Frequently asked questions
Click each question to learn more
Community COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics
- Times and locations may change.
- Appointments not required.
- Bivalent booster shots are also available at mobile clinics.
How It Works – Heather Hill, RN, BSN
Dispelling myths about COVID-19 vaccine – Spanish
El personal de BFHD disuade los errores comunes sobre las vacunas COVID-19.
Vax Up Tri-Cities
Vaccination is the best weapon against spread of COVID-19.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists have worked to develop and evolve many tools for protection — including vaccines, tests, treatments and more. This work continues as scientists learn more about how to manage COVID-19 and its variants.
Just in the last few months, a new vaccine was authorized and an updated booster was introduced.
Frequently asked questions
Click each question to learn more
Bivalent or monovalent? What COVID-vaccine to get?
You may have heard the terms “monovalent” or “bivalent” being used to describe COVID-19 vaccines. Here are the
differences between these two types of vaccines, and the importance of getting an updated bivalent booster when eligible
Other languages are under the vaccine tab on this page.
I'm already vaccinated against COVID-19. Do I need a booster?
Bivalent boosters aim to provide better protection from currently-circulating variants of COVID-19
The bivalent vaccines combine the companies’ original COVID-19 vaccine compositions with BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components, providing additional protection by targeting variants that are more transmissible and immune-evading. The primary COVID-19 vaccine series will stay the same, given their proven efficacy in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
Staying up to date with booster doses as soon as you are eligible is your best protection against serious illness and death from COVID-19.
- Children 6 months-5 years who received the original monovalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are now eligible to receive an updated bivalent booster two months after completing the primary series.
- The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months-4 years will now include two monovalent Pfizer doses and one bivalent Pfizer dose.
- Children 6 months-4 years who have not yet begun the 3-dose Pfizer primary series or who have not received the third dose of their primary series will now receive the updated Pfizer series
- Children 6 months-4 years who have already completed the 3-dose Pfizer primary series will not be eligible for additional doses or boosters at this time
- Novavax COVID-19 boosters are available for adults if they have completed primary series vaccination but have not previously received a COVID-19 booster—and if they cannot or will not receive an updated mRNA booster.
Where can I get a booster?
You can find booster shots at pharmacies, doctor’s offices and clinics, and anywhere else that COVID-19 vaccine is available. Find a vaccine provider near you on the vaccine locator
You may need to make an appointment, or wait a while to get in for the shot. But don’t worry – your current vaccination still offers protection against serious COVID-19 illness.
I am immunocompromised, do I need an additional dose?
If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised, guidelines will vary. Consult with your physician.
Can I get the updated bivalent booster at the same time as the flu vaccine?
Yes! It is safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including the updated bivalent booster, at the same time as the flu vaccine or any other vaccine. It is important that everyone aged 6 months and older is up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines and receives an annual flu vaccine in the next few months.
What is the difference between fully vaccinated and up to date?
According to the CDC, “You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines if you have completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended for you by CDC.”
After completing the COVID-19 primary series, the CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older should receive an updated bivalent booster at least two months after their last dose (of a COVID-19 booster or primary series).
COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens
The time to vaccinate children against COVID-19 is now. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 15 million children
in the United States have gotten COVID-19. New COVID-19 variants are more dangerous and infectious to children than
the original strains.
Children can also spread COVID-19 to others and develop serious complications from COVID-19, such as “long COVID”
or a dangerous inflammatory disease called MIS-C.
What is the difference between Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children?
The Pfizer vaccine is authorized and approved for children ages 6 months to 5 years. (Pfizer vaccines for ages 5 and up are already available.) The Moderna vaccine is authorized for ages 6 months to 6 years. Both these vaccines are made using the messenger RNA platform.
Are the COVID vaccine doses for kids the same as they are for adults?
No. For the Pfizer vaccine, children under age 5 receive three 3-microgram doses. Children 5 to 11 receive two 10-microgram doses. Those 12 and up receive two 30-microgram doses, which is the same for adults.
For the Moderna vaccine, children under age 6 receive two 25-microgram doses, compared to two 50-microgram doses for ages 6 to 12, and two 100-microgram doses in ages 12 and up.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for children 6 months to 4 years of age. The Moderna vaccine is authorized for children 6 months to 5 years of age.
The benefits of the Moderna vaccine: Only two trips to the doctor, clinic, or pharmacy completes the primary series. A booster or boosters will probably be needed later. One fewer dose to have to cajole a toddler into getting. Quicker protection.
The benefits of the Pfizer vaccine: Milder reactions.
The drawback of the Moderna vaccine: The larger doses of vaccine may induce more reactions, than the Pfizer vaccine.
The drawbacks of the Pfizer vaccine: It will take nearly three months to get a child fully vaccinated. Getting this vaccine requires three medical visits, and three vaccinations in an age group that typically hates getting needles. Failing to get the third shot means a child may not be protected.
What is the difference between an additional dose and a booster?
There are two distinct potential uses for an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine:
An additional 4th dose This additional dose of vaccine is given when the immune response following a primary vaccine series is likely to be insufficient. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agency now advises people with weak immune systems to receive three primary shots plus a booster, for a total of four doses.
- In August, the CDC began allowing immunocompromised people to receive a third dose of mRNA vaccine as part of their primary vaccination.
- In October, the CDC updated its guidance to allow people with suppressed immune systems to receive a fourth shot as a booster.
A Booster dose is an additional dose of vaccine given after a specified amount of time, regardless of the immune response to the first two vaccinations.
Although COVID-19 vaccination for adults aged 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data pdf icon[4.7 MB, 88 pages] suggest vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms. Emerging evidence also shows that among healthcare and other frontline workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infections is decreasing over time. This lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of decreasing protection as time passes since getting vaccinated (e.g., waning immunity) as well as the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant.
Booster doses of all three COVID-19 vaccine types are now available for everyone 18 and older. The expansion comes following recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
At least five months after receiving both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine:
- Those 18 and older should receive a booster dose.
- In January, the CDC shortened the time that anyone must wait for a booster from six months to five.
Everyone 18 and older who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster shot two months after getting vaccinated.
Are the vaccines safe for pregnant and lactating women?
Pregnant people are at much higher risk for complications and death from COVID-19.
After rigorous research, COVID-19 vaccines are now strongly recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding people by the CDC, and tens of thousands of obstetricians, midwives, family physicians and other OB providers.
When it comes to you and your baby’s health, having accurate information is vital. This resource is updated with the latest research into vaccine safety, pregnancy and COVID-19.
Visit One Vax, Two Lives for answers to all your questions, curated by medical professionals, with links to verified research.
Where can I get vaccinated?
BFHD is not currently resourced to provide vaccine to the community from our building. Check the top of this page for clinics we are hosting with community organizations.
1) If you or someone you know needs assistance with qualification or help finding a provider, call 1.800.525.0127 and press #.
3) If you need help getting to a vaccine location, visit www.bft.org/VaccineTransportation.
Understanding the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program – CDC
V-safe: a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. V-safe will also remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one.
I had COVID, why should I get vaccinated - don't I have immunity?
After being infected with the coronavirus, you will develop antibodies and some immune protection. The amount of protection can vary significantly among different individuals. Experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Recent research published by the CDC found that people who had survived COVID-19 in Kentucky and remained unvaccinated were more than twice as likely as vaccinated survivors to become reinfected.
The bottom line: Vaccines offer a more predictable protection, and it will likely last longer.
You can be vaccinated as soon as you complete your isolation period – no need to wait!
Who is mandated to get vaccinations?
There are requirements at both the federal (national) and state level. Both will apply to workers in Washington.
These requirements are not unique to Washington. Several other states have requirements in place for the same industries.
Guidance is updated from the federal and state government often. We recommend referencing this site for the latest.
And remember, any employer can set requirements.
Proclamation 21-14 (Vaccination Requirement) is expanded to include all employees, on-site contractors and on-site volunteers at all public and private K-12 schools, public and private 2- and 4-year institutions of higher education, and early learning and child care programs serving children from multiple households.
Businesses are also able to mandate employees get vaccinated and may offer a test out option. The CBC-West site is asking employees to not use the mass vaccination site as a test out option due to the large volume of ill people needing to be served at the site.
- Interim Guidance for Health Care Worker Staffing Shortages
- COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement FAQ for Health Care Workers
- COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement FAQ for Child Care, Early Learning, and Youth Development Providers
- COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Employers (Non-Healthcare Settings)
- From the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI): COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement FAQ for Teachers and School Staff
- From the Governor’s Office: General FAQ page related to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement proclamation 21-14.1
President Biden recently announced that all businesses in the U.S. with 100 or more people will need to require employees to be fully vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. He also announced that federal government employees and contractors will now be required to be fully vaccinated, as well as workers at health care facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding. There is no alternative testing option for these groups.
The Federal COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Agency Model Safety Priciples (updated 9/13/2021)
- Federal Executive Branch employees must be fully vaccinated, except in limited circumstances
where an employee is legally entitled to a reasonable accommodation. Agencies must work
expeditiously so that their employees are fully vaccinated as quickly as possible and by no later
than November 22, 2021.
• With the government-wide adoption and implementation of these vaccination requirements,
agencies are no longer required to establish a screening testing program for employees or onsite
contractor employees who are not fully vaccinated, although they may do so.
• The President has announced that Federal contractor employees will be required to be
vaccinated. Prior to being contractually required to be vaccinated, onsite contractor employees
who are not fully vaccinated and are not part of an agency testing program must provide proof
of a negative COVID-19 test from no later than the previous 3 days prior to entry to a Federal
Why get vaccinated if I can still get COVID-19?
There is a huge personal benefit from getting vaccinated: Most vaccinated people avoid serious illness, as the Omincron variant of COVID-19 spreads rapidly in our community. It helps to protect you, your friends and family, and other people in the community from COVID-19. That means you are less likely to miss work or school, to need medical care and the expense that comes with it. You are less likely to infect your family and friends.
And as a community, the only way we can get past this pandemic is to have an overwhelming majority of our residents protected from COVID-19 and taking precautions to limit its spread.
- Vaccinated people are less likely to become infected and to spread the virus to others. Every person who gets fully vaccinated is helping limit how much COVID-19 we have in our community. And it reduces the possibility of the virus replicating and mutating (and possibly becoming more resistant to vaccines).
- Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures alone are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.
- Over time, as more people are vaccinated, we may no longer need some of the other COVID-19 prevention measures that are necessary at this time.
What can be used as proof of vaccination?
What if I lose my COVID vaccination card?
You do not have to have your card to provide your vaccination status. Your Washington State Immunization Record is your official record for all of your immunizations. Get your record at Washington | MyIR. MyIR Mobile is an internet-based service that gives people access to their official Washington state vaccination records. You can set up an account at www.MyIRMobile.com.
MyIR Mobile is currently available in English only. For language assistance, or additional help getting your records, call the Washington State Vaccine Helpline at 833-829-4357 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you lose or misplace your card and want a new one, you can call your provider to see if they are able to provide a replacement.
- For lost cards distributed at the Mass Vaccination Site, call the Health District COVID Call Center at 509.460.4358 (509.460.4359 Esp.).
- If your record is not in MyIR, call 1-800-525-0127 for assistance.
What if my vaccination record is not in MyIR ?
Your Washington State Immunization Record is your official record for all of your immunizations. Get your record at Washington | MyIR. If your record is not in MyIR, call 1-800-525-0127 for assistance.
Will the vaccines end the pandemic?
A safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 is a major breakthrough in preventing COVID-19 infection, but needs to be used in combination with other preventive measures. Vaccine alone will not end the pandemic. For this reason, even with the vaccine now available, it is necessary to continue with the core COVID-19 safety precautions including limiting activities outside the home, physical distancing, and mask wearing for the foreseeable future as we learn more about how long the protection lasts, when and if additional doses are needed and as more people become protected through vaccination over time.
How do we know vaccines are safe?
+ Vaccine Safety Handout – DOH
We now have more than nine months of experience with COVID-19 vaccines, and one of those vaccines (from Pfizer) has already passed all of the investigation required for final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And in this time, we have learned:
- All of the vaccines available in the U.S. are very safe. People may have temporary side effects (such as feeling very tired and achy for a day or two). But the number of people with serious reactions to the vaccines is extremely low.
- All of the available vaccines are proving effective, even against many variants. We measure effective based on how well they prevent people from getting so sick that they need to go to the hospital, or face dying. For example, during September 2021 in King County, people who are not fully vaccinated are more than 40 times more likely to need hospitalization for COVID-19 than people who are vaccinated. And people not fully vaccinated are more than 50 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
- Highly effective does not mean 100% effective. No vaccine, against any disease, is 100% effective. No medication to treat disease is 100% effective.
- The vaccines limit how much people spread the virus (but they do not completely stop us from spreading it). People who are vaccinated are far less likely to get infected, even if they are exposed. And if you are not infected, you can’t spread the virus to others. Even if a vaccinated person does get COVID-19, they usually have it for a shorter period of time, and that means they spread it less than someone who is not fully vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing to assess data on whether fully vaccinated people with asymptomatic breakthrough infections can transmit the virus.
COVID-19 vaccines must go through rigorous clinical trials in which many thousands of study participants receive the vaccine. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) evaluates the scientific data from these studies to determine the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine. FDA relies on input from an advisory group of outside scientists and experts, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) to provide an objective and thorough analysis of safety and effectiveness. VRBPAC also makes recommendations to FDA about vaccine approval. This is a transparent process because VRBPAC meetings are open to the public.
If a vaccine meets the FDA’s safety and effectiveness standards, the FDA can make the vaccines available for use in the U.S. by traditional licensure or emergency use authorization.
After the FDA makes its determination, a second independent advisory body of outside immunization experts, the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), will review the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness data and make recommendations to the CDC with guidance for healthcare providers and the public about the use of the vaccine.
Vaccine Safety Monitoring
After a vaccine is authorized for use, multiple safety monitoring systems are in place to watch for possible side effects. If an unexpected serious side effect is detected, experts work as quickly as possible to determine whether it is a true safety concern. This serves as an ongoing evaluation of safety even after the clinical trials are completed. For COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC and FDA have expanded safety monitoring systems to carefully evaluate safety in real-time and make sure the COVID-19 vaccines are as safe as possible.
Some Vaccine Formulations Require More Than one Dose
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require more than one dose for optimum effectiveness. Both vaccines have shown an efficacy around 95% after the second dose is taken approximately 21-28 days after the initial dose, depending upon the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccine and booster recommendations may be updated as CDC continues to use the latest data related to safety and how well vaccines work, including over time and against new variants.
Only Licensed and Trained Health Professionals Can Give Vaccinations
Only individuals who are licensed and trained to administer vaccines are able to provide vaccination. These providers may administer vaccine both in clinics and hospitals, pharmacies and at more mobile or vaccination sites in the community.
When can we stop masking and distancing?
Masks continue to be required in some settings, including health care, long-term care and correctional facilities. Local health jurisdictions, some school districts, and individual businesses may still choose to require masks. If you are in a setting where COVID-19 safety measures are in place, please follow them. The goal of these safety measures is to protect staff, employees, students, yourself, and others. DOH guidance documents provide additional information on where masks are still required.
Even though masks are no longer required in many places, individuals may want to continue to wear a mask for added protection against COVID-19, including those who are immunocompromised, those living with someone immunocompromised, or simply those who may just feel safer wearing a mask. Everyone should assess their own personal risk when making this decision.
Additionally, everyone should continue to use COVID-19 prevention measures such as staying up to date on vaccination, handwashing, testing, and staying home when you’re sick.
***All local and national businesses can be more restrictive with masking guidance, but not less. A mandate follows a different process for approval than a legislative law, but it is still a requirement and can be enforced.***
Benton-Franklin Health District is not the authoritative body for mask mandates.
- Customers who are concerned that a business is not adequately enforcing the face mask order can submit an anonymous complaint here.
- Businesses with questions about the face covering order contact the state’s Business Response Center. If you’re an employer and have questions about the order regarding face coverings for employees, visit the state Department of Labor & Industries common questions page.
Information on Adverse Reactions and VAERS
Myocarditis and Pericarditis
Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis
VAERS Overview Video
VAERS reports can be difficult to understand and often have been misinterpreted.
Myths and Facts about Vaccine Safety
Now that there are authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, accurate vaccine information is critical.
How do I know which sources of COVID-19 vaccine information are accurate?
+ Vaccine Safety Handout – DOH
It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust. Learn more about finding credible vaccine information.
The CDC addresses the most common reasons for vaccine hesitancy on their myths and facts page.
- Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19? (NO)
- After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test? (NO)
- If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get a vaccine? (YES)
- Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA? (NO)
- Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or want to have a baby one day? (YES!)
Other Frequently Asked Questions about vaccination can be found here.
Resources for Healthcare, Vaccine and Community Based Providers
Farm and Ag Workers Resources
Resources for Employers to Help Employees Get Vaccinated
- Call the Vaccine Hotline (DOH): 1-800-525-0127 and press #
- Lost Vaccine Card: Get your Immunization Record at Washington My IR or call 509.460.4358 for assistance
- Call Washington Listens for Behavioral Health Assistance : 1-833-681-0211
- Washington State’s COVID-19 Vaccine Plan (DOH)
- Send Feedback About the Plan to DOH
- Current Vaccine Phase Information and Definitions (DOH)
- Washington’s COVID-19 Vaccine Phases Graphic (DOH)
- Pfizer Vaccine FAQs
- COVID-19 Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine Information – FDA
- Moderna Vaccine FAQs
- COVID-19 Moderna Vaccine Information – FDA
- COVID-19 Janssen Vaccine Information – FDA
- COVID-19 AstraZeneca Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet for Recipients (available soon)