As vaccines for the novel coronavirus become more readily available in Northeast Ohio, Case Western Reserve University will provide additional information.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the vaccines that are now available.

About the Vaccines

As of now, expert federal panels have independently evaluated and approved distribution of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson within the United States.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses (Pfizer, 21 days after the first; Moderna, 28 days after the first), while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one.

Federal health officials consider all three highly effective and encourage people to get whatever vaccine is available.

None of the more than 121,000 participants in clinical trials for the three vaccines had severe reactions determined to be related to the vaccine.

Of the hundreds of thousands of doses administered in the U.S. in December, about a half dozen people receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine suffered severe allergic reactions. Only one such reaction to Moderna has been reported; it was in a physician who has a severe shellfish allergy. He had recovered fully by the following day, and continues to advocate for vaccination. Two people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in February had severe reactions.

The most common side effects from both vaccines include feeling fatigue or mild soreness in your upper arm. Some also experience a headache, fever and/or chills, but all usually go away within a few hours or by the next morning.

People who have already had a COVID-19 vaccine should not get another one. People who are prone to severe allergies, pregnant, breastfeeding or immunocompromised may want to speak with your health provider before receiving either vaccine.

The vaccine from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca continues to be in clinical trials as of March.

Because of the scarcity of doses, people will not have a choice of vaccines in the near future. The goal is to get as many people immunized as possible with a vaccine proven to be effective—regardless of who developed it. You can choose to delay receiving a vaccine when you are eligible, but doing so means you will not know when another opportunity may arise.

Yes. We all need to continue to follow preventative protocols until health experts determine that the number of vaccinated individuals and COVID-19 cases indicate it is safe to begin to loosen those measures. Keep in mind, however, that process will be extremely gradual, versus all at once.

This fact sheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides an easy-to-understand summary about the vaccines.

This CDC webpage offers information about what to expect on the day you go to get your first vaccination.

Distribution of Vaccines (Ohio)

Distribution of Vaccines (CWRU)

In some instances, the circumstances may be that a dose may go to waste if not given within a certain time period. In others, universities own their hospitals or health centers and previously stipulate university recipients as part of the hospitals’ participation in the initial vaccination distribution process.

You first may want to check with your supervisor or look at your organization’s website to determine its schedule for distribution of doses. You also can check with your county and/or city health departments or other local distribution sites to find out how you can receive a vaccine. 

Case Western Reserve will continue to update the campus community regarding its own ability to administer vaccines or facilitate opportunities for faculty, staff and students to get them.

One of the lessons of this pandemic is that nearly every person’s situation is different. Some in their 20s are so severely immunocompromised as to be at greater risk than a person three times their age. University leaders have worked closely with supervisors to identify ways to support the university’s mission of education and research in light of individual staff concerns about health. People with specific concerns should contact Human Resources at

The university strongly encourages members of the campus community who have the opportunity to be vaccinated to do so. In addition, some of Case Western Reserve’s partner institutions may issue vaccine requirements that affect our community members. We will continue to monitor developments regarding vaccine supplies and policies and update the community as needed.

Yes. Because researchers do not know whether immunized individuals can still transmit COVID-19, everyone coming to campus (even if for a short time) must be tested. Please note that testing of those who have been vaccinated will not result in a false positive.