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NC opens COVID shots to all adults this week. We have 10 answers to common questions
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NC opens COVID shots to all adults this week. We have 10 answers to common questions

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As everyone age 16 and up becomes eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine for the first time in North Carolina, many people still have questions about the shots.

Vaccine appointments could be scarce until vaccine supply in Guilford County increases, health officials have warned. But as people search for those appointments, here are 10 answers to common questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Can anyone get a vaccine now?

Not quite — anyone age 16 and up can get a COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina as of today.

President Joe Biden headed to Virginia Tuesday to visit a COVID-19 vaccination site at Immanuel Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.

But Pfizer is the only vaccine currently offered to 16- and 17-year-olds. Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are for people age 18 and up.

And no COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in people younger than 16.

But just last week, Pfizer announced its vaccine was extremely effective in protecting participants from the coronavirus in a trial among youths age 12 to 15. The company will request an expansion of its Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to include those ages, according to Pfizer and partner BioNTech.

Which vaccines are available in Guilford?

All three vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA are in use in the Guilford County area. That includes the two-injection vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine.

Does it matter which vaccine I get?

No. The vaccines differ slightly on efficacy, according to the clinical trials of each vaccine. But local health experts say people should get whichever vaccine they can get first.

"The key is to get vaccinated and get some immunity built up," Novant infectious disease expert Dr. David Priest told reporters last week.

How many shots do I need?

That depends on the vaccine you get. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two shots, spaced weeks apart.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just the one injection.

When am I considered fully vaccinated?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after their Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.

How do I sign up for a vaccine?

A number of providers around Guilford County are offering the COVID-19 vaccines. Here's an updated list of vaccine providers in the Greensboro area.

• Guilford County Division of Public Health: www.healthyguilford.com; phone: 336-641-7944, Option 2. Receive appointment availability updates on your smartphone by texting gc19 to 888777.

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• Cone Health: www.conehealth.com/vaccine; phone: 336-890-1188.

• FEMA mass vaccination site: www.guilfordcountync.gov/how-do-i/gso-mass-vax; Phone: 888-675-4567.

• State COVID-19 vaccination finder: https://myspot.nc.gov/; phone: 877-490-6642.

• Walgreens: www.walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19.

• CVS: www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine.

• Harris Teeter: https://www.harristeeter.com/covidcare.

• Walgreens: https://www.walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19.

• Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine: https://tapmedicine.com/covid-19community-outreach/.

• StarMed Healthcare: https://starmed.care/.

• Christ Cathedral of the Triad/Gates Pharmacy: Appointments available Friday, April 9, and Monday, April 11. Walk-ins are accepted at the church at 4401 Alliance Church Road, but appointments are preferred. Phone 336-740-9784

Do I need to get vaccinated in my home county?

No. State officials have encouraged people to get vaccinated where they live, but it's fine for people to leave their county to find a vaccine appointment.

Are the vaccines safe?

Yes. Vann and other health officials have emphasized that the vaccines are very safe. All of the vaccines available in the Greensboro area have received emergency use authorizations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

And there's no way to catch COVID-19 from the vaccine, experts say.

Do I still need to wear a mask and social distance after I'm vaccinated?

Yes, for the most part. It's still not clear if people who are fully vaccinated can spread the coronavirus to unvaccinated people.

But people who are fully vaccinated may gather inside together without masks or social distancing, according to CDC guidelines.

Still, even fully vaccinated people should continue wearing masks and social distancing in public and in large groups, according to the CDC. And the state's mask mandate is still in effect.

Can I get COVID-19 after getting the vaccine?

Yes. It's still possible to contract COVID-19 after getting the vaccine. But in most cases, vaccinated people are protected from severe complications like hospitalization and death, Priest told reporters last week.

"It's not surprising in a country of 350 or 400 million people, that there will be a number of folks who are vaccinated (will) still get COVID," Priest said. "But their cases can be very mild and in general don't require hospitalization."

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