COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

To support our community, Brown is providing regular updates to questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination requirements.

The University has announced that Brown will require the COVID-19 vaccine for all members of the campus community. The following is a list of frequently asked questions for faculty, staff and students, which continues to be updated as additional information becomes available.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Employees

Starting July 1, 2021, and for the entirety of Fiscal Year 2022 (July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022), Brown will require COVID-19 vaccines for all employees (faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, visiting researchers, lecturers, and seasonal and intermittent staff, full- and part-time) working at any Brown owned, leased or managed premises and/or engaging in any in-person work with other Brown employees, students or visitors.

COVID-19 vaccines have been demonstrated to be safe and effective in developing an immune response to the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Overwhelming evidence suggests that vaccinated people are far less likely to spread the virus to others. Developing immunity through vaccination means there is a reduced risk of developing the illness and its consequences. This immunity helps you fight the virus if exposed.

Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, because if you are protected from getting infected and from disease, you are less likely to infect someone else. This is particularly important to protect people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including individuals who are immunocompromised and for whom the vaccine does not offer full protection. Given the medical and community benefit of COVID-19 vaccinations, Brown determined – based on the best available scientific and medical guidance – that requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most effective way to ensure individual and community health. Requiring all members of the Brown community to be vaccinated additionally enables the University community to return more quickly to normal operations in support of its mission of teaching and research.

Medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement will be granted and reasonable accommodations provided under applicable law. Employees who are not vaccinated and do not qualify for a medical or religious exemption will have their status reviewed and acted on by the Office of the Provost (for faculty and postdoctoral scholars) and University Human Resources (for staff).  In some cases, the requirements of a position do not allow for an unvaccinated person to safely perform their job duties with a reasonable accommodation.  

Therefore, if an employee is not vaccinated, does not qualify for a medical or religious exemption or the position does not allow for an unvaccinated person to safely perform their job duties and no opportunities for a transfer to another open position exist, the following options are available:

  • be placed on leave without pay;

  • apply for leave under FMLA (the Family and Medical Leave Act), or

  • may take paid time off.

The refusal to get vaccinated for an employee who is not eligible for a medical or religious exemption will not be a valid basis for approval to work remotely as an Alternative Work Assignment (AWA). NOTE: Working remotely may constitute a reasonable accommodation under a medical or religious exemption.

All regular employees – faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, visiting researchers, lecturers, seasonal and intermittent staff, full- and part-time – are required to receive their final dose no later than July 1, 2021, or by their first day of work in the case of employees hired during the course of Fiscal Year 2022, unless they are approved for a medical or religious exemption.

COVID-19 vaccines are readily available to anyone who lives, works or studies in Rhode Island. In order to comply with the vaccination requirement by July 1, 2021, current employees should receive their first dose (of a two-dose vaccine, Moderna or Pfizer) no later than May 31, 2021, and their second dose the prescribed number of days later. Individuals who receive a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) should do so no later than July 1, 2021.

Once you have received your final vaccine dose, you are required to upload your completed vaccination card directly to Workday (click on this link for detailed instructions) or email a pdf or jpeg to [email protected]. If submitting via email, please use Virtru to email it securely. All vaccination records will be stored confidentially in Workday and can be loaded via the Vaccine Management link in the Benefits app on your Workday landing page.

Eligible employees who have submitted proof of COVID-19 vaccination in Workday can earn $50 toward 2021 Wellness Rewards. Wellness Rewards is the voluntary wellness incentive program designed to help faculty and staff maintain and improve their overall well-being. Additionally, for those needing sick time to support their vaccine recovery, Brown will credit up to two sick days as needed (up to 1 per each vaccination day). Credit for time off will be updated once per month upon updating your vaccine status in Workday.

Once you have fully received any COVID-19 vaccine (14 days after your final dose), if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or travel to Rhode Island from out-of-state, you do not need to quarantine if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • you received, at least 14 days before your last exposure or out-of-state travel, a final vaccine dose that is either FDA-approved or received an Emergency Use Authorization, or for which the World Health Organization has issued an Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL);
  • it has been less than 90 days since your final vaccine dose; and
  • you haven’t had symptoms of COVID-19 since your last exposure or out-of-state travel.

Later this summer, if public health conditions continue to improve, employees who have been fully vaccinated (14 days after their final dose) and uploaded their vaccination card to Workday will start to be removed from the University’s COVID-19 routine testing program. Students who are fully vaccinated will continue to be subject to mandatory testing through the summer term given their congregate living situations, but if public health conditions continue to improve, there will be no medical or public health need for fully vaccinated employees to continue to be subject to routine asymptomatic testing.

Employees who wish to request an exemption on religious or medical grounds will be directed to the appropriate request form in Workday or provided with instructions to contact a University Human Resources (UHR) representative. Requests for medical exemptions will be reviewed by a panel of physicians. Requests for religious exemptions will be reviewed by UHR in consultation, as necessary, with the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. All decisions regarding requests for exemptions shall be final.

All information regarding requests for and granting of exemptions, including the grounds for an exemption, will be kept confidential by UHR. Supervisors may not ask employees for information regarding individual vaccination and/or exemption status and should refer any concerns, questions or requests for clarification regarding exemptions and accommodations, if any, to the appropriate UHR partner for their area of responsibility. Supervisors will receive information and training from UHR regarding how to protect confidentiality and support employees who receive an exemption (religious or medical) and may need, for example, to wear a mask at all times and take other mitigation measures.

Three COVID-19 vaccinations have been granted Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Documentation of any of the three will be acceptable for employees to fully satisfy the COVID-19 vaccination requirement. In addition, for those who may be receiving vaccinations outside of the U.S., the University will accept documentation of COVID-19 vaccines for which the World Health Organization has issued an Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL).

Pursuant to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals who have received a WHO EUL vaccine do not need to receive additional doses with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals who are partially vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine series of doses authorized for emergency use by WHO may be offered an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series of one or two doses (after at least 28 days have passed since their last vaccine dose). Individuals who completed or partially completed a COVID-19 vaccine series with a vaccine that is not authorized by FDA or not authorized for emergency use by WHO may be offered an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine (at least 28 days after their last dose).

All requests for hybrid/remote work go through the University’s established Alternative Work Assignment (AWA) process. Absence of or refusal to get a vaccination is not a valid criterion in and of itself to be considered for an AWA. Any employee — staff or faculty —will need to either go through the formal exemption process or provide a vaccination record.

The requirement to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be in effect through the entirety, at least, of Fiscal Year 2022 — July 1, 2021, through at least June 30, 2022. Employees who begin work during the course of the year will be subject to the requirement beginning on their first day of work. Job postings will include information on the employee vaccination requirement/exemption process and whether the position is eligible for hybrid/remote work. If the newly hired employee is in the process of getting vaccinated, they will need to follow relevant health protocols until fully vaccinated.

The University will continue to monitor the developments regarding the need for and recommended use of booster vaccinations for COVID-19 and follow guidance from the CDC and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and best medical practice when available. When and if boosters become available and recommended, the University will communicate at that time whether they are required or not.

For those employees who have participated in a vaccine trial please follow the process for a medical exemption. Your physician will need to submit the medical certification and check the box for "Other".  Please have your health care provider include the name of the trial vaccine, the trial site and lead investigator, and confirmation that you have been completely vaccinated.  

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Students

Starting no later than the Fall 2021 semester, Brown will require COVID-19 vaccines for all students who will be on campus or engage in any level of in-person instruction, whether in the U.S. or abroad.In addition, we are also requiring all Brown students who are engaged in on-campus activities (education, jobs, research, or engaging in any in-person education or work with other Brown employees, students, or visitors) this summer to receive the final dose of their COVID-19 vaccine by July 1, 2021. Given the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in Rhode Island, this is an acceleration of the timeline communicated in April that called for all students to be vaccinated by the fall semester. The earlier July 1 deadline is now achievable for students who are engaged in on-campus activities this summer. Medical and religious exemptions will be granted, and reasonable accommodations provided under applicable law.

COVID-19 vaccines have been demonstrated to be safe and effective in developing an immune response to the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Overwhelming evidence suggests that vaccinated people are far less likely to spread the virus to others. Developing immunity through vaccination means there is a reduced risk of developing the illness and its consequences. This immunity helps you fight the virus if exposed.

Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, because if you are protected from getting infected and from disease, you are less likely to infect someone else. This is particularly important to protect people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including individuals who are immunocompromised and for whom the vaccine does not offer full protection. Given the medical and community benefit of COVID-19 vaccinations, Brown determined – based on the best available scientific and medical guidance – that requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most effective way to ensure individual and community health. Requiring all members of the Brown community to be vaccinated additionally enables the University community to return more quickly to normal operations in support of its mission of teaching and research.

Medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement will be granted and reasonable accommodations provided under applicable law. Students who are not vaccinated and do not qualify for a medical or religious exemption will be required to study remotely without permission to access campus. Further information regarding the implementation of this requirement, including the process for providing vaccination documentation and requesting exemptions, will be provided to students from University Health Services.

COVID-19 vaccines are readily available to anyone who lives, works or studies in Rhode Island. In order to comply with the vaccination requirement by July 1, 2021, students who are engaged in on-campus activities (education, jobs or research) this summer should receive their first dose (of a two-dose vaccine, Moderna or Pfizer) no later than May 31, 2021, and their second dose the prescribed number of days later. Individuals who receive a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) should do so no later than July 1, 2021.

Students can upload their vaccination cards directly to the Health & Wellness Patient Portal at: https://patientportal.brown.edu/. We recommend you access the patient portal via desktop as it will allow for an easier upload than mobile. Detailed instructions are available through the Verify Your Vaccination page on this Healthy Brown website.

Once you have fully received any COVID-19 vaccine (14 days after your final dose), if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or travel to Rhode Island from out of state, you do not need to quarantine if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • you received, at least 14 days before your last exposure or out-of-state travel, a final vaccine dose that is either FDA-approved or received an Emergency Use Authorization, or for which the World Health Organization has issued an Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL);
  • it has been less than 90 days since your final vaccine dose; and
  • you haven’t had symptoms of COVID-19 since your last exposure or out-of-state travel.

Three COVID-19 vaccinations have been granted Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Documentation of any of the three will be acceptable for students to fully satisfy the COVID-19 vaccination requirement. In addition, for those who may be receiving vaccinations outside of the U.S., the University will accept documentation of COVID-19 vaccines for which the World Health Organization has issued an Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL).

Pursuant to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who have received a WHO EUL vaccine do not need to receive additional doses with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals who are partially vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine series of doses authorized for emergency use by WHO may be offered an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series of one or two doses (after at least 28 days have passed since their last vaccine dose). Individuals who completed or partially completed a COVID-19 vaccine series with a vaccine that is not authorized by FDA or not authorized for emergency use by WHO may be offered an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series (at least 28 days after their last dose).

The University will continue to monitor the developments regarding the need for and recommended use of booster vaccinations for COVID-19 and follow guidance from the CDC and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and best medical practice when available. When and if boosters become available and recommended, the University will communicate at that time whether they are required or not.

General Questions about COVID-19 Vaccines

Currently, three COVID-19 vaccines — one made by Pfizer-BioNTech, one by Moderna, and one by Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson — have been authorized for emergency use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses and have been shown to be 95% effective in preventing symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and in preventing severe disease. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine that has been shown to be 85% effective in preventing severe or critical COVID-19 disease 28 days after vaccination. In clinical trials, it was 100% effective at preventing death. The vaccines are authorized for individuals age 12 and older (Pfizer) and age 18 and older (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson). None of the vaccines carries live coronavirus. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

The FDA-approved vaccines have been shown to be 85% to 95% effective in preventing symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and in preventing severe disease. Both the Pfizer and Moderna have been shown to be 95% effective in preventing symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and in preventing severe disease. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown to be 85% effective in preventing severe or critical COVID-19 disease 28 days after vaccination. The wider and faster the vaccine is distributed and utilized in the Providence and Rhode Island communities, the sooner more normal operations will return to the Brown University campus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Dec. 11, 2020, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Dec. 18, 2020, and Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Feb. 27, 2021. People can follow the progress of different vaccines at various vaccine tracker sites and applications, like the New York Times Coronavirus Tracker or BioPharma.

Which vaccine is administered will depend largely on availability and distribution? Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose 21 days after the first dose and the Moderna vaccine requires a second dose 28 days after the first dose. For both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the first dose is the same as the second dose in terms of amount and its composition. Although the vaccines are equally effective, they are not interchangeable. It is important to have both doses be administered from the same type of vaccine.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine made with a modification of the common cold virus. It has been shown to be 85% effective in preventing severe or critical COVID-19 disease 28 days after vaccination. In clinical trials, it was 100% effective at preventing death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and RIDOH have resumed the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a pause from April 13 to April 26, 2021, to examine a blood clotting concern in a small number of recipients. The CDC has shared that “as of April 13, 2021, of the more than 180 million doses administered so far of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, no reports matching those associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been received.” All clotting incidents reported from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine occurred in women ages 18 to 48, and the symptoms occurred between six to 13 days after receiving the vaccination.

According to the CDC, there are multiple COVID-19 variants circulating around the world. Several new variants emerged in the fall of 2020 — most notably, separate variants of SARS-CoV-2 first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. Scientists don’t know yet whether the approved COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the variants. Researchers are working hard to understand how widely these variants have spread and how these variants will react to existing treatments and vaccines. It seems that these variants spread more easily and quickly. We do not know for sure that they cause more severe illness or increased risk of death. But an increase in the number of cases can strain health care resources. For this reason, we must continue to practice measures like wearing masks, washing our hands and watching our distance. The emergence of variants is yet another reason that everyone should be vaccinated as soon as they become eligible. If the virus cannot reproduce itself in infected people, it is less likely to mutate into new variants.

No. Vaccines do not cause disease. However, vaccines can cause your immune system to respond. This is a sign that the vaccine — and your body’s immune system — is working. Based on information released about the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, recipients are expected to have symptoms after vaccination. People may feel some soreness at the site of injection, some aches and fatigue. These symptoms may be more noticeable than those that occur with a flu vaccine. This is completely normal and will clear up in a few days.

Safety is a top priority. COVID-19 vaccines have been tested in large clinical trials with thousands of people of different ages, races, ethnicities and underlying medical conditions to make sure they are safe. No steps involving safety have been skipped — COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same standards as other vaccines to make sure they are safe. To ensure the safety of vaccines in the United States, there is a rigorous vaccine development and approval process. Following approval of a vaccine, there are several systems in place to continue to ensure safety.

After a vaccine is approved and distributed, vaccine monitoring systems are used to watch for possible side effects. If an unexpected side effect is seen, experts study it to determine whether changes are needed in vaccine recommendations. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national vaccine safety surveillance program of the FDA and the CDC. VAERS collects and analyzes information from reports of adverse events (e.g., side effects) that occur after a vaccine has been approved and distributed. Anyone can submit a report to VAERS by going to this link: https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.

The COVID-19 vaccines have been approved through a process called an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). This is an authority that allows the FDA to make certain medical products (e.g., vaccines, treatments) available during public health emergencies. The FDA released guidance for vaccine manufacturers considering requests for an EUA. This guidance explains the criteria that need to be met before any vaccine for COVID-19 will receive an EUA. To meet criteria, the vaccine’s potential and known benefits must outweigh the potential and known risks. In addition, the vaccine must be at least 50% effective and must meet certain safety standards among a sufficiently large group of volunteers.

You must continue to participate in testing even after being vaccinated. At this time, it is unknown how well vaccines prevent asymptomatic infection. In addition, vaccines are not always 100% effective. Finally, the duration of immunity after vaccination is also unknown. For these reasons, it is important to continue to participate in routine COVID-19 testing programs at present.

Brown’s Plans for Vaccinations

Distribution of the vaccine in the United States is currently controlled and managed by federal and state agencies. Effective Monday, May 10, 2021, all individuals 12 years of age and older who live, work or study in Rhode Island are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and with no requirement for insurance, and it is widely and readily available. The University is making information regarding how to get the COVID-19 vaccine widely available, facilitating transportation to vaccination sites, and offering on-campus clinics when vaccine is made available to Brown by the State of Rhode Island.

To date, University records show that growing numbers of community members are getting vaccinated as the vaccine has become more widely accessible to anyone over age 12.

While receiving the vaccine is an important public health measure, it does not yet replace the essentials of mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing, staying home when sick and frequent COVID-19 testing. We are aware of the continuing updates to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding mask wearing and other health and safety measures for individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. We are actively reviewing that guidance and working on what it means for the Brown community. For now, however, the University’s COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy remains in full effect, including mask wearing requirements on campus. When we are ready to update the campus safety policy, we will communicate that information broadly to the community. The wider and faster the vaccine is distributed and utilized in the Providence and Rhode Island communities, the sooner more normal operations will return to the Brown campus.

Consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Rhode Island Department of Health, once you have received any COVID-19 vaccine, you do not need to quarantine if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • you received, at least 14 days before your last exposure or out-of-state travel, a final vaccine dose that is either FDA-approved or received an Emergency Use Authorization;
  • it has been less than 90 days since your final vaccine dose; and
  • you haven’t had symptoms of COVID-19 since your last exposure or out-of-state travel.

Always watch for symptoms for a full 14 days. Vaccinated close contacts and travelers should still get a COVID-19 test between 5 and 10 days after their last exposure or out-of-state travel.

More information from RIDOH about quarantine and isolation criteria can be found at: https://covid.ri.gov/covid-19-prevention/quarantine-and-isolation.

At this point, all events and in-person socializing and activities are guided by the University’s current Campus Activity Status. For the small number of in-person events that are currently permitted, participants are not required to present proof of vaccination at the event itself — however, events must be held in compliance with Campus Activity Status requirements, and all students and employees are required to be vaccinated and to verify their vaccination through the processes detailed on the Verify Your Vaccination page.

Vaccination Eligibility and Access

In Rhode Island, eligibility for the vaccine has been determined by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). Over time, the state has been releasing a timeline for vaccinations in Rhode Island, indicating when residents are eligible to receive the vaccine. Effective Monday, May 10, 2021, all individuals 12 years of age and older who live, work or study in Rhode Island are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and with no requirement for insurance.

Individual states establish the timelines for eligible populations, and Massachusetts residents can learn more about their state’s plans on the Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Information website, while those living in Connecticut can visit the Connecticut COVID-19 Response website for vaccination information.

Effective Monday, May 10, 2021, all individuals 12 years of age and older who live, work or study in Rhode Island are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and with no requirement for insurance. Massachusetts residents can learn more about their state’s plans on the Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Information website, while those living in Connecticut can visit the Connecticut COVID-19 Response website for vaccination information.

The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States. International students are encouraged to get the vaccine if and when they become eligible per the phased prioritization systems managed by each state.

Effective Monday, May 10, 2021, all individuals 12 years of age and older who live, work or study in Rhode Island are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and with no requirement for insurance. Massachusetts residents can learn more about their state’s plans on the Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Information website, while those living in Connecticut can visit the Connecticut COVID-19 Response website for vaccination information. When you do receive the vaccine, you will receive a vaccination card. It is important to upload the card to verify your vaccination as part of the University’s requirements for vaccination, and hold on to the vaccination documentation you are provided for future reference.

Vaccine Health and Safety

COVID-19 vaccines do not cause COVID-19 infection. However, they are expected to cause your immune system to respond. This is a sign that the vaccine — and your body’s immune system — is working and will fight the virus if you are exposed to it. Based on information released about the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, we expect people to have some symptoms after vaccination. People may feel some soreness at the injection site, body aches, and/or fatigue. These symptoms may be more noticeable than those that occur with a flu vaccine. This is completely normal and will clear up in a few days.

It is recommended that vaccine recipients do not take pain relief medication prior to vaccination, as it may decrease antibody response to the first dose of vaccine and lower its efficacy. However, studies on taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen to manage side effects after vaccination showed that the three FDA-approved vaccines still have a high efficacy rate: 95% for Pfizer-BioNTech, 94.1% for Moderna and 85% for Johnson & Johnson.

The exact degree and duration of immunity after receiving an mRNA vaccine is currently unknown. There is no lab test to determine if you are immune and protected. However, according to CDC guidelines, should you be exposed to a case of COVID-19 at least 14 days after receiving the second dose of the vaccine, you do not need to quarantine. Nonetheless, it is important to monitor yourself for symptoms. Studies of the COVID-19 vaccines have only measured whether vaccinated people developed symptoms, not whether they got infected. You can become infected with the coronavirus and be asymptomatic (i.e., have no symptoms). Asymptomatic people can still spread COVID-19 to others. We believe that the vaccine reduces the risk of asymptomatic infections and there’s still the possibility that a vaccinated person could transmit the virus without knowing it. It is therefore important to continue taking precautions such as wearing your mask in some settings after being vaccinated. This will be especially true until we have more information about how much and how long these vaccines offer protection against infection and transmission.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, people with a history of severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to other vaccines (i.e., not Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines) or to an injectable medication should review their risks with a primary care provider. Depending on that assessment, they can be vaccinated. After vaccination, people who have no history of severe allergic reactions are asked to wait for 15 minutes at the vaccination site to be observed for potential side effects. People with a history of severe allergic reactions should be prepared for a 30-minute observation period. Individuals with a history of other allergies (e.g., to food, pets, insects, environmental allergies) or a family history of anaphylaxis should still be vaccinated. People with a history of severe allergic reactions (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any component of the COVID-19 vaccines should not be vaccinated.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose 21 days after the first dose, and the Moderna vaccine requires a second dose 28 days after the first dose. For both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the first dose is the same as the second dose in terms of amount and its composition. The vaccines are not interchangeable. When you begin a vaccine series with one type of vaccine, the second vaccine must be of the same type.

Updated guidance from the CDC states that the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on the efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. Despite the absence of efficacy data, if an unavoidable delay occurs, the second dose may be administered beyond the six-week window without restarting the series.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine.

The current Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or with other COVID-19 vaccine products. The safety and efficacy of mixing these vaccines has not been evaluated. Per the CDC, in exceptional situations in which the first-dose vaccine product cannot be determined or is no longer available, any mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at a minimum of 28 days between doses.

There is no reason to avoid vaccination if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past. This is especially true if your positive test was more than three months before your first dose of vaccine. While there is no minimum interval that is required between a positive test and vaccination, studies have shown that the vast majority of people have natural immunity for three months after infection. Therefore, vaccination is not as critical during that time. We understand that obtaining a vaccine even after testing positive for COVID-19 strengthens and lengthens the immune response that you develop.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women can be vaccinated if they choose, after they have had the opportunity to discuss risks and benefits with their healthcare providers.

These are among the resources from the CDC and Rhode Island Department of Health accessible online:

Last updated May 20, 2021. Information on this page may be updated as the University’s planning evolves and/or public health guidance prompts a shift in Brown’s operations and protocols.