COVID-19 Information


Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 protects everyone, so we can all get back in the game, back to everyday life and back to business.

You might think you don’t need to be vaccinated if you’re healthy. If not for yourself, do it for older people and those who are medically vulnerable. Vaccines are proven to be safe, effective, and our best path forward for a healthy community.

It’s okay to have questions or be unsure. Get informed so you can make decisions about your health with all the facts.


Get informed. We’re all in this together. Take YOUR shot!

Information about COVID-19 vaccines on this page was taken from https://getvaccineanswers.org/. These answers were developed and vetted by the CDC.

To find a vaccination site near you, visit pima.gov/covid19vaccine.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/keythingstoknow.html.

Discuss your specific health concerns related to the COVID-19 vaccine with your primary care doctor.

In the United States, everyone ages 50 and over plus those severely to moderately immunocompromised who received their initial booster four months ago is currently eligible to receive a second dose of mRNA booster to increase their protection from severe disease from COVID 19.

Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. Protecting yourself also protects the people around you, like those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or those who can’t get vaccinated — including infants, or people with weakened immune systems from things like chemotherapy for cancer.

When we get a vaccine, it activates our immune response. This helps our bodies learn to fight off the virus without the danger of an actual infection. If we are exposed to the virus in the future, our immune system “remembers” how to fight it. All authorized COVID-19 vaccines provide significant protection against serious illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use messenger RNA, or mRNA. mRNA vaccines do not contain a live virus — they give our bodies “instructions” for how to make and fight the harmless spike-shaped proteins that will protect against a COVID-19 infection. While these vaccines use new technology, researchers have been studying them for decades.

The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is a viral vector vaccine and also does not contain a live virus. It uses a harmless adenovirus to create a spike protein that the immune system responds to, creating antibodies to protect against COVID-19.

None of these vaccines can give you COVID-19.

It takes time for your body to build immunity after vaccination, so you won’t have full protection until 2 weeks after your final dose.

In the United States, everyone age 5 and over is currently eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination. CDC recommends that everyone in this group get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they can.

The CDC has authorized the use of Pfizer-BioNtTech vaccines for people aged 5-17 and has authorized the Moderna and Janssen vaccines for people 18 years and older. More information available here.

Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.

Vaccines are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which sets strict standards for clinical trials and rigorously evaluates scientific data submitted by vaccine developers. Once vaccines are made available to the public, the FDA continues to monitor vaccines very closely for safety.

Researchers began developing vaccines for COVID-19 more than a year ago in January 2020, based on decades of understanding immune response and how vaccines work. Thousands of volunteers participated in clinical trials that started that spring, making sure we can trust the vaccines to be safe and effective.

Based on the results, the FDA has authorized multiple vaccines for public use. In December 2020, the FDA authorized two versions of COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech) for the American public. A third (Johnson & Johnson) was added in February 2021 and is currently available for use in the United States after a pause in April 2021. Doctors and medical experts with many years of experience regulating vaccines evaluated information about the safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality of the vaccines prior to making their decision.

After a vaccine is authorized by the FDA and made available to the public, experts continue to closely monitor the vaccines for ongoing safety and to help us learn more about questions like how long vaccines will provide protection.

The science behind the breakthrough had a head start. Researchers had already made progress developing vaccines for other types of coronaviruses: they applied lessons learned after the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2012 MERS outbreak. They also learned a lot from creating a vaccine for Ebola — which isn’t a coronavirus but has taught us more about viruses.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 made developing these vaccines an international priority, unlocking billions of dollars in funding to ensure safety while moving with urgency to save lives.

Many researchers and medical experts have come together to develop the vaccine while still meeting the FDA’s rigorous requirements for safety and effectiveness. While regulators have streamlined some steps in the vaccine authorization process, the vaccines still needed to meet the agency’s rigorous, scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.

After a vaccine is authorized by the FDA and made available to the public, experts continue to keep track of data to help ensure ongoing safety and help us learn more about questions like whether vaccinated people can still get infected without having symptoms.

Every vaccine must go through rigorous testing and inspection to ensure it is safe.

Vaccines for COVID-19 followed a 3-phase process where there are several stages required before FDA authorization:

Phase 1: The vaccine is tested in a small number of generally healthy adults, usually between 20 and 80 people. It’s evaluated for safety, dosage, and any side effects. Experts also look at what type of immune response is created.

Phase 2: If there are no safety concerns from Phase I studies, the vaccine is given in various dosages to hundreds of adults who may have a variety of health issues and come from different backgrounds to make sure it is safe. These studies provide additional safety information on common short-term side effects and risks, examine the relationship between the dose given and the immune response, and may provide initial information regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Phase 3: Experts broaden the study to include thousands of adults, from a variety of ages and backgrounds. They see how many people who got the vaccine were protected from the disease, compared to those who received a placebo.

After a vaccine is authorized by the FDA and made available to the public, FDA continues to monitor its safety very closely. FDA also continues to oversee the production of the vaccine, including periodic facility inspections, to ensure continuing safety.

People with underlying medical conditions can receive a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people with underlying medical conditions. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Learn more at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/underlying-conditions.html

Serious side effects that would cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely following COVID-19 vaccination.

Long-term side effects following any vaccination are extremely rare. Vaccine monitoring has historically shown that if side effects are going to happen, they generally happen within six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose.

For this reason, the Food and Drug Administration required each of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines to be studied for at least eight weeks after the final dose. Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines, and no long-term side effects have been detected.

Current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States offer protection against most variants. However, some variants might cause illness in some people after they are fully vaccinated. We are still learning exactly how effective the vaccines are against new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

All authorized COVID-19 vaccines provide significant protection from serious illness and hospitalization. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

The Moderna vaccine is recommended for people age 18+ and includes 2 shots spaced 28 days apart. It is a messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccine. Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 and provides significant protection against serious illness.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is recommended for people aged 5+ and includes 2 shots spaced 21 days apart. It is an mRNA vaccine. Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 and provides significant protection against serious illness.

The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is delivered in one shot only. It is a viral vector vaccine. Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 72% effective at preventing COVID-19 and provides significant protection against serious illness. Health officials are closely monitoring all vaccines for safety, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Having multiple vaccines is crucial so that vaccination programs can quickly reach as many people as possible. Find out more here.

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

There are currently two types of COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized and recommended for use in the United States: messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and a viral vector vaccine. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the genetic material in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. All COVID-19 vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.

Learn more about how mRNA COVID-19 vaccines work. ​

Learn more about how viral vector vaccines work.

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

For moderately or severely immunocompromised people who are 18 years of age or older, the CDC recommends a single COVID-19 vaccine booster to be considered “fully vaccinated”

• At least 2 months after the primary dose of the Janssen vaccine (2 shots to be considered fully vaccinated)
• At least 6 months after the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (3 shots to be considered fully vaccinated)
• An additional booster shot (a 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose) is available for immunocompromised people aged 18 years or older at least 6 months after receiving a third mRNA vaccine

More information available here.

If you are 16 years of age or older, you are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. Pima County Health Department has issued a recommendation to every person who is in this age group to go get their booster shot as soon as possible.

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you are only eligible for the Pfizer booster shot.

If you are 18 years of age and older, you are eligible for Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, Moderna, or Pfizer.

All 3 booster shots are effective and available at multiple vaccination administration sites throughout Pima County.

Learn more from the CDC here. Read the full PCHD Public Health Advisory here.

If you are 16 or 17 years of age, you can receive the Pfizer booster shot only. If you are 18 years of age and older, you can choose which booster shot you get, regardless of what you received as your primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

It is recommended that each person determine how they reacted to their initial dose and to consult their primary care providers to choose which vaccine booster is best for them.

All 3 booster shots have been shown to help increase the effectiveness and protection of the primary vaccination.

The CDC identified various health conditions that make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Severe illness means that a person with COVID-19 may need hospitalization, intensive care, a ventilator to help them breathe, or death. These health conditions include:

• Cancer
• Chronic kidney disease
• Asthma
• COPD
• Damaged or scarred lung tissue
• Cystic fibrosis
• Pulmonary hypertension
• Dementia
• Diabetes
• Down Syndrome
• Heart Disease
• Heart failure
• Coronary artery disease
• Cardiomyopathies
• Hypertension
• HIV
• Immunocompromised state
• Liver disease
• Overweight
• Obesity
• Severe obesity
• Pregnancy
• Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
• Smoking, current or former
• Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
• Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
• Substance use disorders

People with Certain Medical Conditions | CDC


PCOA OPERATING UPDATE

For those who are receiving services through PCOA, there will be no interruption in service. Though we’ve opened our doors, we continue to encourage community members to seek support by calling our Helpline at (520) 790-7262 or by emailing help@pcoa.org.

In accordance with CDC guidelines, masking at PCOA facilities is recommended and encouraged for staff, volunteers, and members of the public. Masks will be available if needed at our front desks. CDC recommends people at high risk of serious illness from COVID 19 discuss when they should wear masks and other precautions with their healthcare provider. PCOA representatives will gladly put on a mask at your request. For the time being, food will not be permitted to be served indoors at our facilities. Participants at in-person event(s) will be expected to adhere to distancing and safety guidelines as provided. For small or large group settings where 6 feet of physical distance cannot be always maintained, masks will be required. Guidelines for functions held in community sites not operated by PCOA may vary.


Important Ways to Slow the Spread

What is PCOA Doing to Keep Older Adults Safe?

How Can I Help?

How Can I Get Help from PCOA?

COVID-19 Assistance and Services (Resources, Videos, Tutorials)

Important Ways to Slow the Spread

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
  • Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

What is PCOA doing to keep older adults safe?

PCOA is closely monitoring the news and available resources from the Centers on Disease Control (CDC), are in regular contact with local health officials, and have put in place prevention and response plans.

With our community partners, we have worked to ensure uninterrupted service to our most vulnerable clients, including those who rely on us for home-delivered meals, in-home care and congregate meals.

Our Marian Lupu building at 8467 E Broadway is open, though we encourage you to call 520-790-7262 to make an appointment before coming, so we can ensure the right staff is available to assist you. The Dusenberry Center at 600 S Country Club is currently not open to the public. We have worked diligently to continue providing services to our community remotely with as little disruption as possible. Most of our services are still available, though many are now being delivered primarily by phone, email, or live or recorded video.

How can I help?

Start by practicing good hygiene and social distancing – and you can also volunteer. Neighbors Care Alliance affiliates across our community are stepping up to meet the increased need for assistance with shopping, errand-running and friendly check-ins by telephone. Learn more here.

PCOA has seen greatly increased need from older adults in our community and we don’t anticipate that need decreasing in the near future. Your donation to help us care for our older friends and neighbors is greatly appreciated.

How Can I Get Help from PCOA?

We are here to help you in these challenging times. You can access our services by calling our Helpline at (520) 790-7262 or emailing help@pcoa.org.

If you reach a recording asking you to leave a message, please do so and you will receive a call back as soon as possible, usually within one or two business days. We encourage you to call or email rather than visiting, if possible. If you require in-person assistance, our Marian Lupu building at 8467 E Broadway is open to the public. Because much of our staff is working remotely, we encourage you to call and make an appointment to ensure a staff member with the right expertise is available to assist you.

For the most current and accurate information about COVID-19 and its impact on our community, please visit:

COVID-19 Resources

See all COVID-19 Resources

Additional Resources

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