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Vaccine FAQs

As of Feb. 28, 2021, education workers are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under California’s Vaccine Allocation Guidelines. To answer many questions from faculty, staff, and students, we have compiled the following FAQ. Many of the responses are quoted or adapted from the Centers for Disease Control websites, including the CDC’s Vaccine FAQ page and its Vaccine Facts page. Answers also have been provided by public-health experts from Santa Clara University’s COVID-19 Operations Team.

March 1, 2021

How can I find out if I’m eligible to be vaccinated right now?

It depends on where you live. For those who live in Santa Clara County, there is a vaccine information website for information. For eligibility in other counties, please visit the state’s My Turn website.

Should I get the vaccine?

For most people, the answer is yes. For one thing, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work here.

Many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, but some experience severe illness, have long-term health effects, or even die - and some people have an increased risk of developing severe complications. Studies have consistently shown that COVID-19 vaccines greatly reduce the risk that you will become infected at all - and if you do get infected, vaccinated people are far less likely to have severe symptoms.

The approved COVID-19 vaccines have been judged safe and effective by the FDA through their "Emergency Use Authorization" process.. They have not yet been approved for children under 16 years of age, and are not recommended for anyone who has previously had an allergic reaction to vaccine components, but vaccination is strongly recommended for pretty much everyone else. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

Can I qualify to get vaccinated if I’m a student worker on campus?

Yes, you can. Follow the procedures that faculty and staff are using to get vaccinated, by signing up at Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 vaccine site and/or using the county’s scheduling site. You can provide your paycheck stub as proof of employment. Other ID like government ID and/or medical card may be required as well. When you schedule the appointment, you should be provided with instructions by the provider.

Will students (or staff and faculty who work on campus) be required to get vaccinated?

So far no one is being required to be vaccinated, though we are encouraging it as broadly as possible to protect our campus and local community.

Will SCU administer the vaccine to students?

Santa Clara University is not currently able to provide COVID-19 vaccination on campus, because of how the state and county have established the vaccine distribution process. However, those who reside in the county can use a variety of websites to locate vaccine sites, once they are eligible under the county’s vaccine-distribution priority tier system. Some resources include Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 vaccine site and scheduling site. If SCU is able to provide vaccination on campus in the future, we will make sure the campus community is updated!

If I have an underlying condition, can I get a vaccine?

People with underlying medical conditions can receive the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people with underlying medical conditions. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Can I get a vaccine if I am currently sick with COVID-19?

No. People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.

If I’ve had COVID-19 and recovered, should I still get a vaccine?

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because 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—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Will the vaccines work on new COVID variants?

Early research suggests that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer protection against new variants of COVID-19. Whether the protection is at the same level as for the dominant strain of COVID-19 remains to be determined. So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

After getting vaccinated, you may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. In addition, you may have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These side effects are more common after the second shot. The side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

How long does protection from the vaccine last?

We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity, and the CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.

If I am unable to get a vaccine in my state or country, can I get one at SCU when I arrive?

Santa Clara University is not currently able to provide COVID-19 vaccination on campus, because of how the state and county have established the vaccine distribution process. However, those who reside in the county can use a variety of websites to locate vaccine sites, once they are eligible under the county’s vaccine-distribution priority tier system. Some resources include Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 vaccine site and scheduling site. If SCU is able to provide vaccination on campus in the future, we will make sure the campus community is updated.

How many shots do I need?

The currently authorized vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States require 2 shots to get the most protection:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech doses should be given 3 weeks (21 days) apart
  • Moderna doses should be given 1 month (28 days) apart

You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

Do I need to still wear a mask and social distance after I am vaccinated?

Yes. Because there are things we still don’t know about this virus, the safest way to protect yourself and others is to continue to:

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others
  • Avoid crowds
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands often

It’s important for us to keep using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic while we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Experts are also looking at how many people get vaccinated, how the coronavirus is spreading in communities, and the effects of new mutations in the virus. CDC will continue to update this page as we learn more.

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. Additional information can be found at key things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Should I continue to get tested even after I am vaccinated?

We recommend that you continue to get tested weekly until 3 weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. Neither the currently authorized vaccines or other COVID-19 vaccines currently being tested in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.​

If your body develops an immune response—the goal of vaccination— it is possible 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. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Where can I find the ingredients in the vaccine?

 The ingredients in currently available COVID-19 vaccines include mRNA, lipids, salts, sugars, and buffers. Buffers help maintain the stability of the pH solution. Vaccine ingredients can vary by manufacturer. To learn more about the ingredients in authorized COVID-19 vaccines, see: