COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Yes. It is strongly recommended that persons 16 years of age and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine.


Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine will also not affect the results of viral tests. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination and efficacy is higher after the second dose. This means it is possible to be infected with the virus just after vaccination. Continue to wear your mask, social distance, and practice good hand hygiene.


How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?

Both Pfizer and Moderna showed a vaccine efficacy of 95% after dose 2.


If I currently have or have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Vaccination is recommended to persons regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.   Vaccination should be deferred until recovery from acute illness and criteria to discontinue isolation have been met.

There is no minimal interval between infection and vaccination, however, current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Persons with documented acute infection in the preceding 90 days may defer vaccination until the end of this period.


What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effect of the vaccine is a sore arm and injection site redness.  Other common side effects that occurred in the trial were headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and chills.  These were mostly mild/moderate symptoms and lasted on average of 2 days after the first injection and 3 days after the second injection.   There were no anaphylactic or severe hypersensitivity reactions related to the vaccine in the trial. If symptoms last longer than 72 hours, or you have more serious symptoms, contact your doctor.


Do I need 2 doses?

Yes. The Pfizer vaccine requires 2 doses 21 days apart and the Moderna vaccine requires 2 doses 28 days apart.  Both doses are necessary to provide the best protection.


Can my 2 doses be with different vaccines?

No. These vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or any other brand of COVID-19 vaccine.  You should receive the same vaccine for dose #2 that you did for dose #1.


I am immunocompromised, can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Specific guidelines stating who should not receive the vaccine have not been released yet. Until specific guidelines are published we suggest you reach out to your primary care provider or specialist for guidance.


I received my vaccine, can I stop wearing my mask now?

No. The best protection will not occur until a couple weeks after the second dose. It is also important to understand that no vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccinated persons should still follow all guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety.


I have a history of allergies; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you know you have a severe allergy (e.g. anaphylaxis) to any component of any of the COVID-19 vaccines do not get the vaccine at this time.

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or injectable therapy, you may still receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please alert you vaccinator if this is the case.

If you have a history of environmental, food, oral medication, latex, etc. allergies you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.


Are there any long-term side effects?

Since all COVID-19 vaccines are new, more time will be needed to determine possible long-term effects. However, current findings do suggest that the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks of getting infected with the virus itself.

Some of the long-term concerns with developing Coronavirus include (but are not limited to): inflammation of the heart muscle, lung function abnormalities, acute kidney injury, Blood clots and strokes, rash or hair loss, loss of smell and taste, sleep abnormalities, or depression.


How do I report side effects?

All recipients of the vaccine should to enroll in v-safe. This is a smartphone tool you can use to tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If you report serious side effects, someone from CDC will call to follow up. Information on v-safe can be found here: Side effects can be reported online through a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).


I previously received monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19, can I get vaccinated?

Vaccination should be deferred for at least 90 days to avoid interference of the treatment with vaccine-induced immune responses.


Can I get another vaccine at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine?

Current information suggests not getting other vaccines within 14 days of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.



UPDATE: Employee Face Masks and Eye Protection

UPDATE: Employee Face Masks and Eye Protection

Recommendations have changed. Beginning Monday, December 21st, employees in all departments must wear a level 3 surgical mask instead of a cloth mask while at work.

Level 3 Surgical Mask

Staff in clinical areas have already been wearing surgical masks, but this change will apply to non-clinical areas and office spaces. Because we cannot always guarantee our staff can safely distance themselves at least 6 feet at all times from co-workers, surgical masks will be required while on campus at any ARHS facility, regardless of your role.

A surgical mask protects the user from larger droplets from others and reduces the transfer of respiratory secretions from the user. Based on guidance from the CDC, AppHealthcare and Toe River Health departments, we know that surgical masks have proven to provide better protection for the user and those they encounter.

Employees may continue to wear fabric masks when reporting to work. However, all employees should obtain a hospital-approved surgical mask as soon as they reach their work area/department.


What is a level 3 surgical mask?

A surgical mask is a loose-fitting disposable mask that protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from contact droplets, splashes and sprays that may contain germs. A surgical mask also filters large particles in the air and may protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer.


How to request level 3 surgical masks for your department/staff?

Materials Management currently stocks level 3 masks in all inpatient and outpatient clinical areas and have sent supplies to non-clinical areas. If you need masks in your department, please contact Materials Management at 828-262-4159.


How long can I wear a level 3 surgical mask?

Based on our current supply of masks, we recommend that employees in use their level 3 surgical mask for multiple days as long as it remains clean. Employees should replace masks if they become visibly soiled and/or when the integrity of the mask has been torn, degraded or compromised.


May I purchase level 3 masks online?

ARHS cannot certify that masks purchased online are actually level 3 masks. Employees must utilize surgical masks obtained from Materials Management only.


Do I need to wear eye protection as well?

Anyone involved in direct patient care must wear appropriate PPE, including eye protection.
Staff interacting with patients/visitors from behind a plexiglass barrier are not required to wear eye protection.
Staff interacting with patients/visitors without a plexiglass barrier or through a slide window must wear eye protection.
Fact Sheet: Eye protection for COVID-19



Email Mike Rawls ( or Kathy Miller ( in Materials Management or call 828-262-4159.

Heroes Health Initiative – supporting YOU as you care for others

Heroes Health Initiative – supporting YOU as you care for others

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snowmanYou are doing so much for others, Heroes Health is to support you. ARHS employees can now join Heroes Health, an app-based intervention and research study for healthcare workers.

The UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health have launched the Heroes Health Initiative to help support the mental health of first responders and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Download the Heroes Health App to your mobile device through the App Store/Google Play Store.

Track your wellness through 5-minute surveys

Anonymously let ARHS Know how we’re doing

Access ARHS-specific mental health resources

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The COVID-19 crisis poses a threat to healthcare workers’ wellness, from front-line sanitation professionals to outpatient physicians. While the need for mental health care among these heroes is significant, barriers such as stigma, irregular work schedules, and a lack of knowledge regarding available resources lead many to suffer in silence.

By taking 5 minutes to complete weekly surveys, healthcare workers and first responders can track their own wellness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Heroes Health connects healthcare workers to vetted mental health resources and uses the power of collective data to support the development of new programs tailored to current needs.

When combined, these surveys paint a dynamic picture of the health and needs of the healthcare worker community, allowing for units, healthcare organizations, and policymakers to develop tailored solutions to support our heroes.

Learn more about the Heroes Health Initiative >

Second COVID Unit Opened – Do Not Enter

Watauga Medical Center has experienced a sustained increase in COVID inpatients during the last week. Leading indicators of COVID positive cases in our community tell us we should expect to see more positive patients requiring hospitalization in the coming weeks. To prepare for this patient surge, we will be opening a second COVID unit should our bed needs exceed SSU capacity.

We have opened a COVID unit on 3 East to provide an additional 6 bed COVID unit, bringing our overall isolation/negative pressure bed capacity to at least 12 beds. This unit is located in the previous Wound Care space on the 3rd floor (the hallway between Pain Clinic and OB).

This will be a closed unit with no pass through permitted. Since we now have patients in this COVID space, for employee safety all access to that hallway is strictly prohibited.

No staff should attempt to enter 3 East COVID unit or the OB overflow area unless they providing direct patient care in that area. If your department needs to provide nourishments, supplies or equipment to this CLOSED hallway, please do not enter this space and contact nursing personnel assigned to 3 East at extension #62405 to coordinate your services to these patients.

If you have questions or concerns about your route around this new unit, please speak with your supervisor.

Touchless Temperature Check Stations

Touchless Temperature Check Stations

ARHS began using a WelloStation temperature check system at the WMC basement entrance on August 6th.

Photo: Wello Temperature StationThe WelloStation self-serve, touchless clinical thermometer utilizes an infrared thermometer and provides verbal prompts to guide staff. The station cannot read temperatures with glasses or hats in place. Employees may also need to remove their mask as well.

The temperature threshold on the WelloStation has been set at 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • If an employee’s temperature is less than 100.0 degrees, the station will print a sticker. Employees must place the sticker in a visible location on their shirt/scrub top. Do not place the sticker on your ID badge.
  • If an employee’s temperature is 100.0 degrees or greater, the station will not print a sticker. Employees may not enter and must notify their manager immediately.

The plan is to place additional WelloStations at the WMC ED and CMH entrances in the coming weeks.

Reminder: All ARHS employees are expected to wear their own mask as they enter their work location. In the future, masks will no longer be available at the WMC basement entrance.


Photo: Wello Temperature Sticker

Hope4Healers Resource for Health Care Staff

Hope4Healers Resource for Health Care Staff

Do you or your family members need FREE emotional support from being on the COVID-19 front lines? NC licensed therapists are ready to listen!

Call (919) 226-2002

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Psychological Foundation have partnered to activate Hope4Healers hotline at (919) 226-2002, which provides free resilience and emotional support for North Carolinians working on the frontlines of the state’s COVID-19 response. This includes medical personnel, first responders, staff working in child care settings, and their families.

The Hope4Healers phone line is staffed 24/7 with trained personnel who can listen, offer support, and refer callers to additional resources, including free and confidential short-term therapeutic sessions with a licensed therapist that are focused on stress management and resilience building.

Additionally, ARHS Employee Assistance Program continues to be available for appointments via WebEx, telephone and email communication. Simply call an EAP counselor at (828) 263-0121 and schedule an appointment.

Click to see a wide range of resources from EAP that employees may find helpful >

Click to download or print the flyer >