COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Essentia Health is following guidelines from state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Currently, everyone five years and older qualifies for the COVID-19 vaccine in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Safe and effective

Research and real-world monitoring show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization from COVID-19. COVID vaccines are a highly effective way to protect yourself and others from the risks of COVID-19. Common side effects include fatigue, sore arm and fever. These are similar to side effects from other vaccines.

Now offering boosters for children ages 5-11

We are excited to now be offering COVID-19 vaccine boosters for patients 5-11 years old. This age group is eligible five months after their primary vaccine series. The vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective for children. Scheduling vaccine appointments for 5-11 -year -old patients is available via MyChart or via phone at (833) 494-0836. Appointments are required and available at many Essentia Health clinic locations at this time. Essentia Health pharmacies will not have COVID-19 vaccine for patients ages 5-11 years old at this time.

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes boosters for individuals ages 5 and older to strengthen immunity. Individuals ages 5 through 17 are authorized to receive the Pfizer booster only.

The CDC approved a Moderna booster (half dose) at least five months after the initial two-dose series for those age 18+. The Pfizer single booster dose also is to be administered at least five months after the initial series for those ages 5+.

A Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) booster has been approved by the CDC under emergency use authorization for all individuals 18 and older at least two months after an initial single dose.

Separate from the booster approval, the FDA and CDC previously had approved a third dose of mRNA vaccine — Pfizer for ages 5+ or Moderna for ages 18 + — for moderately to severely immunocompromised people (those who have weaker immune systems) as soon as 28 days after their second mRNA shot. These patients would be eligible for a booster dose three months after this third dose was given.

Moderately to severely immunocompromised people who originally received the Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine should receive an mRNA dose 28 days later and a booster dose two months later.

'Mix-and-match' COVID-19 boosters

The CDC also authorized the use of “mix-and-match” booster doses for patients 18 years of age and older. In most cases, Pfizer or Moderna are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. Learn more about when to consider Johnson & Johnson on the CDC’s website.

A single booster dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines mentioned above may be administered as a booster dose in adults following completion of primary vaccination with a different COVID-19 vaccine. For those under 18 years of age, the booster should be the same product as the initial series.

Authorization for these mix-and-match booster doses drew CDC support because they produced similar or higher immunological responses as compared to boosters matching the original vaccine series. No safety concerns were identified with “mixing” vaccine doses, making access to boosters easier, and increasing equity.

Schedule an Appointment

Schedule a vaccine appointment via our MyChart patient portal. You do not need to be a patient of Essentia Health to open a MyChart account. You also can call (833) 494-0836 to schedule a vaccine appointment. Additionally, Essentia Health pharmacies will offer vaccination opportunities for those 12 and older. Please bring your vaccination card to your second dose or booster dose appointment.

Services: MyChart - Essentia Health

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During this COVID-19 pandemic, Essentia Health is using MyChart to assist everyone in scheduling their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Whether you are an Essentia Health patient or not, if you would like to receive your COVID vaccine from Essentia Health, we encourage you to register for MyChart for efficient scheduling of your vaccine.

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Download the MyChart app from the app store or go to EssentiaHealth.org and click MyChart

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Each step of the My Chart process.

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enter and activation code, or click sign up online. Complete the security check, then create a user ID and password. From there, you can complete the COVID vaccine form.

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Essentia Health is following guidelines from our state health departments in distributing the COVID vaccine.

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We will send you on MyChart scheduling ticket when you are eligible and the vaccine is available for you.

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The scheduling ticket prompts you to receive an alert through your email and MyChart inviting you to schedule your vaccine. Thank you.

Patients and community members can also call (833) 494-0836 to schedule a vaccine appointment. Availability of appointments is dependent on vaccine supply at each location. Using MyChart to schedule is the preferred method to reduce wait times on the phone.

Frequently Asked Questions

As COVID-19 vaccination continues, we've put together some frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, current vaccine availability and more below.

About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes. The vaccine has undergone highly rigorous testing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that has ensured its safety and millions of people have now received these vaccines worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is continuing to closely monitor for any rare side effects that should be further evaluated.

If you have specific concerns about your health conditions and whether the COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for you, please consult with your health care provider.

How does the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine work?

The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. That means it uses a modified version of a different, harmless virus to deliver important instructions to our cells, according to the CDC. The vaccine triggers our immune system to produce antibodies to fight off what it thinks is an infection, teaching our bodies to fight off a future COVID-19 infection.

How does a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine work?

Watch the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine patient education video learn more about what it is and how it works.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 so a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. There are short-term and mild side effects that have been shown to resolve without complication or injury in rates similar to some existing vaccines. Keep in mind that these side effects are one way your body shows it is responding to the vaccine.

If you had the virus and recovered will you still be able or need to get the vaccine?

Yes, you are still able, and should get the vaccine. If you have a known exposure to SARS-CoV-2 or an active case of COVID-19, it is recommended that vaccine administration is deferred until your quarantine period has ended to avoid exposing others during your vaccination visit.

What information do I need to know before receiving my COVID-19 vaccine?

If you have Allergies:

  • The CDC considers a history of the following to be a contraindication to vaccination with both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines:
    • Severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components
    • Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components (including polyethylene glycol [PEG])*
    • Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to polysorbate (due to potential cross-reactive hypersensitivity with the vaccine ingredient PEG)*
    • * These persons should not receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccination at this time unless they have been evaluated by an allergist-immunologist and it is determined that the person can safely receive the vaccine.
Ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

The CDC considers a history of the following to be a contraindication to vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Severe allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction – even if not severe – to any ingredient in the Janssen vaccine.
Ingredients: recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, citric acid monohydrate, trisodium citrate dihydrate, ethanol, 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD), polysorbate-80, sodium chloride.

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine only: Use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine was temporarily paused to evaluate reports of rare adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) following the administration of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. Nearly all reports of this serious condition, which involves blood clots with low platelets, have been in adult women younger than 50 years old. According to the CDC, this adverse event is occurring at a rate of about 7 per 1 million vaccinated women between 18 and 49 years old.

After an extensive risk/benefit analysis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended that the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine resumes. The CDC says the benefit of vaccination outweighs the potential risk of harm to patients overall.

Post vaccination monitoring:

  • There will be a 15-minute observation period for those vaccinated (any non-severe allergy history or no allergies)
  • For those with history of severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis from any source or an immediate reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies, the observation period should be 30 minutes. See more information here.

These patients should discuss with their providers to weigh personal risks/benefits:

  • Patients who are pregnant or lactating/breastfeeding
    • Routine pregnancy tests not recommended
  • Patients who are immunocompromised (Due to any cause, such as immunosuppressive medications, HIV/AIDS or other immunocompromising conditions)
  • Patients with a history of anaphylaxis to vaccines or injectable medications
  • Patients with a history of immediate allergic reactions to vaccines, injectable mediations or any ingredient of the vaccine (including polyethylene glycol and polysorbate).

Delay vaccination:

  • Known exposure to SARS-CoV-2: Defer until quarantine period has ended to avoid exposing others during vaccination visit

Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine

Who can get the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine?

You must be age 18+ to receive the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. The CDC says the Pfizer and Moderna (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines are preferred over Johnson & Johnson (Janssen). This is because of the risk of serious reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, including dangerous blood clots and low platelets (called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome). You may choose the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if you:

  • Had a severe reaction to an mRNA vaccine or are allergic to them.
  • Cannot access mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Want it even after being told about the risks and would otherwise not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Learn more about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on CDC.gov.

Who is eligible for the newly approved vaccine Comirnaty?

Comirnaty is the product name of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine initially provided under emergency use authorization (EUA). Effective Aug. 23, Comirnaty is an FDA-approved vaccine for preventing COVID-19 in individuals ages 16 and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine remains available under EUA for patients 5 to 15.

When will I be eligible for a booster?

Everyone age 5+ is eligible for a booster after completing their COVID-19 vaccine primary series. Most people should receive their booster at least five months after completing their primary vaccine series. For those who received the single dose of Johnson & Johnson for their primary vaccine, it’s recommended to get a booster of either Pfizer of Moderna at least two months after the primary vaccine.

People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system) have different timing for boosters. (See the next question in this FAQ to learn more.)

Certain people also may be eligible for a second booster at least four months after their first booster, including:

  • Those age 50+
  • Those age 12+ who are moderately or severely immunocompromised
  • Those who got 2 doses of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine

Talk to your doctor about the timing for boosters based on your age, situation and health conditions. Additional booster guidance can be found on CDC.gov.

When will I be eligible for a third dose and booster for those who are immunocompromised?

Separate from the boosters, the CDC and FDA recommend a third dose of mRNA vaccine — Pfizer for ages 5+ or Moderna for ages 18 + — for moderately to severely immunocompromised people (those who have weaker immune systems) as soon as 28 days after their second mRNA shot. (This “additional dose” is considered part of your primary series if you are immunocompromised.) These patients would be eligible for a booster dose three months after this third dose was given.

Moderately to severely immunocompromised people who originally received the Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine should receive an mRNA dose 28 days later and a booster dose two months later.

Talk to your doctor about the timing for boosters based on your age, situation, and health conditions. Additional guidance for those with weakened immune systems can be found on CDC.gov.

Do I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Under the Cares Act, your COVID-19 vaccination will be at no cost to you, even if you’re uninsured. Essentia Health strives to give our patients the best health care and customer service, and we want to help you understand the cost of your care.

The COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions have caused confusion about what health care costs are covered by insurance plans. Essentia Health is following the changing regulations to ensure that we are coding and processing our bills correctly.

Your insurance plan and your insurance provider determine what you pay as a deductible, co-payment or coinsurance on any claim, including those related to COVID-19, its symptoms and its treatment. If you have questions about your insurance coverage and your share of medical bill charges, please contact your insurance plan’s customer service line.

We want to help you understand your Essentia Health bill and explain any charges for your care. If you have questions or difficulty understanding your statement, please call us at (800) 985-4675 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

A photo ID is required. Optional: A smartphone to sign up for v-safe, a new vaccine safety program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Patients under 18 must also bring Unaccompanied Minor COVID Vaccine EUA Acknowledgment and GCA form signed by a parent/guardian to their vaccination appointment. Note that only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for minors age 12-18. Minors under the age of 5 are not able to receive either vaccine.

If you previously received a vaccine, also bring your CDC vaccination card.

How long before a coronavirus vaccine takes effect?

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine.

What happens if I have a reaction after vaccination?

If you have a reaction following the vaccine please report through CDC’s v-safe program, which you can download to your phone. If you’re having any reaction concerning to your health, seek emergency care.

If you have a severe reaction while receiving the vaccine, we have onsite protocols to support vaccine-related reactions. For patients with severe or immediate reactions to the first dose of the vaccine, consider follow-up with an allergist or your primary care provider prior to the second dose.

If I only receive the first vaccine in the two-dose series, is it still somewhat effective?

Two full doses are needed for full effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine requires only a single dose.

When will I receive my second dose?

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine require a second dose to be fully effective. While it has been recommended to receive this second dose at either 21 days after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine or 28 days after the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided guidance that it is safe and effective to receive the second dose of the vaccines up to 42 days after the first dose. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine requires only a single dose.

What do I need to think about post-vaccination?

Medications, such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs, can be taken to treat post-vaccine symptoms, if medically appropriate for you. Also, remember that two doses are recommended for both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine. While it has been recommended to receive this second dose at either 21 days after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine or 28 days after the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided guidance that it is safe and effective to receive the second dose of the vaccines up to 42 days after the first dose. The CDC offers guidance on safe activities following full vaccination.

How can I view proof of vaccine or test results?

Patients can now find completed COVID-19 Immunization documentation and COVID-19 test results in MyChart. Simply log in to MyChart or use the MyChart mobile app, and access the report under MENU then select COVID-19 to download a report.

*Information found here was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines, recommendations and medical understanding may have changed since the original publication date.

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