Frequently Asked Questions

Vaccine FAQ

Yes and no. Not just yet.

As announced by the state on January 6th, Phase 1B is eligible for vaccination, which now includes residents 65 of age and older - a change from 75 and older. However, at this time, the COVID vaccine is not yet available to this group in Saginaw County.

Front line healthcare workers and physician offices are still in the process of receiving their vaccine, and we anticipate it will be late January or early February before being ready to move on to the 1B group.

We want to move the community forward and get the vaccine out to all those wanting to receive it as quickly, and as safely, as possible, and will share more details as they become available. 

SCHD is currently working on a robust plan to distribute the vaccine, as well as how to communicate the plan to the community.  SCHD will be administering the vaccine, while pharmacies and hospitals may assist.  Cost will not be an obstacle to anyone receiving the vaccine.

Information is updated regularly on the SCHD website, and anyone can receive updates from SCHD by registering their email address.

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. The goal for each of them 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. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. This means it is possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

No. Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t 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, which is 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.

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection provided by the COVID-19 vaccines under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.  Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before changing recommendations on steps people need to take that slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Getting a COVID-19 vaccine together with following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.

For more information, visit considerations for wearing masks.

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they had COVID-19 before.

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 to COVID-19 may not last very long. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

We are working closely with the major healthcare players in the county, including Ascension St. Mary's, Covenant Healthcare, Great Lakes Bay Health Centers, and the Saginaw Veterans Administration hospital to reach as many people as quickly and as safely as possible. 

These partners are receiving allocations of the vaccine and are working closely with SCHD to work through our master list of those businesses and individuals who have registered through our website to reserve their dose.

We do anticipate this to be a method of distribution in the future as more providers get registered to receive allocated doses of the vaccine.

As vaccine doses become available throughout the community, our partners will notify the Health Department that they are able to accommodate a specified number of individuals for a certain date and time. The Health Department will then distribute contact information for the specified number of individuals being tracked in our master list of those registered through our website. 

This means that you may receive your vaccine through a St. Mary's sponsored clinic, or Covenant, or even the Health Department itself as we work through this list as doses become available. 

You may receive a text message, email, or phone call when we are ready to schedule you, depending on contact information provided in your registration. When you are contacted, you will receive a time block on a specified date in which you will be able to show up to have your vaccination.

We are working with our healthcare partners to identify multiple sites throughout the county to reach as many people as possible and make it as easy as possible for you to have access to the vaccine. This means traveling to our residents on the outskirts as well as those in the city. You are all important to us and we WILL be having clinics throughout the county, both mobile and drive-thru, to reach all individuals who want to be vaccinated.

We recognize that some or our residents, especially those in the 65 and older population, either cannot drive or do not always have someone available to bring them to a clinic. 

We are working through plans with STARS to bring access to these clinics through their Rides to Wellness program to reduce some transportation barriers.

For those that are truly homebound, we are working through plans to utilize our mobile bus, as well as other ways to bring US to YOU. If you know of someone in this category, please reach out to us at so that we may work through additional accommodations as we move through these phases.

We are asking you NOT to register at multiple places, because registering effectively "holds" your dose for YOU! What this means is that you may be keeping some other individual from getting their dose. We understand the anxiety of wanting to get your vaccine, but we are asking you to trust the process. We WILL be with you very, very soon.

SurveyMonkey, the mechanism we are using to collect registrations, is not set up to automatically generate an email confirmation. If you submitted the form and made it to the screen below, your registration has been received. Due to the sheer volume of registrations received, we are not able to confirm your registration by other means at this time. Please do not be alarmed if you do not hear from someone and it has been some time since you submitted your registration. We are working our way through a very large list and WILL be in contact when we have a dose available for you!

When you receive your first dose, you will receive a card that gives you information regarding the manufacturer, the date of your vaccination, and where it was received. Some clinics will schedule you for your second dose before you leave after receiving your first dose. If they do not, they will give you directions on how to arrange that. You may not receive your second dose from the same clinic, and that is okay. It is very important, however, that you receive the same manufacturer in the allotted time period after the first - 21 days after the Pfizer or 28 for the Moderna. 

There is a timeframe of 7-8 weeks where the only vaccine you should receive is the COVID-19 vaccine.  You can't receive another vaccine 14 days before the 1st vaccine dose, in between the two doses, and 14 days after the 2nd dose.

You can absolutely get your first dose here and be vaccinated elsewhere for your second (or vice versa - vaccinated elsewhere for your first and needing the second here).

We would, however, encourage you to reach out to the county or state to which you will be staying and ensuring that you will have access available when your next dose will be due before receiving your first. As other counties and states are also working through these priority groups, there will be differences in the paces at which things progress given interest level and doses available.

Remember, it is very important that you receive the same manufacturer vaccine in the specified time period - 21 days after the first if you receive Pfizer, 28 days if you receive Moderna.

Also, while Michigan is now including those 65 years and older in the next phase of vaccinations, national guidance states that the 1B group is 75 years+, so some states may vary in availability if you are in the 65-74 year age group.

Yes. The mRNA vaccines are especially safe: among the tens of thousands of people enrolled in the Phase III mRNA-Vaccine Clinical Trials, none have experienced severe adverse reactions. This is unheard of for vaccine clinical trials.

Vaccines are traditionally developed from one of several methods: (1) “live-attenuated” virus, made from virus that has been altered to decrease its virulence (harmful, infectious potential); (2) killed virus; (3) purified portions of virus, such as surface proteins.  The mRNA vaccine contains none of those components, only the “message” used for our cells to produce a single protein to stimulate our immune system. These mRNA vaccines are the safest in vaccine history to date.

Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.

Unfortunately, there is very limited data on the vaccine at this point. SCHD is awaiting that information and will provide it when it becomes available.

No. 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 are 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.

Unfortunately, there is very limited data on the vaccine at this point. SCHD is awaiting that information and will provide it when it becomes available.

Thousands of people. Vaccines aren’t able to move to the next phase until they meet those specific numbers that include different age groups as well as people who fall in different races and ethnicities, so that they meet the demographics of what the United States looks like.

For Residents and Communities

Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. They include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 most commonly spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet, or 2 arm lengths).
  • It spreads through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.
    • These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection. This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
    • Droplets can also land on surfaces and objects and be transferred by touch. A person may get COVID-19 by touching the surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
  • It is possible that COVID-19 may spread through the droplets and airborne particles that are formed when a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes). In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk.

COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

If you are traveling domestically or overseas, follow the CDC's guidance at

There are steps you can take to prevent the spread of flu and the common cold that will also prevent COVID-19, including:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are sick and contact your healthcare provider

Recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.

In light of new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Maintaining 6-feet minimum social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of COVID-19. CDC also advises use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and to help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The cloth face coverings recommended to slow spread of COVID-19 are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those critical supplies must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

All questions related to test results should be directed to the physician who ordered the test. 

Older individuals and persons with pre-existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, or diabetes appear to develop serious illness more often than others. 

The risk also increases depending on where you are - and more specifically - whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak unfolding there. Follow restrictions on gatherings, practice social distancing recommendations where possible, clean surfaces around you and in your home frequently, and practice proper hand washing procedures frequently to limit your risk. 

Create a household emergency plan of action and follow all hygiene recommendations. Find more information at CDC's "Get Your Household Ready" Guide, here.

The State of Michigan has created a statewide hotline for residents to call. The hotline is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136.

We also have staff here at SCHD ready to help you. Please call our designated COVID-19 hotline Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 989-758-3828 and we will provide guidance or direct your call as appropriate. 

Yes, you are still considered a close contact even if you were wearing a mask while you were around someone with COVID-19. Masks are meant to protect other people in case you are infected, and not to protect you from becoming infected.

People with COVID-19 can still spread the virus even if they don’t have any symptoms. If you were around someone who had COVID-19, it is critical that you stay home and away from others for 14 days from the last day that you were around that person. Staying home and away from others at all times helps your health department in the fight against COVID-19 and helps protect you, your family, and your community. The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay home for 14 days if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.