virus. Instead, it uses spike protein RNA, which teaches the immune system to recognize the COVID-19 virus and destroy it before it can infect you.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. This means it uses a modified version of a different, harmless virus to deliver important instructions to our cells. It then use the cell’s machinery to produce one COVID-19 virus protein known as spike protein. The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, you body's immune system recognizes this protein and blocks the virus from infecting you.

Do I have to get vaccinated?

No. Because the COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), no one can be forced to get it. However, we strongly encourage you to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to you. Getting vaccinated helps protect you and your family, co-workers, residents, patients, and community. It’s also how you can help end the damage to the economy, and eliminate and eradicate COVID-19.

Will I ever have to prove I’ve been vaccinated?

Your vaccination status is your personal data and providers are not able to provide this information to others. However, this information will be available to you to provide to others as proof of vaccination, should an employer or others require this and you are willing to provide your personal vaccination history. No one else is legally able to access your personal vaccination data.

Like all personal health information, COVID-19 vaccination status is protected by federal and state law. Vaccine providers and public health agencies can track who is receiving the COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that all vaccinated people receive both doses of the vaccine, and that the most vulnerable populations are offered the vaccines first. Your COVID-19 vaccination status will be entered into the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection. You will also get a card documenting that you received the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Can I get the vaccine if I'm pregnant/breastfeeding?

Yes - a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding can get vaccinated but should speak with her health care provider first to understand what is known about their situation and vaccination. New data show the antibodies produced after vaccination are found in the breast milk and may help protect infants from COVID-19.

 

Do I still need to social distance and wear masks if I get the vaccine?

Yes. For now, even those who’ve been vaccinated should continue to wear masks and practice other prevention steps. This is because scientists don’t yet know for certain if the vaccine prevents asymptomatic virus spread. In other words, the vaccine protects you from getting sick, but it’s unclear if a vaccinated person could still spread the virus to others.

If I’ve had COVID, do I still need to get vaccinated?

You should get vaccinated even if you have had COVID-19. Because of the newness of the virus, it’s not known how long a person has immunity after experiencing COVID-19.  It’s also not known if being previously infected will make the next infection better or worse.

If your illness was confirmed by a PCR test in the past 90 days, it is okay to wait to get vaccinated. In order to conserve doses when they are limited, you may be asked to wait for the 90-day period.

How long does the vaccine last?

At this time, we do not know if this will be a vaccine that people need to get again, (like needing a tetanus shot every 10 years or getting a flu shot every year.)

Does the vaccine cause infertility or sterility?

There is no evidence the vaccine can cause sterility or infertility. There is also no biological mechanism that would lead to sterility or infertility in COVID-19 vaccine recipients. This myth originated from unscientific sources and hypotheses not supported by scientific fact.

Can I get COVID if I take the COVID vaccine?

No. Because the vaccine does not contain any live or dead version of the virus, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. At 95% efficacy, the vaccine is extraordinarily effective at protecting you from the virus.

Will the vaccine change my DNA?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. The mRNA in these vaccines directs the production of specific proteins that your immune system will recognize as viral proteins and subsequently generate a protective immune response. Neither the mRNA nor protein has the ability to change your genome and does not enter the nucleus, where the DNA is located.

Does the vaccine contain a microchip or tracking device?

No. This is myth that has circulated on the internet. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and can prevent you from getting a severe case of COVID-19. 

Why should I trust the government on this?

St. Louis County Public health, like all public health agencies, provides unbiased information and resources to residents of the county we serve. COVID-19 vaccines have been produced by non-governmental private companies, and the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines has been monitored by an independent monitoring board. In addition, public health experts at universities, and medical and pharmacy practitioners have uniformly recommended COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible populations to combat this deadly disease. 

We encourage you to check with your health care provider to ensure you are getting accurate and up-to-date vaccine information from a credible source.


Want to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines?