Frequently Asked Questions


COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in Black Hawk County, but we understand you may continue to have questions about who can get which vaccines, how you can get the vaccine, how well they work, and how safe they are. We follow guidance from IDPH and the CDC and try to keep everyone up to date on changes to vaccine-related information. Find answers to your questions below!

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine?

Everyone ages 5 and older is eligible for a primary COVID-19 vaccine series. All adults ages 18 and older can receive a Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine that can be administered to those under 18 years of age at this time. Children ages 12-17 receive the same dose of the Pfizer vaccine as adults, and children ages 5-11 receive a lower dose.

How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Call to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider. Vaccines are also available at local pharmacies. and are other resources for finding COVID-19 vaccines near your location. Your employer may also have a plan to hold a vaccine clinic at their facility. If you have a vaccine card or other record of previous COVID-19 vaccinations, bring that to your appointment.  

Check out our Black Hawk County vaccine information page:

Who can receive a booster shot?

The Pfizer booster is available to anyone ages 12 and older, and the Moderna booster is available to adults ages 18 and older. Both are administered 5 months after the primary vaccine series. The Johnson and Johnson booster is administered 2 months after the primary vaccine and can be given to anyone ages 18 and older. Additionally, you may choose to receive a booster dose of any of the three available vaccines, regardless of your primary series. Your eligibility and timing would be based on which vaccine you received for your primary series.  

More information about booster doses is available on the CDC website:

If there is a need for booster shots, is the vaccine still effective?

Yes, if you receive a primary COVID-19 vaccination series, you are considered fully vaccinated. The primary series will still protect against severe illness, long term complications, and death. However, the data has been showing more mild and moderate infections in some groups of people. The booster shots are being given so those who are most vulnerable can stay fully protected and reduce the overall burden of disease in the population.

What is the difference between “fully vaccinated” and “up to date?”

"Fully vaccinated" means that you are two weeks out from completing a primary vaccine series, regardless of the type (Pfizer, Moderna ,or Johnson and Johnson).  "Up to date" means you have received all vaccines you are eligible for at that time.  Those who are within 5 months of completing a Pfizer or Moderna primary vaccine series, within 2 months of receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, or who have received a booster shot from any manufacturer are considered "up to date." Additionally, you are considered "up to date" immediately after receiving a booster shot.  These definitions would include any additional doses that an immunocompromised person would be eligible for.  

How do I know which sources of COVID-19 vaccine information are accurate?

It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust. Learn more about finding credible vaccine information from the CDC:

If I am pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, may I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing COVID-19 and becoming hospitalized than people who aren’t pregnant. Additional risks include a possibility of premature birth and pregnancy complications. On the other hand, no serious side effects from the vaccine have been identified in pregnant women during the clinical trials and in those who have taken the vaccine afterward. As with any other health-related concern, pregnant individuals or individuals planning on becoming pregnant should discuss receiving the COVID-19 vaccine with their primary care provider.

Will the COVID-19 vaccines give me COVID-19?

The COVID-19 vaccines being developed in the United States do not use the live virus and cannot cause COVID-19. The goal of any vaccine is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight a virus. However, symptoms such as fever can occur after you get a vaccine. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work:

How long do I need to wait after getting a flu vaccine or another vaccine before getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including a flu vaccine, at the same visit. Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection, known as an immune response, and possible side effects after getting vaccinated are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause me to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests?

You won’t test positive on viral tests that are used to see if you have a current infection after getting the vaccine. However, some antibody tests might show you had a previous COVID-19 infection. This is because your body develops an immune response to the vaccine. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results. Learn more about COVID-19 testing:

I don’t want to get sick after my vaccine. Are the side effects really bad?

The side effects from COVID-19 vaccination may feel like the flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days and are nothing compared to the immediate and long-term effects of getting sick with COVID-19. Learn more about what side effects to expect and get helpful tips on how to reduce pain and discomfort after your vaccination. Read more about what to expect:

Will getting vaccinated help prevent me from getting sick with COVID-19?

While COVID-19 may only cause a mild illness for some, others may get a severe illness, or they may even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response quickly when exposed. No vaccine can prevent all infections, but the risks of getting COVID-19 and experiencing severe illness, death, or long term health problems related to COVID-19 are significantly reduced. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work:

Will I be able to afford the vaccine?

Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot. Vaccination providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. Read more here:

Will receiving an mRNA vaccine alter my DNA?

Messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, is most easily described as instructions for your body to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection to disease. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work:

After I have been vaccinated, I can stop wearing a mask, right?

It will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. This is especially important when we are in a period of high or substantial transmission in the community. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC's recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. To read more go to:

What can I do to protect myself until I am fully vaccinated?

Whether you have been vaccinated or not, it is still important to cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, to stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and to wash your hands often. For more information on prevention go to:

I already got the flu shot. Do I still need the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however flu vaccination is readily available, and has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. The community is encouraged to get vaccinated for both flu and COVID-19. Follow this FB page, as well as for local vaccine updates.

I already had COVID-19; do I still need to be vaccinated?

Getting COVID-19 might offer some natural protection or immunity from reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19, but it's not clear how long this protection lasts. Because reinfection is possible and COVID-19 can cause severe medical complications, it's recommended that people who have already had COVID-19 get a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are currently sick with COVID-19, wait until you have recovered from your illness before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information go to:

Is there a microchip in the COVID-19 Vaccine?

There is no vaccine microchip, and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database. This myth started after comments made by Bill Gates from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner, and is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

Most people don’t get that sick with COVID-19. Do I really need a vaccine?

A claim circulating on social media is that the COVID-19 mortality rate is 1-2% and that people should not be vaccinated against a virus with a high survival rate. However, a 1% mortality rate is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. In addition, the mortality rate can vary widely based on age, sex, and underlying health conditions. In contrast, the vast majority of COVID-19 vaccines have shown only short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve without complication or injury.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Learn how federal partners are working together to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. CDC has developed a new tool, v-safe, as an additional layer of safety monitoring to increase our ability to rapidly detect any safety issues with COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe is a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines.

Learn more about vaccine safety: