Skip to main content

COVID vaccine information

Vaccines are critical to fighting deadly infectious diseases and we strongly encourage you to get the vaccine when it becomes available to you. Our goal is to provide you with transparent and up-to-date information about the COVID-19 vaccine so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to receive it.

View the frequently asked questions and resources below to learn more and check back as more information on the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

When can I get the vaccine?

The state of Nebraska is allocating the vaccine in a phased approach. Currently, we are in phase 1B, which targets those ages 65 and older and critical infrastructure workers. The next phase will begin when phase 1B is complete. This will vary by health district. To register for the vaccine in Nebraska, please visit this website. When you are selected in the phase you are eligible for, you will receive an email with instructions on how to schedule your vaccination. If you don’t have an email address but enter a phone number, you will be contacted by either text or phone call.

What is the COVID vaccine?

The first two vaccines that have received FDA emergency-use approval (EUA) in December 2020 use a new technology – called mRNA nanoparticles - to immunize humans against COVID-19.

The vaccine is composed of mRNA or messenger Ribonucleic Acid. The mRNA technology signals your body to produce a protein that prompts an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

Using mRNA (messenger RNA) technology has a couple of advantages over traditional vaccines: the vaccine can be produced in mass quantities very quickly, and it teaches the body how to produce very specific and effective antibodies that defend against COVID19.

Does the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine contain the live or weakened virus?

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do NOT contain any live or weakened virus. You cannot contract COVID-19 from the vaccine. The vaccine does NOT cause any infection.

Does the vaccine contain common allergy-causing components such as egg?

No, the vaccine does NOT contain common allergy-causing components such as egg or thimerosal.

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes. Reported side effects in the 43,000 persons enrolled in the Pfizer vaccine trial include side effects common to other vaccines – fatigue, headache, body aches. These effects are actually part of the body’s normal immune response when developing antibodies and indicate that the immune system is responding appropriately.

Is the vaccine effective?

Yes. The mRNA vaccines provide a higher level of COVID-19 antibodies specific to the spike protein than are found in recovered COVID-19 patients.

The mRNA vaccines are 94% - 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection. The clinical trial began enrolling patients in August 2020 and will continue to monitor the duration of continued immunity through 2023. Clinical trial participants will continue to be checked for antibody levels to determine when or if patients will require any additional vaccination booster injections.

How is the vaccine administered?

The Pfizer mRNA vaccine is administered as 2 intramuscular injections 21 days apart. The Moderna mRNA vaccine is administered as 2 intramuscular injections 28 days apart.

The full dose is split into 2 injections to allow the body time to produce a sufficient level of antibodies and to reduce the impact of the natural immune response for fatigue. Side effects of fatigue and headache are usually more pronounced after the second dose.

Both doses are necessary to achieve full immunity.

Is it safe to get the vaccine if I am pregnant?

Yes. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may receive the vaccine. We recommend that you speak with your healthcare provider in order to make an informed decision regarding the risks and benefits. For more information, please visit this CDC resource.

Can I get the vaccine if I have an autoimmune disorder?

Yes. Immunocompromised persons can get the vaccine but must have a conversation with their healthcare provider first in order to understand the benefits and risks. The vaccine is contraindicated in persons who have had a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or injectable therapy.

Do I need the vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?

Yes. Vaccination is recommended for those with a history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Vaccination should be deferred until recovery from acute illness and criteria have been met to discontinue isolation.

Do I still have to wear a mask if I get vaccinated?

Yes. Until a significant percentage of the population is vaccinated, the CDC continues to recommend masking, social distancing and hand hygiene as the mainstay in preventing additional viral spread.

Can I donate convalescent plasma after getting vaccinated?

No. Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are not eligible to donate convalescent plasma, however you can still donate whole blood as long as it has been 14 days after complete resolution of symptoms.

Does the vaccine alter human DNA?

No. It won’t change our DNA-It just tells our immune system to produce a defense mechanism against COVID-19 if we need it. It’s like stock-piling medicine in our medicine cabinets if we need it without changing the layout of our house. Additionally, RNA cannot enter human DNA to change it because mRNA cannot enter a cell’s nucleus (which houses DNA). So, biologically it can’t change our DNA.

Does the vaccine cause infertility?

No. The mRNA technology alerts your body to produce antibodies to defend against COVID-19. While the spike proteins in COVID-19 may look similar to those in the placenta, they are different and your body knows the difference.

Twenty-three participants in the Pfizer mRNA vaccine clinical trial became pregnant. Out of the 23 participants, Pfizer reported one poor pregnancy outcome that occurred in someone in the control/placebo group – meaning they had not received the vaccine.

Is the vaccine made from a human source?

No. The mRNA vaccine is mass produced in a laboratory. It is a chain of proteins that contain the code that results in the patient being able to produce antibodies to defend against COVID-19.

What major side effects does the vaccine cause?

No serious safety concerns have been observed in the 43,000 participants enrolled. The most common side effects were fatigue at 3.8 percent and headache at 2 percent.

Can I take fever reducing medication before getting the vaccine?

No. Fever reducing medications can be taken after receiving the vaccine, but it is not recommended to take these medications prior to the vaccination due to lack of information on the impact of use on vaccine-induced antibody responses.

week in health e-newsletter

Get the week's top health stories in your inbox every Friday.