What to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in Sedgwick County

By Matthew Kelly / Wichita Journalism Collaborative

Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine in Sedgwick County right now?

The Sedgwick County Health Department is currently offering COVID-19 vaccinations to county residents 16 and older.

How do I schedule an appointment to get vaccinated?

You can schedule a vaccination appointment in English or Spanish by calling (316) 660-1029 or by visiting https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/covid-19/vaccine/schedule/. Caretakers or adult children can schedule appointments on behalf of people who can’t do so for themselves.

Where will I receive my vaccine?

Vaccines are being administered at the former downtown library at 223 S. Main. The county has also partnered with Wichita Transit to open a drive-through vaccine clinic exclusively for people with mobility issues. The drive-through clinic is located at the Transit Operation Center at 777 E. Waterman.

What form of identification do I need to provide to receive my vaccine?

You must bring some form of identification, including a driver’s license or other ID card, or another documet such as a letter, vehicle registration, insurance card, passport or a bill in your name.

Can I get the vaccine if I’m undocumented?

Many undocumented immigrants work essential jobs that are considered high-priority for vaccination. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require states to submit COVID-19 vaccination data, including some personally identifiable data about vaccine recipients, the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services have agreed that such information may only be used for the public health response to COVID-19. The agreement specifies that data may not be used for civil or criminal prosecution or immigration enforcement.

Do I need medical insurance to get the vaccine?

Vaccine costs are covered for people with private insurance, but uninsured adults can also get vaccinated for free during the pandemic. Providers that administer COVID-19 vaccines to the uninsured at no cost will be reimbursed through government funds.

What are the differences between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?

Both vaccines are highly effective at preventing COVID-19. Pfizer’s vaccine protects 95% of recipients while Moderna’s protects 94%. Vaccine trials ran from July to November, with 43,661 volunteers enrolling in Pfizer’s trial and 30,420 participating in Moderna’s. Both vaccines are administered in two shots, a priming dose and a booster shot, over the course of several weeks. Pfizer’s doses are spaced 21 days apart while the interval for Moderna shots is 28 days.

Can I trust the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. There are many misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine, but it is safe. The vaccine does not contain a microchip, will not alter your DNA or cause infertility, and it does not make you contract the virus.

What are the known side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The most common side effects experienced after being vaccinated are pain or swelling at the injection site, fever, chills, tiredness or a headache. None of these side effects mean the vaccine is unsafe. U.S. health officials say roughly 1 in 100,000 people may have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine, but it is reversible and treatable.

How does the vaccine interact with medical conditions and medications?

People with underlying medical conditions may be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. The CDC say people with underlying medical conditions can receive the vaccine as long as they have not had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to any of its ingredients. Experts say the COVID-19 vaccine is very unlikely to interact negatively with existing medications in a person’s body.

Can children and pregnant women get the vaccine?

Pfizer’s vaccine has been authorized for ages 16 and up while Moderna’s has been authorized for ages 18 and up. Pfizer has asked the Food and Drug Administration to expand emergency approval for their vaccine to cover children ages 12-15 after successful clinical trials. Experts have reached no consensus on whether or not expecting mothers should be vaccinated, but clinical trials are underway. The CDC urges pregnant women to consult with their doctors before receiving the vaccine.

Can my employer force me to get the vaccine?

Employers can mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for their employees, but exceptions may be granted for medical or religious reasons.

What should I do after I get the vaccine?

Even after vaccination, you should continue practicing social distancing and wearing a face mask when you’re around others. Experts say it can take up to two weeks for your body to start developing antibodies after you receive the vaccine. Continued caution will also benefit others.