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COVID-19 Vaccine

As we continue to fight COVID-19 in our community, the hope of a safe, effective vaccine is now here.

To receive a vaccine, please register through the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) registration tool.

Register Now with NMDOH

There are a number of vaccination sites across the state. Several Presbyterian clinic and hospital locations, including some in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Ruidoso and Socorro, are also providing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 12-17-year-olds.

We encourage everyone to get vaccinated as it is a key step in saving lives and ending the pandemic. We recognize this is a personal decision and that many people have questions about the vaccine. Here are some trusted resources to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety:

NMDOH COVID-19 vaccine information
CDC COVID-19 vaccine information

Thank you for doing your part.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

While we strongly encourage getting vaccinated, the decision whether to receive the vaccine is your choice. A conversation between you and your provider may help you make an informed decision about the vaccine.

When, where, and how can I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

You can register for the vaccine through the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) registration tool. You can then schedule your appointment at a convenient location.

Will I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine? How much will it cost?

You should not have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine if you choose to get it. The CARES Act passed by the U.S. Congress requires that the vaccine be administered with no cost share. This means that most patients and members should not have to pay copays or coinsurance for any of the vaccines. However, the CARES Act does not apply to some self-funded employer plans so you should check with your employer to be sure.

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?

COVID-19 vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses, so your body will be ready to fight the virus, if you are exposed (also called immunity). Your immune response can cause some symptoms or side effects, but this leads to immunity against the actual virus. There is no live COVID-19 virus in these vaccines and there is no way for the vaccine to give people COVID-19.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. mRNA vaccines have been studied for more than 20 years. This type of vaccine uses your body to briefly produce a viral protein to train your immune system in recognizing the COVID-19 virus.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. To make the vaccine, the company took a harmless cold virus and replaced a small piece of its genetic instructions with coronavirus genes. Scientists changed the virus so it can enter cells but cannot make people sick. The body’s immune system then fights off the pieces of coronavirus. This technology was used to create the Ebola vaccine.

For all three vaccines, your immune system can then fight off the virus and prevent the COVID-19 illness. All three vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). All three vaccines are effective in preventing hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19 in clinical trials.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

The FDA releases fact sheets and safety information of COVID-19 vaccines approved for Emergency Use Authorization. Visit the CDC and FDA websites for the most recent information about the vaccines approved for use. You can also read more about the vaccine on the New Mexico Department of Health website.

What are possible side effects of the vaccine?

You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may feel like flu and may even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Clinical studies of the vaccine did not show serious side effects, but if you get the vaccine you could experience:

  • Injection (shot) site reactions (like a sore arm)
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Fever*

*If you get a fever after receiving the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends talking to your doctor about taking an over the counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and dress in light layers to help you stay comfortable.

To help reduce any pain or discomfort where you got your shot, you can apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area. Moving or exercising your arm may also help.

Call your provider if:

  • The redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases or grows 24 hours after you got it.
  • Your side effects are worrying you or do not go away after a few days.
  • Your temperature is 100°F or higher.

Will my child or teen be able to get the vaccine?

Yes, children ages 12 and older are now able to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

  • Children ages 12 to 15 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or adult caregiver, who can also sign a consent form.
  • Children ages 16 and 17 may come for and receive a vaccine on their own, but must bring a consent form signed by their parent, guardian, or adult caregiver.

You can register and schedule your child for the vaccine through the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) site at

What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all eligible persons, including pregnant and lactating individuals, receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Here is information about COVID-19 vaccines and breastfeeding:

  • Experts believe that there is no reason to believe that any of the COVID-19 vaccines affect the safety of breast milk. There is no reason to stop breastfeeding if you get the vaccine.
  • We know that antibodies formed from other vaccines or from an infection do pass into the breast milk and then to the baby to help prevent those infections, and this is thought to also be true for the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals.

What should I expect after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may feel like flu and may even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.

Remember, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one shot but you will need two shots in order for the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to work. Make sure you get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first one, unless your healthcare provider tells you not to. The COVID-19 vaccine may not protect you until two weeks after your second shot.

  • The second Pfizer dose should be given approximately 21 days after the first dose.
  • The second Moderna dose should be given approximately 28 days after the first dose.

If a second dose is delayed beyond the recommended schedule, the second dose can be administered up to 42 days later, according to CDC’s released guidance

After I receive my vaccination, am I fully protected against COVID-19?

Not quite. You will need to wait two weeks for the vaccines to work. All three vaccines are very effective against severe COVID-19 cases, but no vaccine is 100% effective.

Even after you receive both doses of your vaccine, continue to cover your mouth and nose with a mask when you are in public places, stay at least six feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often. This gives you and others the best protection from catching the virus. See CDC guidance for vaccinated individuals here.