Orlando Health, including Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, has vaccinated more than 67,000 Central Floridians to protect them from COVID-19 and will continue to provide vaccinations to eligible patients and healthcare workers.
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs (and Their Answers)
As a recognized leader in delivering COVID-19 care and information, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg is committed to keeping you updated on the vaccines available to fight the new coronavirus. Our experts in infectious diseases, pathology and emergency medicine are dedicated to providing the guidance you need to stay safe during the pandemic. That includes offering timely, trusted details from dependable resources regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
Watch this page for continuing updates on when and how the COVID-19 vaccines will be available in our local communities.
When did the COVID-19 vaccine become available? +
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 on December 11, 2020. The emergency use authorization allowed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. and administered to those 16 years of age and older.
On December 18, 2020, the FDA granted EUA for the Moderna, Inc., COVID-19 vaccine for use in individuals 18 years and older. Because it does not require ultra-cold storage, the Moderna vaccine is being distributed to a larger number of hospitals, including across the Orlando Health system. More than 170 hospital locations in 43 Florida counties started receiving Moderna doses during the week of December 21, 2020.
The FDA gave emergency use authorization to the vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, on February 27, 2021, to be distributed to those age 18 and older. Doses of the vaccine started arriving in Florida the week of March 1.
When will I be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida? +
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on March 8, 2021, that expands the priority list of Florida residents who may receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Those groups are identified as:
- Long-term care facility residents and staff
- Healthcare personnel with direct patient contact
- Floridians 60 years of age and older
- K-12 school employees 50 years of age and older
- Sworn law enforcement officers 50 years of age and older
- Firefighters 50 years of age and older
- Patients determined by a physician to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19
On February 26, 2021, Governor DeSantis issued an executive order expanding who can get the vaccine. Floridians deemed extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by a physician can receive the vaccine from hospital providers, registered nurses and pharmacists.
Orange County | By Appointment Only
The Florida Department of Health in Orange County is providing COVID-19 vaccines to those 65 and older at the Orange County Convention Center. You do not have to be an Orange County resident to get the vaccine. Appointments for the vaccine are required.
Registration instructions can guide you through the process of making an appointment online for your vaccine. Orange County has answers to vaccine questions here.
The Florida Department of Health in Lake County is currently administering vaccines, but is no longer taking appointments. Call (352) 268-9299 for more information on the sites and times where the vaccine is being administered.
The Florida Department of Health in Volusia County is making information available as it receives shipments of the vaccine. For information, go to the county’s website.
The Florida Department of Health in Osceola County is asking residents to check its website to find out when vaccines are available.
Seminole County is updating information about vaccines here. To opt-in for alerts about future vaccine availability, text COVID19INFO to 888-777. The county also has posted a list of populations it is prioritizing for COVID-19 vaccines.
You can check for potential cancellations here.
The approval of additional vaccines for emergency use as well as increased production capacity will determine future vaccination schedules. The CDC’s goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccination once sufficient quantities are available.
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is making information available as it receives shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine. For information, go to the county’s website.
Will I have to pay if I get the vaccines? +
Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given free to Americans who choose to be vaccinated. Providers can be reimbursed through various programs for their costs administering the vaccines.
How do COVID-19 vaccines work? +
COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes the disease without us actually getting sick from it. You can learn more from the CDC about the three main types of COVID-19 vaccines.
Do the COVID-19 vaccines require more than 1 shot? +
The Pfizer vaccine is administered as a series of two shots, three weeks apart.
The Moderna vaccine also requires two shots, but these are spaced 4 weeks apart.
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine requires only one shot.
Only one COVID-19 vaccine currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States uses one shot.
Can my child get the vaccine? +
Only non-pregnant adults participated in early clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines. As more recruits enroll in the clinical trials, recommendations on who can receive the vaccines may change. Currently:
- The Pfizer vaccine is approved for those 16 and older.
- The Moderna vaccine is approved for ages 18 and older.
- The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved for those 18 and older.
Why should I get a vaccine? +
Ending the COVID-19 pandemic requires using all available tools. Vaccination is one of many steps that will protect you and those around you from the disease, which can cause severe illness or death. Getting a vaccine prepares your immune system to fight the virus if you are exposed. Use it in combination with wearing a mask, washing your hands and maintaining adequate physical space.
Are there any side effects to the vaccine? +
The most commonly reported side effects for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. These typically lasted several days. More people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first one.
For the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, common injection site reactions include swelling and redness as well as pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection. General side effects of fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever also may be possible. These can last several days and were more likely to occur after the second dose.
For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, common side effects include pain and swelling at injection site. General side effects include headache, feeling very tired, muscle aches, nausea and fever.
When you receive your COVID-19 vaccine, you also will get information about v-safe and how to enroll in the CDC’s new smartphone-based tool to report problems or adverse reactions to the vaccine. Those who enroll can receive reminders about the second vaccine dose and surveys about how they’re feeling after a COVID-19 vaccine.
How long does the vaccine last? +
Because the COVID-19 vaccines are so new, there’s not yet enough data available to determine how long they will provide protection.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines? +
None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The goal of vaccination is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
Will the vaccine provide me with immediate protection from COVID-19? +
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it's possible to get COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
If I’ve had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get a COVID-19 vaccine? +
How long someone is protected from COVID-19 after recovering from the disease is still uncertain. Known as natural immunity, this protection doesn’t seem to last very long based on early evidence. More studies are needed to help determine this.
How do I know that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe? +
The FDA has a thorough review process that analyzes data from clinical trials involving thousands of people and determines next steps, such as emergency use authorization (EUA) or approval. Safety and effectiveness are evaluated as part of this process and will continue to be monitored as the vaccines roll out to the general public.
The CDC has created a new smartphone-based tool available to anyone who receives a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who enroll in v-safe can receive reminders about the second vaccine dose and surveys about how they’re feeling after a COVID-19 vaccine.
Are severe reactions to the vaccines being tracked? +
Severe side effects are being tracked by vaccine manufacturers and through the FDA/CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
How do I report if I have a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine? +
Anyone who’s had a severe reaction to the COVID-19 vaccines, known as an adverse event, can report it to:
- The FDA/CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The toll-free number is (800) 822-7967 or report online.
- Pfizer Inc. at toll-free (800) 438-1985 or online.
- ModernaTX, Inc. at tollfree (866) 663-3762 or online.
- V-safe, the CDC’s new smartphone-based tool for those who’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Do clinical trial results show whether vaccines are effective? +
Before clearing a treatment for emergency use authorization (EUA), the FDA evaluates its safety and effectiveness. The Pfizer vaccine, for example, had more than 36,500 participants enrolled in its ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled study. Among the half receiving the vaccine, only 8 COVID-19 cases were detected as compared to 162 cases in the placebo group. These data indicated the vaccine was 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. In its clinical trials of nearly 30,000 participants, the Moderna vaccine was shown to be 94.1 percent effective with 11 cases of COVID-19 developing in the vaccine group and 185 in the placebo group.
In its clinical trial of more than 43,000 participants, the vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, was found to be 85 percent effective against preventing severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 28 days after vaccination.
Can other vaccines like the flu shot protect me from COVID-19? +
Although a flu vaccine won’t protect you from COVID-19, it can prevent you from getting the flu at the same time as COVID-19. This helps prevent a more severe illness and makes it even more important to get your flu shot as soon as possible this season.
How soon after getting the COVID-19 vaccine can I stop wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others? +
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine prepares your immune system to fight the virus if you are exposed. It should be used in combination with wearing a mask, washing your hands and maintaining adequate physical space to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Before stopping these recommendations, the CDC needs to better understand the protection provided by COVID-19 vaccines. How many Americans get vaccinated and how the virus spreads in communities also will affect this decision.
Will I test positive on COVID-19 viral tests after receiving the vaccines? +
The vaccines we expect Americans to receive won't cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests, like the PCR or antigen tests used for diagnosing COVID-19.
If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus.
How do I protect myself until I can get a vaccine? +
You can protect yourself before and after getting the COVID-19 vaccine by following these CDC recommendations, which include:
- Wearing a mask
- Washing your hands often
- Maintaining adequate physical space between you and others
Still have questions about Orlando Health’s COVID-19 vaccinations? Please fill out the form below with your question.