COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Soon, we expect to help vaccinate more people with the COVID-19 vaccine. As state and local officials move closer to announcing the next tier of eligible individuals, we want you to know what to expect:
- If you identify as an eligible individual based off your age, place of employment or occupation, we encourage you to closely monitor communication from your local public health department. We will continue to partner with local public health departments on the best strategies to vaccinate and broadly communicate to these groups of individuals.
- We expect COVID-19 vaccines to be widely available to the general public later in 2021. Please note that community members aren't able to sign up for the vaccine in advance.
In the meantime, we encourage everyone, including those who have received the vaccine, to wear a face covering, social distance and wash your hands frequently in order to help reduce your risk of COVID-19.
See our COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for more information. Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí.
Phase 1B in Iowa
Vaccine Availability & Distribution
Supplies will increase over time, and the vaccine should be able to the general public later in 2021. As soon as we have more information to proceed, we will partner with public health to contact people who are eligible for the vaccine regarding next steps. A COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed.
How is the vaccine being distributed right now?
The vaccine is being distributed according to federal, state and public health guidelines, health care workers with the highest risk of exposure were identified as the first tier to receive the vaccine. We started vaccinating UnityPoint Health team members in December 2020 and continue to make progress based on available number of vaccine doses.
The next tier will include additional essential workers and higher risk patients. Distribution will depend on the number of available vaccine doses and progress will vary by county due to a variety of factors. If you identify as a member of one of these groups, please know we're working quickly to determine eligibility, timelines and processes. We appreciate your patience.
We expect COVID-19 vaccines to be widely available to the general public later in 2021. Eligibility, timelines and processes will depend on the number of available vaccine doses.
How will I be notified when I can receive the vaccine?
As soon as we have more information to proceed, we will partner with public health to contact people who are eligible for the vaccine regarding next steps.
About the Vaccine
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Since COVID-19 is a new virus, we understand you may have questions about COVID-19 vaccine safety. It's important to note that the FDA established rigorous safety requirements for these vaccines, and more than 70,000 individuals participated in the clinical trials. Even though the virus itself is new, the science behind the vaccines is not new—it is rooted in years of research, and every step of the vaccine process went through the same safety assessments as all other vaccines. Finally, we want our community to know that our clinical leaders and vaccine and infectious disease experts thoroughly reviewed all data surrounding the clinical trials of these vaccines, and they support vaccination to help stop the pandemic. For more information on vaccine safety, we recommend visiting the CDC website.
How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
What are the ingredients in the COVID vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Unlike traditional vaccines, mRNA vaccines do not take a virus or germ, weaken it and inject in the body to illicit an antibody response. The vaccine will not put COVID in your body or alter your DNA in any way. Instead, the COVID vaccine teaches your body to make a protein. Your cells then make this protein, illicit an antibody response and protect you from getting COVID.
There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval by the FDA. Ingredients for the Pfizer COVID Vaccine may be found on the EUA Fact Sheet.
Ingredients for the Moderna COVID Vaccine may be found on the EUA Fact Sheet.
What are the potential side effects?
Side effects are common, but generally mild to moderate
and occur within the first few days of getting the vaccine. For more information on vaccine safety, speed of development and potential side effects of vaccination, we recommend reading the Pfizer EUA Fact Sheet and Moderna EUA Fact Sheet. Both materials were created by the FDA and
include the latest information.
Will people need to mask after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it's still important to follow all the guidelines we've come to know during the pandemic: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and stay home when you're sick. We don't know how long the immunity from the vaccine is going to last, and it's going to be a while before a large percentage of our communities get this vaccine.
When should I get my second dose?
Both vaccines currently available have two doses. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose at least 21 days after your first dose, and the Moderna vaccine requires a second dose at least 28 days after your first dose. Once vaccines become available to the public, it will be optimal to remain consistent within these time frames. However, the CDC says if the second vaccine dose is given late, the series does not need to be restarted. (Please note the second dose will be the same brand as the initial dose, because there is not data to support interchanging brands. Because of limited supply, it is unlikely that community members will be able to select which COVID vaccine they'd like to receive.)
Where can I find more information and/or data on the safety and efficacy of the COVID vaccine?
Data for Pfizer and Moderna is publicly available through the FDA website, found on the Pfizer EUA Fact Sheet. Moderna EUA Fact Sheet.
Should I Get the Vaccine?
Is the vaccine mandatory for UnityPoint Health team members?
The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory for UnityPoint Health team members at this time. Each team member will be provided educational materials so they can be equipped to make an informed decision on whether or not they choose to receive the vaccine.
Should pregnant or nursing individuals receive the vaccine?
Pregnant and nursing individuals are eligible to receive the vaccine. They were excluded from the clinical trials in the development of this vaccine, so no information has been collected regarding its safety during pregnancy. However, our Women's Service Line supports the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the position the vaccine should be offered to pregnant and lactating individuals. You can learn more about the American Academy of Pediatrics considerations and recommendations regarding receiving the vaccine while pregnant or nursing.
It is important to know that being pregnant puts a woman at increased risk of more severe COVID-19 with an increase in ICU admission and ventilator use when compared to non-pregnant women in the same age group. The bottom line – it's a personal decision, so we recommend pregnant individuals contact their provider to discuss their individual situation. Also, the COVID-19 vaccine does not impact fertility.
View our helpful decision-making guide
Should I get the vaccine if I've had COVID-19?
Yes. If you've already had COVID-19, your body may have built up antibodies to fight future infection. We know that natural infection results in immunity lasting at least 90 days, but we do not yet know how long that immunity lasts. Because of natural immunity, individuals who have had COVID-19 can consider deferring vaccination for 90 days, particularly in times of vaccine shortage. However, it is safe and effective to get the vaccine sooner, as long as your active infection and isolation period has ended.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have allergies?
If you have severe anaphylaxis or an allergy to one of the ingredients of the COVID-19 vaccine, please talk to your health care provider. For most people, even those with seasonal allergies or minor food allergies, it is safe, and we highly recommend getting the vaccine.
Making a Difference - One Vaccine at a Time
History in the making as the COVID-19 vaccine arrived at UnityPoint Health campuses for our front-line team members. When it's your turn, we hope you'll roll up your sleeve, too.