COVID-19 Vaccine

The Erie County Health Department, in coordination with the Ohio Department of Health, has developed a COVID-19 vaccination plan centered around the distribution of the vaccine for populations that are at the highest risk initially. Vaccines are in short supply in Ohio and across the country. County allocations are expected to be in the hundreds, not thousands. In the early stages of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, the limited supply of vaccines will be allocated to specific critical populations as part of a phased approach. 

We are currently vaccinating Phase 1B. Priority populations targeted in this phase include:

  • Erie County residents age 65 and up

    • This category will be further broken down by age (eg. 80+, 75+, etc...). When a new age group begins, vaccinations may not be complete for the previous age group. It will take a number of weeks to distribute all of the vaccine given the limited doses available

  • Erie County Residents with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders that make them particularly vulnerable. These conditions include:

    • Sickle cell anemia

    • Down syndrome

    • Cystic fibrosis

    • Muscular dystrophy

    • Cerebral palsy

    • Spina bifida

    • People born with severe heart defects, requiring regular specialized medical care

    • People with severe type 1 diabetes, who have been hospitalized for this in the past year​

    • Phenylketonuria (PKU), Tay-Sachs, and other rare, inherited metabolic disorders

    • Epilepsy with continuing seizures; hydrocephaly; microcephaly, and other severe neurological disorders

    • Turner syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and other severe genetic disorders

    • People with severe asthma, who have been hospitalized for this in the past year

    • Alpha and beta thalassemia

    • Solid organ transplant candidates and recipients

  • Adults/employees in all schools that want to go back, or to remain, educating in person

We are committed to making the vaccine widely available based on CDC and ODH guidelines, for those who want to receive it, as quickly as possible when shipments arrive. Information can change rapidly and frequently. We will continue to update the public as often as possible to provide the most factual and current information.  


COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

How long will my immunity last after I get the vaccine?

At this time, it is unknown as to how long the immunity will last from the injection of the vaccine. They continue to study this, with many hopeful that it will last for a year or longer. At this time it is unknown if a booster dose will be needed in the future.

Will I have to continue to wear my mask and social distance if I receive the vaccine?

Yes. The trials only determined if patients who received the vaccine went on to get a symptomatic illness, or in other words, got sick from COVID-19. They showed that when the vaccine was effective that you not only avoided severe illness but did not get symptoms at all from COVID-19. Even if you get the vaccine, it is unknown, but possible, that you could still become an asymptomatic carrier and be able to spread it to others. Therefore we will need to continue with masking and protecting those around us in the near future. The trials of the RNA vaccine showed that if you get the vaccine, you will have an approximately 95% less chance of getting sick from COVID-19.

When will the vaccine be available?

The first shipment of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Erie County on 12/22/2020. The Erie County Health Department received a limited supply of doses. In the early stages of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, doses will be available in limited supply for specific critical populations as part of a phased approach. We are committed to making the vaccine widely available, for those who want to receive it, as quickly as possible when shipments arrive.

Who can get the vaccine?

As the vaccine first becomes available, the number of doses will be limited. These limited doses will be allocated to vaccine providers enrolled in Ohio according to federal guidelines and will be administered to those at the highest risk for spreading the virus, contracting the virus, or those at the highest risk of death. Visit the Ohio Department of Health for further guidance as this is an evolving process.

Who should not get the vaccine?

The emergency use authorization recommends the vaccine for ages 16 and older.

Vaccination is not recommended if you are:

- Under the age of 16

- Are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant in the next 2 months

- Are allergic to any components of the vaccine

If you are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant in the next 2 months, or if you are currently breast-feeding, then you should not get the vaccine. It is likely that in the future the vaccine will be approved in pregnancy and breast-feeding, but it is not at this time due to lack of data. If you get pregnant after getting the vaccine, do not panic, it is thought to be safe in pregnancy, it just has not been studied vigorously in pregnant women.

If you are allergic to any components of the vaccine, or if you have had a severe allergic reaction to a food or medicine in the past, then you should consult an allergist before getting the vaccine.

How many COVID-19 vaccines are under development?

In addition to the two mentioned above, large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials are in progress or being planned for several additional COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

COVID-19 RNA vaccines have been given to tens of thousands of people in clinical trials. Those trials not only confirmed that the vaccine is safe but also showed it to work very well at preventing you from becoming ill from coronavirus.

Because the COVID-19 vaccine is an RNA-based therapy, are there any anticipated genetic effects or other long-term effects based on current published literature?

The vaccine sends a message to your cells to instruct them to create a protein. Your immune system will then react to that protein that your body made. The message then goes away. There is no affect or integration into your DNA/genetic sequence.

How can a safe vaccine be made so quickly?

Vaccine development typically takes many years. However, scientists had already begun research for coronavirus vaccines during previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). That earlier research provided a head start for the rapid development of vaccines to protect against infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The messenger RNA technology allows the vaccine to be mass-produced at a much faster pace than older, conventional vaccine technology.

Will more than one dose of COVID-19 vaccine be recommended per patient?

At this time, it’s anticipated that COVID-19 vaccines will require two doses separated by 21 (Pfizer) or 28 days (Moderna). The second dose of any COVID-19 vaccine must be completed with the same vaccine brand as the first dose.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

It is impossible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine, there is no virus given to you in the vaccine.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Any vaccine or medication can cause side effects because of the natural response of your immune system activation. These are typically minor, such as a sore arm or low-grade fever, and go away within a few days. Safety is the top priority of any vaccine. Early results from the first COVID-19 vaccines tested in people show they worked as intended with no serious side effects.

Why do I have to wait 15 minutes after vaccine administration before I leave?

The recommended 15-minute observation period after vaccination is related to an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendation for all vaccines. Patients that develop lightheadedness or may faint and fall usually occurs within 15 minutes after vaccine administration. The recommended 15-minute observation period is not associated with the COVID-19 vaccine specifically, but rather, is a broad recommendation for all vaccine types. A location that has enough space to allow for appropriate social distancing will be used for this purpose.

Can other vaccines help prevent me from getting COVID-19?

Other vaccines, such as those for flu, measles, or other diseases, will not protect you from COVID-19. Only the vaccines designed specifically to protect you from COVID-19, once approved for use by the FDA, can prevent COVID-19. While a flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID-19, it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. Because the flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading during this time, getting a flu vaccine is more crucial than ever.

Should people who have already had COVID-19 get the vaccine?

Yes, it is advised that people who have already had COVID-19 get the vaccine. The vaccine may cause a better and longer immune response than the natural infection. If you have had the disease already, the vaccine will act as a booster for your immune system. Therefore, there is no need to check for antibodies to COVID-19 before getting the vaccination. If you have already had COVID-19 and are planning to receive the vaccine, please ensure that any acute symptoms have resolved and you have been released from isolation before being vaccinated.

How much will it cost to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The federal government pays for the cost of the vaccine itself. Institutions giving the vaccine will charge an administration fee which will be billed to insurance. No out-of-pocket expense will be charged to any patient, regardless of ability to pay.

Who is offering the vaccine outside of the Erie County Health Department?

The Erie County Health Department is vaccinating the community in conjunction with Firelands Regional Health System. Local pharmacies are also offering the vaccine. This is being rolled out through a phased distribution plan created by the State of Ohio.


Erie County COVID-19 Vaccine Registration

COVID-19 vaccine providers include the Erie County Health Department, Firelands Regional Health System, Kroger Pharmacy, Giant Eagle Pharmacy, and Discount Drug Mart in Sandusky and Huron. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be utilized depending on where a patient receives their vaccine. Registration will also differ based on location of service.

  • Erie County Health Center and Firelands: Registration for the COVID-19 vaccine will be completed online. Upon registration, if you are eligible to receive the vaccine, one of our staff members will contact you as soon as possible to schedule your appointment and inform you of the required documentation needed for your appointment. Appointments will be based on availability of the vaccine and priority group status. The Erie County Health Department has also set up a COVID-19 vaccine registration line, which can be reached at 567-867-8222. This automated phone system is only to be utilized by individuals who do not have access to or do not have assistance completing the online COVID-19 vaccine registration.

  • Kroger Pharmacy: All COVID-19 vaccines will require an appointment via or the COVID-19 vaccine help line at 866-211-5320, which will be available starting Saturday, January 16th.

  • Giant Eagle Pharmacy: For vaccine information visit\CovidVaccine

  • Discount Drug Mart:

    • Sandusky: Call (419) 625-0733 to schedule an appointment

    • Huron: Call (419) 433-4565 to schedule an appointment


While we know that many people in our community are eager to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we must be patient while demand for the vaccine remains higher than the available supply.

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© 2020 Erie County Health Department