COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Are you a Medical Provider? Click this link to sign up for the Baltimore City Health Department's COVAX provider newsletter!

For the latest updates related to COVID-19 Vaccine Access in Baltimore City, click here. 

Members of Priority Group 1A and 1B and 1C, click here to learn more about available COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

BCHD’s plan for allocation and prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccine follows CDC and MDH vaccine prioritization guidance. This plan is interim and might be updated based on changes in MDH vaccine prioritization guidance, changes in conditions of FDA Emergency Use Authorization, FDA Authorization of new COVID-19 vaccines, changes in vaccine supply, or changes in COVID-19 epidemiology.

This website will be updated frequently, so please bookmark this website! Questions or Suggestions about this website and information about COVID-19 vaccines?  Email [email protected].

Jump To:

Allocation of Vaccine
Priority Groups
Side Effects
Frequently Asked Questions
Background
How Do The Vaccines Work?
Differences between the Vaccines
Additional Information
 

Background

  • In December 2020, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna were granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for COVID-19 vaccines.
  • This means the vaccine has been tested and is considered safe and effective for the general public to take.

How do they work?

  • Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are known as mRNA vaccines. 
  • mRNA vaccines help our body develop immunity against COVID-19. Immunity means that your body will quickly recognize the virus that causes COVID-19 and will protect you from getting sick. 
    • mRNA vaccines do not change your DNA 
    • mRNA vaccines do not cause disease
    • mRNA vaccines are not weakened COVID19 virus
  • The vaccines require 2 separate doses to be fully protected from COVID-19
    • For the Pfizer vaccine, the doses are 21 days apart.
    • For the Moderna vaccine, the doses are 28 days apart.

What are the differences between the Moderna Vaccine and the Pfizer Vaccine?

 A powerpoint slide. Text reads "The COVID-19 Vaccines Summary" Pfizer vaccine, two doses, 21 days apart, approved for 16 year olds and up, 95% efficacy and reduces the risk of severe illness. Moderna Vaccine, 2 doses, 21 days apart, approved for 18 ye

Side Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccines

Image is a white background with text. Text reads, common side effects are mild to moderate and last 1-3 days.Pain, redness, swelling at injection site Fatigue Headache Muscle pain Joint pain Fever Lymph-node swelling

 

Frequently Asked Questions About the COVID-19 Vaccines

We've turned these Frequently Asked Questions on our Infographics Page. The Maryland Health Department has created a frequently asked questions website that we encourage residents to visit for additional information. Some of the most frequently asked questions we're received are directly answered below. Check back frequently for updates! 

What is the COVID-19 Vaccine?

  • The COVID-19 vaccine protects you from getting sick with COVID-19
  • The vaccine comes in two shots. After getting your first shot, you will take the second shot in 3-4 weeks.
  • You need to wait 2 weeks after your second shot to be fully protected from COVID-19.

How Does the Vaccine Work?

  • COVID-19 vaccine uses mRNA, which teaches your body to safely build protection against COVID-19.
  • mRNA does not change your genes (DNA) because the mRNA cannot affect your DNA

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?

  • Yes! The COVID-19 vaccines have been tested in trials and the data shows that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and that they work. People that get the vaccine are asked to report any side effects, so we know it continues to be safe.

How can we know it is safe and works if it was produced so fast?

  • Scientists have been working with mRNA vaccines for more than a decade and were able to quickly apply them to the COVID-19 virus. Extra money from the federal government allowed them to work faster, but without skipping any steps. Because the disease has been spreading fast, they were able to show the vaccine worked much sooner than they would for other vaccines.

Can a COVID-19 vaccine make you sick with COVID-19?

  • No! COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the virus. This means the vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.
  • The vaccine teaches our body to recognize and fight the COVID-19 virus.
  • With the shots, you may have mild symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms show that your body is building protection.

Who Should Get the Vaccine?

  • Everyone should get vaccinated, including those with health problems and older adults.
  • Even if you already had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated to protect yourself and others.

What about Social Distancing?

  • Even if you are vaccinated, please continue to wear your mask, wash your hands often, and stay at least 6 feet away from other people you do not live with.
  • Your efforts will help keep everyone safe!

Why is it important to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • The vaccine reduces your chances of getting sick from COVID-19 and may reduce your chance of spreading it to others

What if I can’t afford the vaccine?

  • The vaccine is free! 
  • Some online appointment systems may ask you for your insurance information, but even if you have no insurance, you can get the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19 

  • There are several different types of vaccines in development, however, none of the COVID-19 vaccines available or currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The goal for each of these vaccines is to 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 a sign that the body is building immunity.  

People who have been infected with COVID-19 will still benefit from getting the COVID-19 vaccine 

  • At this time, we do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. We don’t know exactly how long immunity produced by a vaccination lasts but there is strong evidence to support that immunity due to vaccination lasts longer than natural immunity. The vaccine provides longer and stronger immunity 

Getting vaccinated can help prevent getting sick with COVID-19 

  • While many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may develop more severe illness or even death. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. If you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. 

Until we’ve reached herd immunity, you still need to wear a mask, avoid large indoor gatherings, and physically distant even after getting the vaccine.  

  • Even though the vaccine is between 94 and 95% effective at reducing severe illness, about 1 in 20 people who receive it will not become immune.  At this time, it is also unclear whether having immunity protects you from carrying the virus and passing it to others. Until a significant portion of the population becomes immune (referred to as “herd immunity”), the precautions must be carefully followed. This will likely take months or even years depending on vaccine uptake. 

Receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA 

  • mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease. 

For questions about COVID-19 Vaccine specifically focused on expecting and new mothers, click here.

Key Principles for Allocation in Baltimore City

During the early weeks of Maryland’s vaccination program, vaccine supply is expected to be limited. With a limited supply of vaccines, healthcare workers, first responders, LTCF residents and people at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease will need to be sub-prioritized. Multiple factors, informed by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine, have been considered for sub-prioritization, such as, but not limited to:  

  • Risk of acquiring infection: People have higher priority if work or live in an environment with a higher risk of transmission due to a circulating virus.
  • Risk of severe morbidity and mortality: People with a high risk of severe outcomes (hospitalization, mechanical ventilation) and death from SARS-COV-2 infection. People who are older or have chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of severe outcomes.
  • Risk of negative societal impact: Inability to maintain services to preserve the functioning of society (i.e. providing health care, emergency response, public safety).
  • Risk of transmitting the virus to others (at work or at home): People have higher priority if there is a higher likelihood of them transmitting the disease to others.  

In the setting of limited vaccine supply, BCHD is utilizing ethical principles as outlined by ACIP to guide sub-prioritization decision making. These ethical principles are: 

  • Maximize benefits and minimize harm: Allocation of vaccine to groups or individuals should maximize the benefits of vaccination – reduction in hospitalization and death and reduction in risk of SARS-COV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19. Preserving the functioning of society and minimizing harm to certain individuals and groups should also be considered. 
  • Promotion of justice: All individuals and groups should have equal opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, within priority populations during constrained supply and when the vaccine becomes available to the general population. 
  • Mitigation of health inequity: Certain groups have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 with an increased risk of infection, hospitalization, and death. Socioeconomic marginalization, age distribution, occupation/employment-type, limited access to healthcare are intersecting determinants of health that have resulted in disparate outcomes in hospitalization and death among older adult, Latino/Hispanic, and African American Baltimore City residents. Prioritization of vaccine allocation for certain groups should aim to reduce health disparities and not widen or create disparities. 

BCHD’s sub-prioritization decision making is grounded in the promotion of transparency. Transparency is essential to building and maintaining community trust. Outreach to priority groups throughout the vaccination program is critical. BCHD is engaging community members, collaborating with City government agencies, local health organizations, and health systems to inform focused outreach to priority groups. BCHD is developing a public-facing COVID-19 vaccination data dashboard to show vaccine administration by age, race/ethnicity, neighborhood, and other demographics, and to help inform outreach to priority groups

Priority Groups and Tiers

Following is the sub-prioritization for allocating COVID-19 vaccine in Priority Group 1A, Priority Group 1B, and Priority Group 1C.  Settings and roles within a priority group have equal priority. Vaccine allocation within Priority Groups is tiered due to the initial limited vaccine supply. List order does not imply ranking within a tier. Sub-prioritization was developed in concert with Health Officers from Maryland jurisdictions for near consistent prioritization across the State. Baltimore City Health Department is developing tailored sub-prioritization accounting for specific population factors and priorities for Baltimore City.

 

ID: COvID-19 Vaccination Distribution, Phase 1C. Currently Baltimore City is in Phase 1C, Graphic lists all those in Phase 1A, 1B, 1C eligible for vaccine.

PHASE 1

Priority Group 1A

Tier 1

  • Hospital-based healthcare workers
  • Long Term Care Facilities Staff and Residents
  • Acute Living Facilities (ALF) staff and residents

Hospital systems are responsible for vaccine administration to hospital-based healthcare workers. CDC Pharmacy Partnership is coordinating distribution and administration of vaccination of residents and staffs at LTCF, ALF, DDA and RRP facilities.  

Tier 2

  • Populations with frequent exposure to individuals with known COVID-19 and/or providing services essential to the maintenance of public health and healthcare systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Populations that are unable to work from home and unable to control social distancing.
    • Public Health vaccinators and those administering COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1A.
    • Emergency Medical Services/Fire Department
    • COVID-19 testing staff: People providing testing at large community testing centers
    • Lord Baltimore TRI Center staff
    • Convention Center Field Hospital staff
    • Baltimore City Health Department Clinical Services and Syringe program staff
    • Urgent Care Staff
    • Dialysis Center Staff
    • Clinic-based primary care staff (internists, family practice, pediatricians, geriatricians)/Federally Qualified Health Centers
    • Home health staff
    • Correctional facilities/Detention Center health care staff

Tier 3a

  • Populations with risk of exposure to individuals with suspected COVID-19 and/or providing services essential to the maintenance of public health and health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Populations unable to work from home; may be unable to control social distancing
    • Law Enforcement: Police Department
    • Law Enforcement: Correctional facility officers, Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Works Police
    • Dentists
    • Pharmacists
    • Phlebotomists

Tier 3b

  • Populations at risk of exposure to individuals with suspected COVID-19 and/or providing services essential to the maintenance of public health and health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • May be able to telework or control social distancing.
    • Baltimore City Health Department LTCF Outreach and Field Services staff
    • Baltimore City Public Schools School Health staff
    • Community Health Workers
    • Home and Community- based visiting program staff
    • Specialty out-patient clinical staff
    • Outpatient surgery centers
    • Student Health staff at non-hospital affiliated academic institutions
    • Laboratory staff
    • Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy
    • Chiropractors
    • Optometrists
    • Audiologists
    • Podiatrists
    • Behavioral Health
    • Nutritionists
    • Morticians
    • Front-line judiciary

Governor Hogan announced on January 5th that all licensed, registered, and certified health care providers qualify for COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1A. For the full list of applicable positions, visit the website for the Maryland Code for Health Occupations. 

Priority Group 1B

  • It is well established that certain groups are at significantly higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness.  Older adults  75 years and older have a  more than 30 times higher risk of death from COVID-19 compared to persons 35-54 years old.
    • Adults aged 75 years and older
  • Other attributes that put people at significantly higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness include living and working in congregate settings, experiencing homelessness, living in an area with a high rate of transmission, and working in an industry with a high rate of transmission.
    • People experiencing homelessness
    • Shelter staff and residents
    • High-risk, incarcerated individuals
    • Those in developmental disabilities/behavioral health groups homes.
  •  
  • Other members of Priority Group 1B include
    • Education sector (K-12 Teachers and support staff in schools)
    • Child care workers
    • Continuity of government
       
  • Front-line essential workers hold critical jobs essential to the functioning of society and have potential occupational exposure to individuals with COVID-19.

 

Priority Group 1C:​​​ (Updated 1/25/21 by MDH)

Includes:

  • All Marylanders 65 and over
  • All other public safety (not in Phase 1A)
  • All other healthcare (not in Phase 1A),
    • Including, but not limited to Lab Services, Public Health, Vaccine Manufacturing, other healthcare professions).
  • Food and Agriculture Production
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • U.S. Postal Service
  • Public Mass Transit
  • Grocery Stores
  • Veterinarians and Support Staff 2
  • Clergy and other essential support for houses of worship

 

February 1st Update: Per the Maryland Department of Health, individuals who are currently hospitalized AND diagnosed with the following criteria are eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1C:

  • Cancer patients who are currently in active treatment
  • End-stage renal disease patients requiring hemodialysis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • Sickle cell disease patients
  • Diabetic patients (Type 1 and Type 2)

 

Future Phases

PHASE 2

  • Populations with high-risk medical conditions have a significantly increased risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Nearly 90% of persons hospitalized for COVID-19 have an underlying medical condition.
    • Adults 16/18 – 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions
    • High-risk medical conditions include:
      • Cancer
      • Chronic Kidney Disease
      • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
      • Down Syndrome
      • Heart conditions
      • Immunocompromised state
      • Obesity/Severe obesity
      • Pregnancy
      • Sickle Cell Disease
      • Smoking
      • Type 2 Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes
      • Asthma (moderate-severe)
      • Cerebrovascular disease
      • Cystic fibrosis
      • Hypertension or High Blood pressure
      • Immunocompromised conditions (from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, prolonged use of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive medication)
      • Dementia, ALS, other neurologic issues
      • Liver disease
      • Pulmonary disease
      • Thalassemia

 

    • Essential workers not previously in Phase 1A or Phase 1B
      • Transportation & logistics
      • Water and wastewater
      • Foodservice, including restaurant workers
      • Shelter & housing (e.g. construction)
      • Finance (e.g. banks)
      • IT & Communications
      • Energy
      • Legal (state’s attorneys, public defenders, judiciary)
      • Media
      • Public Safety (e.g., engineers)
      • Social & Human Services (Aging, DSS, Human Services) – field/in-home services
 

 

 

Additional Information