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Your guide to COVID-19 vaccine information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

We have created a community-centered Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide for Oklahomans who have questions about getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

To ask a question, text "FAQ" to our KOSU Texting Club number 1-844-777-7719 or email Kateleigh Mills at kateleigh@kosu.org.

Whatever questions you have, we will ask healthcare professionals for you.

We will be adding questions as we get them answered, so please check back!

KOSU is also offering the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ in Spanish and Vietnamese:


Who is currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine? (Last Updated 1/05/22)

Everyone 5 and older is now eligible to get a free COVID-19 vaccination.

The age recommendations for the vaccines include:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech: 5+ years
  • Moderna: 18+ years
  • Johnson & Johnson: 18+ years

For some immunocompromised children aged 5-11, the CDC recommends getting an additional dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 28 days after their second shot to complete the primary series - for a total of three shots.

Learn more about who should receive additional primary shots here.

Who is currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster and how long do I have to wait to get my booster? (Last Updated 1/19/22)

The CDC updated their recommendations for when people can receive a COVID-19 booster shot, and what ages are eligible.

The CDC's recommendations include:

  • Pfizer BioNTech: at least 5 months after completing the primary series (For people aged 12 and older)
  • Moderna: 5 months after completing the primary series. (For people aged 18 and older)
  • Johnson & Johnson: 2 months after 1st shot (For people aged 18 and older)

My kid wants to get a vaccine, but I’m nervous, what should I do?

"We always recommend making informed health decisions. This means talking to your child’s pediatrician or primary care doctor. They know your child’s medical history and are the trusted health professional you see."

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences

I’ve heard that the vaccine may cause my son to have long-term heart problems. Is that true? (Last updated 1/19/2022)

As of January 6, 2022, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has received 2,077 preliminary reports of myocarditis or pericarditis among people ages 30 and younger who received COVID-19 vaccines. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. You can learn more about heart inflammation here.

Most of those cases were reported to VAERS after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), particularly in male adolescents and young adults.

Through follow-up, including medical record reviews, the CDC and FDA were able to confirm 1,175 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis.

You can learn more about myocarditis and pericarditis, as well as clinical considerations, after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination here.

What's the point in getting a vaccine if everyone around me is getting COVID?

"COVID vaccines are an effectively safer way to help build protection. If you contract COVID, you run the risk of becoming ill and requiring hospitalization. The vaccines have proven to diminish the severity of an infection. Current research suggests people get better protection from being vaccinated versus protection from actually having COVID.

If you contract COVID, it is unknown how you or someone around you will respond. You would be running the risk of having ongoing health problems for several weeks or longer."

Source: Eddie Withers, lead epidemiologist at OCCHD

Will an mRNA vaccine change my child’s DNA?

No, mRNA vaccines will not change your child's DNA. mRNA vaccines do not contain the live COVID virus. They used advanced technology to deliver special instructions to your cells, triggering your cells to produce antibodies responsible for fighting off COVID, should you become infected. Once they do their jobs, those proteins which deliver the special instructions dissolve naturally.

The material for eliciting the response never enters the portion of the cell where the DNA is housed.

Source: Eddie Withers, lead epidemiologist at OCCHD

What are the side effects for vaccines for kids?

Side effects of the vaccine are the same as adults who’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Where you get the shot: pain, redness and/or swelling
  • Throughout the rest of your body: tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and/or nausea

These side effects may affect your child's daily activities, but should subside within a few days. However, some people have no side effects after vaccination. You can consult with your child's healthcare provider on using a non-aspirin pain reliever or other steps at home to help with side effects. The CDC does not recommend taking pain relievers before vaccination in an attempt to prevent side effects.

I have friends who will not get the COVID-19 vaccine because of a genetic allergy to eggs. Are eggs used in the production of the vaccine?

"The COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized or approved by the FDA are not manufactured using egg products or egg culture. See COVID-19 vaccines for more information." -U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration's COVID-19 FAQ page.

I’ve heard that the vaccine uses aborted fetal cells. Is that true?


In March 2021, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine made headlines because abortion-derived cell lines were used in its development. Christian groups at the time advised against using the J&J vaccine if there were other vaccines available to take. While the vaccine used lab-replicated fetal cells (known as cell lines) during the production process, the vaccine itself does not have any fetal cells or aborted fetal DNA.

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines also used fetal cell lines in testing stages, but the vaccines do not include fetal cells.

Could my child have long term effects that doctors don’t know about yet?

"Long term side effects due to vaccines are rare. If these side effects do occur, they typically present in the first few months. The technologies used to develop the COVID-19 vaccines have been years in development to prepare for outbreaks of infectious viruses. The long term effects of being infected with COVID itself, known as “long-hauler syndrome,” is happening in adults and there is concern of the effects of this in children."

Source: Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences

How do I really know the vaccine was tested properly? I’m just really not sure if I trust the science.

"COVID vaccines were developed using technology that has been around for decades. They are not experimental and went through all the required stages of clinical trials. Extensive testing and monitoring have shown that these vaccines are safe and effective.

Currently, even as vaccines are given out across the country, the vaccine is intensively monitored for indications there is an issue. Also, keep in mind that currently 180 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, essentially proving the safety of the vaccines."

Source: Eddie Withers, lead epidemiologist at OCCHD

If my child can still get COVID after getting vaccinated, why should they get the shot?

"No vaccine is 100% effective. What we do know is that those who are vaccinated are less likely to become severely ill or hospitalized with COVID."

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences

Does my kid have to stay home from school after receiving the vaccine?

"None of the current vaccines are live virus, and they won’t make you sick. Like other vaccines though, after you get the shot you can have pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. In addition, some people are tired, have headache, have muscle pain, chills, and fever. After you are fully vaccinated, when you are exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you don’t have to quarantine unless you have symptoms of infection."

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences

Will the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?

"Currently, no evidence shows that any of the COVID vaccines cause fertility problems."

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences


Why is KOSU doing this kind of reporting? (Last updated: 1/20/22)

KOSU recently was among 14 public media stations across the country to receive Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) emergency grants to address COVID-19 misinformation in their community. The grants were awarded to public television and radio stations in areas with low vaccination and high infection rates, or in emerging hotspots for coronavirus infection.

"KOSU reporters continue to listen to the kinds of information the community needs. This project helps to continue to fill in the gaps and allows us to continue listening and learning," said Rachel Hubbard, KOSU Executive Director.

KOSU tracks COVID news daily here.

Updated: January 9-15 Report: The Oklahoma State Department of Health's weekly epidemiology and surveillance report finds 54.3% (1,805,036) of Oklahomans are fully vaccinated.

The same report finds:

  • 9% (33,677) of Oklahomans between the ages of 5-11 are fully vaccinated.
  • 33.6% (107,831) of Oklahomans between the ages of 12 and 17 are fully vaccinated. 
  • 39.6% (150,652) of Oklahomans between the ages 18 and 24 are fully vaccinated.

Note: The data above is provided from OSDH's weekly epidemiology and surveillance report that is released on Wednesdays.

What organizations or individuals helped with putting this guide together?

The community! If you have other questions you'd like us to look into, text "FAQ" to our KOSU Texting Club number 1-844-777-7719 or email KOSU's Special Projects Reporter Kateleigh Mills at kateleigh@kosu.org.

(Note: If you or your organization would like to partner with KOSU to further collect information for this guide, please email kateleigh@kosu.org.)

Kateleigh Mills produced this story as part of the America Amplified initiative using community engagement to inform and strengthen local, regional and national journalism. America Amplified is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

Kateleigh Mills is the Special Projects reporter for KOSU.
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