COVID-19 vaccine questions? We’ve got answers.

Page updated 2/26/21: We know demand for COVID-19 vaccines is high, and we’re committed to helping you know what to expect. Check this page frequently to get the latest details.

Weekly update: February 26, 2021

Vaccine supply remains very limited. We started with a focus on patients 75 years and older. We’re now vaccinating patients 70 years old or older, by appointment only. This week, our home care team also began distributing vaccines to patients in this age range who are homebound and unable to come into one of our vaccine clinics.

As we receive more supply, we’ll open scheduling to more people eligible under state and federal guidelines. We also continue to vaccinate health care workers, including both our colleagues and other health care workers in our community.

We’re focusing on our oldest patients first because COVID-19 has disproportionately affected these age groups. One way to see this impact is in the proportion of deaths. In Minnesota, 90% of people who have died from COVID-19 have been 65 years old or older – 75% have been 75 years old or older, 10% have been 70 to 74 years old, and 5% have been 65 to 69 years old.

We understand many members of our community are anxious to be vaccinated. We’re eager to do our part to make vaccines available as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience.

Our weekly vaccine appointment availability is based on the number of doses we receive from state health officials in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Each week, we learn how many doses we’ll receive for the following week. Once we know that, we add appointments to our schedule and let newly eligible patients know they’re available. This usually happens on Fridays – previously eligible patients who haven’t yet scheduled an appointment are also encouraged to check back at that time. Patients must make an appointment to get vaccinated.

The number of vaccine doses we’re allocated varies. This week, we received about 6,000 doses from the Minnesota Department of Health. Given that supply, we’re simply unable to vaccinate all our patients at once (for example, we have over 160,000 patients who are 65 years old or older).

Our goal is to distribute all vaccine doses as soon as possible, which aligns with goals set by state officials to use vaccine within three to seven days of receiving it.

As soon as our vaccine supply increases, we’ll also increase our number of appointments available.

How to know when it’s your turn

If you’ve seen us for care within the last three years – and you have an online account – we’ll email you when it’s time to schedule your vaccination with us. We may also reach out through phone, text or TTY call.

  • To make sure we can get in touch with you, take a moment to confirm your contact information in your account is up to date.
  • Don’t have an account? If you’ve seen us for care before, you can create an account in a few simple steps.
  • Everyone in your household should have their own account.

Invitations to eligible patients are sent as soon as we have appointments available. The order we’re inviting eligible patients is randomly generated by our information systems.

Watch a video from the Minnesota Association of Geriatrics Inspired Clinicians about how the COVID-19 vaccines work and why you should get vaccinated.

Información en español sobre la seguridad de las vacunas contra COVID-19

Mirar un video o mirar una entrevista con Dra. Eva Galvez de la Red de Médicos Migrantes sobre la seguridad de las vacunas y por qué se debe recibirlas.

FAQs on availability

When it’s your turn to schedule a vaccine with us, we’ll contact you through email, phone, text or TTY call. In order for us to contact you, you need to have an online account and also be seen by us within the last three years. Please take a moment to confirm your contact information is up to date, or create an account.

You’ll be able to schedule your appointment online or through another method. When you come to your appointment, you’ll need to bring appropriate documentation with you so we can confirm your eligibility in one of our current priority groups. We won’t be able to vaccinate you without proper age or employment identification.

We don’t have a waiting list for COVID-19 vaccines, but we’re keeping this page updated with the latest information.

HealthPartners & Park Nicollet patients will be offered whichever vaccine we’ve been allotted by federal and state health authorities. Availability may change from time to time, but all authorized vaccines are effective, so the vaccine you should get is the one you’re able to schedule soonest (once you’re eligible).

When you’re eligible, you can get vaccinated at one of our convenient locations in Minnesota or western Wisconsin. You’ll be able to choose your vaccination location from the sites we have available.

Yes. We encourage you to get the vaccine as soon as you’re able to, including from another source. You may have vaccine access through your nursing home, the Veterans Health Administration (the VA), your employer or the state.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses – wherever you choose to get vaccinated, you’ll need to receive both doses at the same location. Keep this in mind when you’re making an appointment.

We’re dedicated to equity in vaccine distribution. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also emphasizes the importance of equity, noting, “To reduce the substantial toll COVID-19 has had on individuals and communities, we need to work together to address inequities in the social determinants of health that increase risk of severe illness from COVID-19 for racial and ethnic minority groups.”

FAQs on eligibility

As soon as vaccines are available more broadly, you can help your loved one schedule an appointment to get the vaccine.

If your loved one has an online account and we’ve seen them within the last three years, we’ll contact them when they can schedule their vaccination with us.

To make sure we can get in touch with them, you can help them confirm the contact information in their account is up to date. If they don’t have an account, they can create one in a few simple steps. Everyone in their household should have their own account.

The vaccine is currently authorized for people 16 years old and older.

For most people, getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible is the safest choice. However, trials testing the vaccines in people who are pregnant or nursing haven’t been completed.

To help you make an informed decision, discuss COVID-19 vaccination with your doctor or midwife. The choice to get vaccinated while pregnant or nursing is always yours. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as well as the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, do recommend pregnant or nursing mothers have access to the vaccine. 

Yes. But if your COVID-19 was confirmed by a PCR test, you have natural immunity for at least 90 days.

Because of this, and because vaccine supply remains limited, we’re asking patients who’ve recently had COVID-19 to wait 90 days before getting vaccinated.

If it’s been over 90 days since you had COVID-19 – and you’re in one of our current priority groups – your ability to schedule should be updated within a week or so. If you have an online account, we’ll email you to schedule your appointment when we have vaccine supply available. 

If you’re currently enrolled in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial, you can learn whether you received a placebo or the AstraZeneca vaccine. This is called unblinding – it will give you information to help you decide whether you’d like to be vaccinated with the currently authorized Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

If you’re interested in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, please schedule a vaccination appointment (when you become eligible). Then call 651-254-5331 to start the unblinding process.

Please note that we’ll only be unblinding trial participants 48 hours before they’re scheduled to receive one of the authorized vaccines. This allows us to gather as much data as possible. Unblinded participants are still eligible to continue in the study.

FAQs on effectiveness and safety

All of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently authorized for use require two doses to be effective. The doses are given either 21 or 28 days apart, depending on which vaccine you receive.

Yes. Both vaccine doses are necessary for maximum protection – while there appears to be some protection after just one dose, efficacy of a single dose has not been systematically evaluated.

If you don’t receive your second dose, you haven’t completed your vaccination. As a result, you can’t be considered immunized against COVID-19, and you’re still at higher risk for getting sick or passing an infection to others.

You should receive your second dose 21 or 28 days after your first dose (depending on whether you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine). At your first-dose appointment, we’ll help you schedule your second dose for the right day. If your second-dose appointment is coming up and you won’t be able to make it, please let us know as soon as possible so we can reschedule you. Don’t delay your second dose.

After your second dose, it takes about two weeks for your body to build up protection. Since these vaccines are new, it’s still unclear how long that immunity will last.

Even after getting vaccinated, it’s important that you continue to cover your mouth and nose with a mask, socially distance, avoid crowds and wash your hands often to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Preliminary data suggests both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are very effective in preventing illness from COVID-19, with an indicated efficacy of 95%. Both vaccine doses are necessary for maximum protection – while there appears to be some protection after just one dose, efficacy of a single dose has not been systematically evaluated.

However, there isn’t yet enough data to say whether someone who was vaccinated may still spread the disease to others. That means wearing a mask, social distancing, frequent handwashing and other preventive measures are still recommended after vaccination. 

In addition, continued studies are needed to determine how long the vaccine offers protection against the disease.

Both Pfizer and Moderna, the vaccine manufacturers, must meet strict safety standards. These standards were established before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the COVID-19 vaccines went through the same rigorous clinical trials that other vaccines go through.

While the COVID-19 vaccines do seem to cause more side effects than a typical flu vaccine, all available evidence suggests that the COVID-19 vaccines are very safe. Side effects are a sign the immune system is responding as it should.

For the first 72 hours after vaccination, you may experience side effects. Symptoms are typically temporary, mild to moderate and can be managed at home with over-the-counter remedies. If you need additional care, our nurses and doctors are ready to help.

If you need help managing your side effects, or in the unlikely event they appear to be worsening, please talk to your doctor. You can also call our nurses 24/7 at 800-551-0859 (HealthPartners CareLine℠) or 952-993-4665 (Park Nicollet Nurse Line).

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines actually contains the coronavirus. Instead, they teach your body how to recognize and fight it.

It takes about two weeks after your second dose for the vaccine to be fully effective, so you could get COVID-19 just before or just after you’re vaccinated. That’s why it’s important to continue to take other preventive measures that help protect you, your family and your community.

FAQs on insurance and cost

While the cost of the actual vaccine is covered by the federal government, insurance plans will cover the cost of administering the vaccine – you won’t pay anything.

HealthPartners health plan members have 100% coverage for the COVID-19 vaccine. Most other health plans are covering it as well.

If you have any further questions, please check with your insurance company by calling the Member Services number located on your ID card.

If you don’t have health insurance, the costs for administering the vaccine will be covered under a special government program called the Provider Relief Fund.

FAQs on other COVID-19 safety measures

Even after vaccines become available, it’s likely that social distancing measures, masking guidelines and other COVID-19 safety procedures will continue for some time.

We know the COVID-19 vaccines are good at preventing people from getting sick. But we don’t yet have enough data yet to say whether someone who was vaccinated may still be able to spread the disease to others.

Check with state and local health authorities in your area for the latest policies.

We recommend everyone who’s able to get the COVID-19 vaccine does so. 

We don’t know enough about COVID-19 to know if population, or herd, immunity is possible. That’s what happens when a majority of the population is immune to a disease and protects those who aren’t by stopping the spread of it. Vaccination is the only way to reach population immunity without many more people getting sick.