Frequently Asked Questions

Vaccine FAQ

We need to reach out to our 12-54 years olds to get better vaccine coverage! As you can see, only 1% of those eligible under 16 years of age and only 20-40% of those 12-54 are currently vaccinated with at least one dose. Based on the data, COVID-19 will likely become a disease among those of school and work age.

Possibly. But just look at the data for our our older populations. These are the groups that were hit hard by COVID-19 initially. Now, with vaccination coverage rates at 85%, these folks are seeing tremendous declines in cases.

There’s no doubt the vaccine is saving lives.

We believe the unvaccinated fall into a couple of different groups. Some people will never get the vaccine, and we understand that. Vaccination is voluntary. 

But others still may. We acknowledge there are people who didn't want to be bothered with all the chaos and quest to find the vaccine when it was scarce. They were willing to patiently wait. Now, they simply haven’t gotten around to it.

Another group may be people who were sick with COVID-19 and are riding out their natural immunity. 

We want these groups in particular to know that many of our major vaccine providers are closing down their big walk-in clinics, moving instead to offering the vaccine in physician offices or urgent care settings -- where folks may have to schedule appointments and may be subject to copays for office visits.

Make no mistake, the health department is a huge fan of the physician/patient relationship and the value of people having a personal conversation with their doctor about the benefits of vaccination. It’s priceless. But for those who are convenience minded…now is the time for easy, in-and-out vaccination if they KNOW they want the shot.

Saginaw County vaccine providers have worked tirelessly to offer the vaccine in every nook and cranny of this county to make it accessible to everyone. We’re had STARS offering free transportation to clinics. Early on, we had the Council on Aging helping to register and schedule seniors. We continue to partner with neighborhood churches and community organizations.

So far, our vaccination rates are good — fairly consistent with our population representation. The one big question is who designates themselves as “other?” The state and the county continue to refine our data collection process and offer complete transparency in what data we have. Can we alway do better? Absolutely! Are we working to build vaccine confidence in communities where there is still hesitancy? Yes we are! The health department will never stop working to ensure health access and equity.

At this time, no. We have carefully watched how incentives are being used in other communities and are instead focusing on building vaccine confidence and offering our community as many opportunities as we can to ask questions and get thoughtful, honest answers about the vaccine from trusted sources. We don’t want to bribe people. We would rather have them learn about the risks and benefits and make informed choices for themselves and the good of the community.

Every Michigander over the age of 12 is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

We have moved away from utilizing online registrations. Individuals can now simply walk-in to an open COVID vaccine clinic and be serviced immediately. 

Cost will not be an obstacle to anyone receiving the vaccine. The Saginaw County Health Department does not bill insurance for the vaccine or its administration, and we will never ask you for this information.

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. We are also very grateful to have the help of pharmacies and individual provider offices as well

Yes, many pharmacies are registering and vaccinating individuals. Please keep in mind that these programs are independent of the Health Department. We do not have access to their registration lists or have the ability to schedule you with one of their clinics. If you received your first dose at a pharmacy, please contact them for questions or concerns.

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 have and will continue to have 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.