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Spring Semester - COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Updated March 8, 2021 | 8:00 a.m.


Yes. COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19.

Being protected from getting sick is important because even though many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness, have long-term health effects or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you don’t have an increased risk of developing severe complications.

All the COVID-19 vaccines being used in the United States have gone through rigorous studies to ensure they are as safe as possible. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines that have been shown to meet rigorous safety criteria and be effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials. Clinical trials for all vaccines must first show they meet rigorous criteria for safety and effectiveness before any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can be authorized or approved for use.

At this point, there is no requirement to receive the vaccine for members of the UW community, although vaccinations are strongly encouraged. Employees’ job status and students’ academic status will not be at risk if they decide against receiving the vaccine.

UW is working with Albany County Public Health and Ivinson Memorial Hospital to administer vaccines to county residents under Phase 2 of the Wyoming Department of Health guidelines, meaning all county residents age 16 and up can schedule vaccination appointments. That includes all UW students. Under Phase 2, the vaccination program and other local providers are administering the Pfizer (age 16 and up), Moderna (age 18 and up) and Johnson & Johnson (age 18 and up) vaccines by appointment.

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.

There are several different types of vaccines in development. All of them 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 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.

Serious problems from vaccination can happen, but they are rare. There have been reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions -- also known as anaphylaxis -- after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. As an example, an allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen or if they must go to the hospital. In Albany County, the most severe reactions have involved people developing hives.

People with underlying medical conditions can receive the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines provided they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. 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 the virus that causes COVID-19.

No. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.​

If your body develops an immune response -- the goal of vaccination -- there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

UW’s surveillance testing program does not use an antibody test.

Yes, all UW employees and students spending time on campus who receive the vaccine are still required to participate in the university’s surveillance testing program. That’s because, while the COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be highly effective in preventing illness in recipients, it’s not known if those who receive the vaccine can still transmit the virus to others. And the vaccine will not cause recipients to test positive in UW’s testing program.

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection.

At this time, experts 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 won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about.

The currently authorized vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States require two shots to get the most protection. Pfizer-BioNTech doses should be given three weeks (21 days) apart; Moderna doses should be given one month (28 days) apart. You should get your second shot as close to the recommended three-week or one-month interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

Additional COVID-19 vaccines are in Phase 3 clinical trials.

Wait at least 14 days before getting any other vaccine, including a flu or shingles vaccine, if you get your COVID-19 vaccine first. And if you get another vaccine first, wait at least 14 days before getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

If a COVID-19 vaccine is inadvertently given within 14 days of another vaccine, you do not need to restart the COVID-19 vaccine series; you should still complete the series on schedule.

Emergency leave with pay will be approved for UW employees to use due to a negative reaction to the administration of a COVID vaccine.

Other FAQs

In this time of uncertainty, we’re dedicated to helping answer your questions based on the latest information regarding the COVID-19 (novel coronavrius) pandemic.


>> COVID-19 FAQs

Additional Health Information

UW’s interdepartmental task force is diligently monitoring events worldwide to try and anticipate and prepare for potential changes. Here are some essential resources for global travel alerts and warnings to visit before you travel abroad:



Contact Info

Contact UW’s COVID-19 Response Team by calling  (307) 766-COVD (2683) or emailing
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