Disability Vaccine Access Hotline

Call 1-800-787-6046 to talk to someone about COVID-19 and your vaccine plan.

Protect your community.

Secure your shot.

We all play a part in protecting our communities from getting sick with COVID-19 and helping to stop the spread of the disease. Misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine and barriers to vaccine access are common in South Carolina. We want to take action.

About Us

The SC Disability Vaccine Access Network was created to educate individuals in the disability community about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine, provide help to overcome barriers to getting vaccinated, and to help those who want to get vaccinated to get the shot.

Learn the Facts

1 in 3 South Carolinians has a disability. People with disabilities are at high risk of severe sickness and potential death from COVID-19. It is important that people with disabilities get vaccinated, but you may be worried about the vaccine. We are here to help you learn more to make the best decision about vaccination.

Did You Know?

People with disabilities are considered a high-risk group for severe sickness and death caused by COVID-19. 1 in 3 South Carolinians has a disability. Lack of access to healthcare is the biggest barrier people with disabilities face when seeking COVID-19 prevention, treatment, and education.

In a survey done by the American Association on Health and Disability, 27%  of adults with disabilities said they would not be vaccinated or were unsure, based on vaccine hesitancy.

People who rely on direct care providers are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. It is critical that direct care providers, teachers, and other caregivers for people with disabilities receive their COVID-19 vaccination to protect this at-risk population.

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions from People with Disabilities

Are you nervous about COVID-19? Here are the facts about protecting yourself and others with vaccination.
Vaccine hesitancy in people with disabilities is often related to their past experiences or fear of how the vaccine will impact their disability.

Last Updated 11/7/2022.

Educate Yourself: What is COVID-19? What is my risk?

COVID-19: What is it?

COVID-19 is the nickname for coronavirus. COVID-19 is making people sick all over the world, including people in South Carolina. People with disabilities and underlying medical conditions are at more risk of getting sick with COVID-19.  

How do you get COVID-19?  How does it make you sick?

  • COVID-19 is spread through germs from people.
  • These germs can be spread when someone who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or when their germs get into the air or on things you touch.
  • If you get COVID-19, it can make you feel sick and tired and even make you go to the hospital.
  • COVID-19 has made many people sick, especially people with disabilities and health conditions.
  • Some of the things that happen when you have COVID-19 are (Source 69 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022):
    • Have a cough
    • Have a hard time breathing
    • Have a fever
    • Feel achy and tired
    • Have new loss of taste or smell
    • Have congestion, runny nose, or sneezing
    • Have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
    • Have a headache
    • Have brain fog 
      • If you have brain fog, you might have trouble focusing or remembering information (Source 68 – Mayo Clinic Health System, 2022). 
  • If you are experiencing any of the following emergency warning signs of COVID-19 call your medical provider immediately:
    • Having trouble breathing
    • Having pain or pressure in the chest
    • Having new confusion
    • Having a hard time waking up and staying awake
    • Have pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds. For people with darker skin, these symptoms may be harder to see

I have a disability. Why am I at a higher risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19? 

1 in 3 people in South Carolina has a disability (Source 1 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people with 1 or more medical conditions are 1.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19 (Source 2 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). People with disabilities may have a higher risk of getting very sick or dying if they get COVID-19 because:

  • The type of disability you have can make you very sick if you get COVID-19.
  • Your disability might mean you have a weaker immune system.
  • COVID-19 can make the symptoms you already have get worse.
  • If you have a breathing disability, getting COVID-19 can make it a lot harder to breathe.
  • You may have limited mobility or cannot avoid coming into close contact with others who may be infected, such as direct support providers and family members who may care for you.
  • You may have a hard time understanding information about COVID-19.
  • You may have difficulty washing your hands and staying at least 6 feet away from others to protect yourself from COVID-19.
  • You may have trouble communicating or explaining how you are feeling.
  • Social factors may increase your risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

What social reasons put me at risk because of my disability? 

Many other reasons may put you at more risk, such as where you live, lack of access to medical care, costs of medical care, and the type of disability you have. Please see below for some examples: 

Where you Live

  • You might live far away from COVID-19 vaccination centers, testing sites, doctors’ offices, and other medical help.
  • If you live in a care facility, you are at more risk of getting COVID-19 and dying from COVID-19 than people with disabilities who are not living in care facilities. (Source 72 – National Council on Disability, 2021)
  • You may live in an area that does not have public transportation and/or do not have your transportation.
  • If you live far away from your doctor, you might not get help until much later. 

What can you do? You can call the SC Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046 to get help getting a ride to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Access to Medical Care

People with disabilities are at higher risk because going to the doctor’s office and getting care can be more challenging. Below are some of the reasons why going to the doctor’s office can be harder for people with disabilities. 

  • You may not have been able to get to medical exams because the doctor’s office is not accessible. 
  • You may not have gotten proper care because the devices or medical table were not accessible.
  • You may have felt like the nurses, doctors, or other medical staff had a negative attitude toward your or your disability.
  • You may have had a hard time understanding what your doctor or medical staff were telling you.
  • You may have felt your disability was ignored. 
  • You may have felt that the doctor or medical staff didn’t understand your disability.
  • You may have gone to the doctor before and felt they didn’t know how to care for you. 
  • You may have felt that you did not get the treatment you needed.

What can you do? You can call the SC Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046 to get help getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Costs

  • You might not have health insurance. 
  • Without insurance, you might be less likely to go to the doctor or hospital because of the cost.
  • You may have other costs like childcare, transportation, parking, or missing work that might make it harder to get to a free COVID-19 vaccination site.

What can you do? You can call the SC Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046 to get help getting the COVID-19 vaccine for free.

Your type of disability, where you live, access to care, and cost are all things that might keep you away from the doctor or a testing site. 

  • If you can’t get tested, you don’t know if you have COVID-19.
  • If you don’t know if you have COVID-19, you can accidentally give COVID-19 to other people.
  • If you don’t know you have COVID-19, you might get very sick before getting help.
  • You might not want to go to the doctor. If you don’t go to the doctor, you might not learn you are sick until much later, when you could be much sicker and have a hard time getting better.

It is important that people with disabilities who are at high risk get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as we can.

What is a COVID-19 variant? 

A COVID-19 variant is a version of the COVID-19 virus that’s just a little different from the version before it.  Some of the most common differences are that COVID-19 variants can spread faster and more easily and can also make you sicker.  For example, the Alpha variant spread just a little faster than the original version of the COVID-19 virus (Source 30 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).  

Some of the variants that you might hear a lot about are the Delta variant, the Omicron variant, and the BA5 subvariant. That is because all of these variants spread easily and can make you very sick.  

Variants of viruses are common, and the CDC tells us these variants were expected.  People with disabilities are generally at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 and are more likely to have worse outcomes or die from getting COVID-19 (Source 25 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022; Source 72 – National Council on Disability, 2021; Source 78 – Ferreira, V. and Solera J., 2022).  

As a person with a disability, how can I protect myself from COVID-19 variants? 

The best way for people with disabilities to protect themselves from COVID-19 variants is by getting a COVID-19 vaccine and staying up to date with your shots. A vaccine may not stop you from getting sick, but it will help lower the risk that you will get very sick and go to the hospital with a COVID-19 variant.   

If you have already gotten your vaccine, staying up to date and getting a booster shot is another way you can help protect yourself from COVID-19 variants. Vaccines make your immune system stronger to fight the virus. 

Wearing a mask also lowers your risk of getting COVID-19 and all of the COVID-19 variants (Source 30 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).  

Talk to your doctor, or another medical provider you trust, about which COVID-19 vaccine is the best for you. If you need help scheduling your vaccine or have questions, you can call the Disability Vaccine Access Hotline. You should also make sure to wear masks anytime you’re inside in a public place and wash your hands often.

What is Long Covid?

Long COVID is also known as “post-COVID conditions,” “chronic COVID,” and “long-haul COVID-19.”

Long COVID is the name for health problems or symptoms that someone has after having COVID-19. These health problems can start a month or more after having COVID-19 (Source 76 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 

What are common symptoms of Long COVID? 

Long COVID can impact any part of your body. There are many different symptoms that you could have if you have Long COVID. Some of the things that happen when you have Long COVID are (Source 76 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022):

  • Have a cough
  • Have a hard time breathing
  • Have a fever
  • Feel achy and tired
  • Have loss of taste or smell
  • Have congestion, runny nose, or sneezing
  • Have stomach pain or diarrhea
  • Have a headache
  • Have brain fog 
    • If you have brain fog, you might have trouble focusing or remembering information (Source 68 – Mayo Clinic Health System, 2022). 
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Have chest pain or a fast heartbeat
  • Have depression or anxiety
  • Your symptoms may get worse after physical or mental exercise

How long can Long COVID symptoms last? 

  • Long COVID can last weeks, months, or even years. Doctors and scientists are still doing research to find answers to this question. 

What do I need to know about Long COVID? 

  • You are more likely to get Long COVID if you are unvaccinated.
  • Even if you have a mild case of COVID, you can still get Long COVID.
  • There is not a single test that doctors use to find out if you have Long COVID. It is important to keep track of your symptoms so you can give your doctor as much information as possible. 

What are some tips for talking to my doctor about Long COVID?

Some tips for talking to your doctor about Long COVID are (Source 82 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022):

  • Write down all sicknesses you have or might have had
  • If you’re seeing a new doctor, write down all the other doctors that you’ve seen
  • Write down when you had Covid019 and any symptoms you had
  • Write down when you started having symptoms again after testing negative for Covid-19
  • Write down what tests you’ve had done for doctors to learn more about the symptoms you’re having
  • Be ready to tell your doctor what medicines you take
  • Ask for an appointment summary to keep track of what your doctor tells you
  • Ask your doctor to write down any instructions they give you

How do I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Stay away from large groups of people.
  • Wear a face mask when you are around other people. Learn more about masks by reading our eblast on masks at this link.
  • Get your COVID-19 vaccine and stay up to date with booster shots. 

Vaccines: What are they? Why are they important?

What is a COVID-19 vaccine?

A vaccine is a type of shot with medicine. The medicine in a COVID-19 vaccine fights the virus and helps protect you from getting sick.

Why are people getting a vaccine?

People get a vaccine to make it easier for their bodies to fight COVID-19. 

What COVID-19 vaccines are available in the United States?

In the United States, the vaccines that have been approved are: 

  1. Pfizer BioNTech
  2. Moderna
  3. Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
  4. Novavax 

The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for people 6 months and older (Source 56 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for people 6 months and older (Source 56 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 

J&J has been approved under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 and older.

Novavax has been approved under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for people ages 12 and older (Source 61- Food and Drug Administration, 2022, Source 67- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022; Source 73- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective; they have been evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials (Source 60 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

Vaccines are available to people ages 6 months and older

  • Children ages 6 months to 4 years
    • Pfizer BioNTech vaccine
    • Moderna vaccine
  • Children age 5 years:
    • Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and bivalent booster
    • Moderna vaccine
  • Children ages 6 to 11 years
    • Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and bivalent booster
    • Moderna vaccine and bivalent booster
  • Children ages 12-17
    • Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and bivalent booster
    • Moderna vaccine and bivalent booster
    • Novavax vaccine  
  • Adults ages 18 and older
    • Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and bivalent booster
    • Moderna vaccine and bivalent booster
    • Johnson & Johnson vaccine 
    • Novavax vaccine and monovalent booster 

What is emergency use authorization?

An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) happens when supplies or medicine like a vaccine are needed quickly in an emergency. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is an example of an emergency.

  • In an emergency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the power to approve a vaccine quickly.
  • In an emergency, the supplies or medicine will help prevent a specific disease like COVID-19.
  • Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) does not mean that important steps were skipped in making the vaccines safe.

Does the vaccine have the virus in it? 

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in the United States contain the live virus. All four vaccines give your immune system the tools it needs to attack the COVID-19 virus. Each vaccine does this in different ways (Source 49 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 

What is a Viral Vector vaccine, and how does it work? 

J&J’s vaccine is a viral vector vaccine (Source 48 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

  • When making viral vector vaccines, scientists use a harmless virus to carry information to the body.
  • The body makes a harmless piece of protein, and your immune system then makes antibodies in response.
  • Antibodies teach your body how to protect you against future infections.
  • The harmless virus and its protein cannot make you sick.
  • After the J&J vaccine, your immune system can make antibodies to protect against COVID-19 infection.
  • You are not injected with the COVID-19 virus.

Is the J&J Vaccine Safe?

Scientists recommend Moderna and Pfizer’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and boosters instead of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine and booster. An mRNA type of COVID-19 vaccine and booster is your safest option unless your doctor says you should not have an mRNA vaccine (Source 48 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 

J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine will remain available:

  • If you had a severe reaction after an mRNA vaccine dose
  • If you have a severe allergy to an ingredient of Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines)
  • If Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are not available to you
  • If you want to get the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, even though scientists recommend Pfizer or Moderna

What is a protein subunit vaccine, and how does it work? 

Novavax is a protein subunit vaccine. 

  • When making protein subunit vaccines, scientists only use parts of the virus that do the best job of giving your immune system what it needs to fight COVID-19.  
  • This type of vaccine contains S proteins that are harmless. 
  • When your body recognizes the proteins, in response, your immune system makes antibodies and white blood cells (Source 62 – Mayo Clinic, 2022). 
  • This type of vaccine has been used for many years. Examples include flu, Hepatitis B, and Whooping Cough vaccines (Source 63 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 
  • This type of vaccine is different from the mRNA and Viral Vector vaccines because it contains something called an adjuvant (Source 5 – Katella, 2022). 
  • An adjuvant is an ingredient used to increase your immune system’s response. They have been used for many years in a variety of vaccines and are very safe (Source 65 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 

What is an mRNA vaccine, and how does it work?

Moderna and Pfizer are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.

  • These vaccines deliver a tiny piece of safe genetic material from the virus to cells in the body.
  • This material gives instructions for making copies of something called spike proteins.
  • Spike proteins stimulate an immune response and produce antibodies.
  • If your body is infected with the virus, your cells will remember and plan how to respond (Source 5 – Katella, 2022).
  • After the spike protein is made, our body breaks down the mRNA and removes it.
  • mRNA vaccines do not and can’t change or interact with your DNA.
  • mRNA vaccines do not go to where DNA is located in our bodies (Source 6 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
  • Even though this type of vaccine is new, research and development on it have been going on for over 50 years (Source 7 – Dolgin, 2021).
  • The vaccines went through the same development and steps as other vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly to save lives.

Why are the COVID-19 vaccine & boosters important for people with disabilities? 

People with disabilities may have a higher risk of getting very sick or dying if they get COVID-19. This is because of many possible reasons listed below:

  • The type of disability you have can make you very sick if you get COVID-19.
  • Your disability might mean you have a weaker immune system.
  • COVID-19 can make the symptoms you already have get worse.
  • If you have a breathing disability, getting COVID-19 can make it a lot harder to breathe.
  • You may have limited mobility. This can mean you can’t avoid being near other people who may be infected, like direct support providers and family members.
  • You may have a hard time understanding information about COVID-19.
  • You may have a hard time washing your hands and staying at least 6 feet away from others to protect yourself from COVID-19.
  • You may have trouble communicating how you are feeling.
  • Social reasons may increase your risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

People with disabilities at high risk must get the COVID-19 vaccine and follow up with their booster shots as soon as possible (Source 3 – International Disability Alliance, 2020). 

COVID-19 is dangerous. The vaccine is not. The effects of COVID-19 are worse than the vaccine’s side effects (Source 10 – Rosenblum et al., 2021). Some people who get COVID-19 can stay sick for a long time. This sickness is called Long COVID. Long COVID is a disability. Getting your COVID-19 vaccine can help keep you safe from COVID-19 and Long COVID (Source 71 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 

You should talk to your doctor if you think you may have a high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.

What if I’m allergic to other vaccines? 

You should still think about getting the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have allergies to other vaccines. If you have had an allergic reaction to other vaccines, talk with your doctor as the COVID-19 vaccine may be very different. 

  • Pfizer & Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines (mRNA) (Source 11 – Warren et al., 2021)
    • Studies show that most allergic reactions to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are related to an ingredient used in the vaccine called Polyethylene Glycol (PEG).
    • Most allergic reactions are to PEG, not the mRNA.
  • Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 Vaccines (Source 12 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)
    • For Johnson and Johnson, the ingredient that causes the most allergic reactions is Polysorbate.
  • Novavax COVID-19 Vaccines
    • Polysorbate is also an ingredient in the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (Source 66 – Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre, 2022). 

PEG and Polysorbate are common ingredients in vaccines.  PEG is a common ingredient in Gatorade or Miralax. Both of these ingredients have been known to cause allergic reactions in some people. Most people are not allergic to PEG or Polysorbate. 

If you know you are allergic to one ingredient in the vaccines, ask your doctor if another vaccine would be better for you. You may still be able to get the vaccine because there are different kinds of vaccines (Source 12 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). 

You should still get the vaccine if you have other non-medical allergies, such as allergies to some foods, animals, or environments (Source 12 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).  

If you are worried about allergies, you should ask your doctor how to safely get the COVID-19 vaccine.

What are booster shots? What does it mean to be up-to-date on my COVID-19 vaccine?

  • COVID-19 booster shots are doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that will make sure your first round of vaccine is strong for a longer amount of time.
  • It is common for vaccines to get weaker over time.
  • This could mean you’re less protected against virus variants. These variants can be easier to get and spread than the original virus.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe sickness, keep you out of the hospital, and prevent death. Getting your COVID-19 vaccine can help keep you safe from Long COVID as well (Source 71 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 
  • Even though vaccines work, we are starting to see less protection against getting sick (Source 13 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). Booster shots add the protection you need. Getting your vaccine and booster shots at the prescribed time will help you stay up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine.
  • People with disabilities are at more risk of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19. Getting booster shots can help protect you better.
  • Many vaccines that you had in the past include booster shots. You get booster shots after your first chickenpox, tetanus, mumps and measles, and other vaccines.

What is the difference between bivalent and monovalent shots? 

  • A monovalent vaccine has ingredients that fight one strain of a virus. The COVID-19 monovalent vaccines and boosters were made to fight the original COVID-19 virus (Source 80 – Food and Drug Administration, 2022).
    • The original COVID-19 vaccines are monovalent.
    • The Novavax booster shot is a monovalent vaccine (Source 57 – Washington State Hospital Association, 2022). 
  • A bivalent vaccine has ingredients that fight two strains of a virus (Source 79 – Food and Drug Administration, 2022). The updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters contain mRNA from
    • The original SARS-CoV-2 virus
    • A strain of the Omicron variant to fight against BA.4 and BA.5. (Source 80 – Food and Drug Administration, 2022).

Why is a bivalent booster important?

  • The updated boosters will provide more protection against the COVID-19 virus. They provide more protection because they have two mRNA strains that teach your body how to fight the virus.
  • Scientists use mRNA from the original COVID-19 virus. The mRNA from the original COVID-19 virus increases the protection you get from your first vaccines.
  • They add mRNA that fights the BA.4 and BA5 variants. The BA.4 and BA5 variants are making most people sick right now.
  • Scientists expect these variants will continue infecting people into the fall and winter of 2022 (Source 80 – Food and Drug Administration, 2022).
  • The bivalent boosters can protect you from getting very sick during the fall and winter of 2022.

Does the bivalent booster have different side effects?   

  • Side effects from the bivalent boosters are similar to the side effects from the original monovalent vaccines. 
  • Most side effects are redness and swelling where you got your vaccine. You may also have fatigue, headache, fever, and joint pain (Source 80 – Food and Drug Administration, 2022).

Will the monovalent vaccines and boosters still be used?

  • The monovalent vaccines will still be used for your primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The Pfizer and Moderna monovalent boosters will no longer be used (Source 79 – Food and Drug Administration, 2022).
  • There is a monovalent booster made by Novavax that is available in some situations (Source 83 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). Keep reading to learn about the Novavax booster. 

Who should get a booster shot?

People 5 years and older should get at least 1 booster shot after completing their COVID-19 vaccine primary series.* Your primary vaccine series is either one shot of J&J or 2 shots of Moderna, Pfizer, or Novavax vaccines.

You should get a bivalent booster shot if you (Source 79 -Food and Drug Administration, 2022; Source 83 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022):

  • Are 5 years or older. 
  • It has been 2 months or longer since you finished your primary vaccine series or gotten a monovalent booster.

You should get the Novavax monovalent booster shot if you (Source 70 – Katella, 2022; Source 57 – Washington State Hospital Association, 2022): 

  • You are 18 years old or older
  • It has been 6 months or longer since your primary vaccine series
  • You have not gotten a booster shot before
  • You cannot or are not willing to get a bivalent mRNA booster 

Which booster shot(s) should I get?

There are 3 boosters. 2 are bivalent boosters, and 1 is a monovalent booster. 

  • The bivalent boosters are Pfizer, and Moderna. 
  • The monovalent booster is Novavax.  
  • For the bivalent booster, it does not matter which brand you get. 
  • You should get the bivalent booster in order to be better protected against Omicron variants (Source 83 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 
  • For your primary vaccine series, your options are Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, or Novavax. 

Pfizer Bivalent Booster (Source 85 – Food and Drug Administration, 2022)

You can get the Pfizer bivalent booster shot if:

  • You are 5 years old or older
  • It has been 2 months or longer since you finished your primary vaccine series or gotten a monovalent booster

Moderna Bivalent Booster (Source 86 – Food and Drug Administration, 2022)

You can get the Moderna bivalent booster shot if:

  • You are 6 years old or older
  • It has been 2 months or longer since you finished your primary vaccine series or gotten a monovalent booster

*Previously, children under 12 who had gotten the Moderna vaccine for their primary vaccine series, were not eligible to get a booster shot. This has now changed, and they can get a bivalent booster shot (Source 84 – National Public Radio, 2022).   

Novavax Monovalent Booster (Source 70 – Katella, 2022; Source 57 – Washington State Hospital Association, 2022)

You can get the Novavax monovalent booster shot if:

  • You are 18 years old or older
  • It has been 6 months or longer since your primary vaccine series
  • You have not gotten a booster shot before
  • You cannot or are not willing to get a bivalent mRNA booster 

Common Questions about the Bivalent Booster Shots

  • I already got the Pfizer or Moderna monovalent booster shot. Can I still get a bivalent booster?
      • If it has been at least 2 months since your last booster shot, you can and should get the bivalent booster. 
  • I already got 2 doses of the Pfizer or Moderna monovalent booster shot. Can I still get a bivalent booster?
      • Some people may have already gotten 2 monovalent booster shots. 
      • As long as it has been at least 2 months since your last booster, you are eligible for and should get the new bivalent booster. 
  • Do children and adults get the same shot? (Source 84 – National Public Radio, 2022) 
    • Children 12 to 17 will get the same booster dosage as adults.
    • Children 5 to 11 will get the same booster shot as adults, but it will be a smaller dose.
      • For Pfizer, the dosage is ⅓ of the adult shot.
      • For Moderna, the dosage is ½ of the adult shot. 

Note: If you had to get a certain vaccine because you are allergic to one of the ingredients in other COVID-19 vaccines, then talk to your doctor about booster options (Source 13 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

When should I get my booster shots?

When you should get your booster shot depends on when you finished your primary vaccine series or got your last dose (Source 83 -Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

  • People, including children, 5 years old and older can get a bivalent booster 2 months after finishing their primary vaccine series or getting a monovalent booster.
  • Adults 18 years and older can get the Novavax monovalent booster if it has been 6 months or longer since they finished their primary vaccine series. 

If you have had an allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine ingredient in the past, then your doctor may tell you not to get that vaccine. 

  • If you have been instructed not to get one type of COVID-19 vaccine, you may still be able to get another type.
  • Talk to your doctor to find out which COVID-19 vaccine booster is best for you.

Booster shots add the protection you need. Getting your vaccine and booster shots at the prescribed time will help you stay up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine.

What is the difference between booster shots and additional doses for people with disabilities?

A booster shot is given months after your primary vaccine series of the COVID-19 vaccine because you become less protected against getting sick over time (Source 17 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).

An additional dose is different from a booster shot. If your disability causes a weakened immune system, you may need a third dose in your primary mRNA vaccine series. Additional doses can make your immune system’s response to the COVID-19 vaccine better (Source 18 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 

The additional dose is available for people 5 years and older with weakened immune systems. Talk to your doctor or trusted medical professional to learn if an additional dose is right for you.

Keep reading for a vaccination and booster timeline for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. 

Why should I ask my family members, friends, and care providers to get the COVID-19 vaccine & booster(s)?

Sometimes the type of help you need can put you at a higher risk of getting COVID-19. You may have limited mobility. This can mean you can’t avoid being near other people who may be infected, like direct support providers and family members. 

For example, you might be at more risk of getting COVID-19 if: 

  • You must come in close contact with others who help you, such as direct care providers, personal caregivers, teachers, and family members. People near you could have COVID-19 and spread it to you.
  • You have trouble understanding information or practicing safety skills, such as hand washing, wearing a mask, and social distancing.
  • You have trouble communicating when you are feeling sick.

People who support you should get the COVID-19 vaccine to help keep you healthy. These people may include:

  • Your family
  • Your teachers
  • Your personal caregivers
  • Your direct care providers

People with disabilities are at more risk of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19. By getting their vaccine and booster shots, the people around you can help protect you, better.

Booster shots add the protection we need. Getting the vaccine and booster shots at the prescribed time will help them stay up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccination & Booster Timeline (Source 83 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022):

Pfizer Vaccine (mRNA) 

  • For Ages 6 months to 4 years:

Primary vaccine series: 3 total shots

  • 1st shot 
  • 2nd shot given 3 to 8 weeks after 1st shot
  • 3rd shot given at least 8 weeks after 2nd shot
  • For Age 5 years: 
    • Primary vaccine series: 2 shots 
      • 1st shot 
      • 2nd shot given 3 to 8 weeks after 1st shot

Booster Shot: 

  • Pfizer bivalent booster shot given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series or a monovalent booster was gotten 
  • For Ages 6 and Up:
    • Primary Vaccine Series: 2 total shots 
      • 1st shot
      • 2nd shot given 3 to 8 weeks after 1st dose

Booster Shot:

  • Pfizer or Moderna Bivalent booster given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series or a monovalent booster was gotten
  • If you are 18 or older and have completed your Pfizer primary vaccine series but have not gotten a bivalent mRNA booster before, are unable to receive an mRNA vaccine, and otherwise would not receive a booster shot: 
  • You can receive a Novovax COVID-19 booster 6 months after your primary vaccine series.

Moderna Vaccine (mRNA) 

  • For Ages 6 months to 4 years

Primary vaccine series: 2 total shots

  • 1st shot
  • 2nd shot given 4 to 8 weeks after 1st shot 
  • For Age 5 years: 

Primary vaccine series: 2 total shots

  • 1st shot
  • 2nd shot given 4 to 8 weeks after 1st shot
  • Booster: 
    • Pfizer bivalent booster shot given at least 2 months after 2nd primary series shot 
  • For Ages 6 years and older

Primary Vaccine series: 2 total shots

  • 1st shot
  • 2nd shot given 4 to 8 weeks after the 1st shot

Booster

  • Pfizer or Moderna Bivalent booster given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series or a monovalent booster was gotten
  • If you are 18 or older and have completed your Moderna primary vaccine series but have not gotten a bivalent mRNA booster before, are unable to receive an mRNA vaccine, and otherwise would not receive a booster shot: 
  • You can receive a Novovax COVID-19 booster 6 months after your primary vaccine series. 

Novavax (protein subunit)

For Ages 12 and Up:

Primary vaccine series: 2 total shots 

  • 1 shot
  • 2nd shot given 3 to 8 weeks after 

Booster

  • Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series or a monovalent booster was gotten 
  • If you are 18 or older and have completed your Novavax primary vaccine series but have not gotten a bivalent mRNA booster before, are unable to receive an mRNA vaccine, and otherwise would not receive a booster shot: 
  • You can receive a Novovax COVID-19 booster 6 months after your primary vaccine series. 

J&J Vaccine (viral vector)*

  For ages 18 years and up:

Primary series: 1 shot

  • 1 shot

Booster

  • Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series or a monovalent booster was gotten 
  • If you are 18 or older and have completed your J&J primary vaccine series but have not gotten a bivalent mRNA booster before, are unable to receive an mRNA vaccine, and otherwise would not receive a booster shot: 
  • You can receive a Novovax COVID-19 booster 6 months after your primary vaccine series. 

*A longer time between the 1st and 2nd shot may give you more protection and minimize rare side effects. Talk to your doctor about the timing for the 2nd dose in your primary series.

Talk to your doctor about which booster shots are right for you and the best time to get yours (Source 83 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

COVID-19 Vaccination & Booster Timeline for People who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised (Source 18 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022):

Pfizer-Vaccine (mRNA) (for people who are who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised)

  • For Ages 6 months to 4 years:

Primary vaccine series: 3 total shots 

  • 1st shot 
  • 2nd shot given 3 to 8 weeks after
  • 3rd shot is given after at least 8 weeks
  • For Ages 5 years old: 
    • Primary vaccine series: 3 total shots
      • 1st shot 
      • 2nd shot given after 3 weeks 
      • 3rd shot given after at least 4 weeks 

Booster: 

  • Children Age 5 can ONLY get the  Pfizer BiValent mRNA booster at least 2 months after their last shot 
  • For Ages 6 and up: 
    • Primary vaccine series: 3 total shots
      • 1st shot 
      • 2nd shot given after 3 weeks 
      • 3rd shot given after at least 4 weeks 
    • Booster
  • Pfizer or Moderna Bivalent booster given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series or a monovalent booster was gotten
  • If you are 18 or older and have completed your Pfizer primary vaccine series but have not gotten a bivalent mRNA booster before, are unable to receive an mRNA vaccine, and otherwise would not receive a booster shot: 
  • You can receive a Novovax COVID-19 booster 6 months after your primary vaccine series. 

Moderna Vaccine (mRNA) (for people who are who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised)

  • For Ages 6 months to 4 years:

Primary vaccine series: 3 total shots 

  • 1st shot 
  • 2nd shot given after 4 weeks 
  • 3rd shot given after at least 4 weeks 
  • For Ages 5 years old: 

Primary vaccine series: 3 total shot 

  • 1st shot 
  • 2nd shot given after 4 weeks
  • 3rd shot given after at least 4 weeks
  • Booster
    • Pfizer Bivalent booster given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series
  • For Ages 6 years and up: 

Primary Vaccine Series: 3 total shots 

  • 1st shot 
  • 2nd shot given after 4 weeks 
  • 3rd shot given after at least 4 weeks 
  • Booster; 
    • Pfizer or Moderna Bivalent booster given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series or a monovalent booster was gotten
  • If you are 18 or older and have completed your Moderna primary vaccine series but have not gotten a bivalent mRNA booster before, are unable to receive an mRNA vaccine, and otherwise would not receive a booster shot: 
  • You can receive a Novovax COVID-19 booster 6 months after your primary vaccine series. 

Novavax  (for people who are who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised) 

For Ages 12 to 18 years old

Primary Vaccine Series: 2 shots 

  • 1st shot 
  • 2nd shot given 3 to 8 weeks after the 1st shot 
  • Booster; 
    • Pfizer or Moderna Bivalent booster given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series or a monovalent booster was gotten
  • If you are 18 or older and have completed your Novavax primary vaccine series but have not gotten a bivalent mRNA booster before, are unable to receive an mRNA vaccine, and otherwise would not receive a booster shot: 
  • You can receive a Novovax COVID-19 booster 6 months after your primary vaccine series. 

J&J Vaccine (viral vector)* (for people who are who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised)

For Ages 18 and Up:

Primary Vaccine Series: 1 shot 

  • 1st shot

Additional mRNA Dose

  • After 4 weeks

Bivalent mRNA booster

  • Pfizer or Moderna Bivalent booster given at least 2 months after primary vaccine series or a monovalent booster was gotten
  • If you are 18 or older and have completed your J&J primary vaccine series but have not gotten a bivalent mRNA booster before, are unable to receive an mRNA vaccine, and otherwise would not receive a booster shot: 
  • You can receive a Novovax COVID-19 booster 6 months after your primary vaccine series. 

*A longer time between the 1st and 2nd shot may give you more protection and minimize rare side effects. Talk to your doctor about the timing for the 2nd dose in your primary series.

Talk to your doctor about which booster shots are right for you and the best time to get yours (Source 83 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

How do I schedule my COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots?

The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can help you schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

  • The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can help people with disabilities, families, and caregivers.
  • You can reach the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046

It is also possible to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine online or by phone through your local health department or pharmacy. In South Carolina, you can search for vaccine locations at the DHEC Vaccine Locator (Source 19 – South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, n.d.). If you need help, the South Carolina Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046 can help you schedule your vaccine, additional shot, and boosters.

Safety & Trust: Nervous? Trust these facts.

SAFETY: I have a disability, and I’m nervous about the vaccine. How do I know it’s safe and works for me?

COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself from getting very sick or dying from COVID-19. They can also protect you from getting long COVID (Source 76 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). The effects of COVID-19 can be much worse for a person with a disability than any of the side effects of the vaccine (Source 10 – Rosenblum et al., 2021).

People with disabilities are often much safer if they get the vaccine. The vaccines do not give you COVID-19. 

Getting COVID-19 and long COVID is much worse than any vaccine side effects (Source 77 – Reno, 2021). 

Let’s learn about the normal side effects you may have from getting vaccinated and why the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for everyone, including people with disabilities.

Are there side effects from the shots?  

Some people might experience side effects from the shots, and others will not.

  • Side effects might include pain, redness, or swelling where you got the shots.
  • Other side effects you might have are:
    • fever
    • pain
    • chills
    • headache
    • nausea

If you have any of these side effects, it can mean the vaccine is working. Your body is learning to protect itself against COVID-19. Side effects should go away after a few days. If you are worried about any side effects you have, you should contact your doctor. 

When you get your COVID-19 vaccine, you can sign up for V-Safe. V-Safe is an after-vaccine health checker available online. Signing up for V-Safe will allow you to report to the CDC how you are feeling after you get your vaccine or booster. Sharing how you feel after the vaccine helps the CDC monitor the safety of the vaccine. (Source 20 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

I worry about how the vaccines will impact my disability and health condition. Why should I get vaccinated?

Without the COVID-19 vaccine, you have the greatest risk of getting very sick, going to the hospital, and dying. You are also at higher risk of developing long covid (Source 76- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 

People with disabilities may have a higher risk of getting very sick or dying if they get COVID-19 (Source 21 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). This is because of many possible reasons listed below:

  • The type of disability you have can make you very sick if you get COVID-19
  • Your disability might mean you have a weaker immune system
  • COVID-19 can make the symptoms you already have with your disability get worse
  • If you have a breathing disability, getting COVID-19 can make it a lot harder to breathe

I heard the vaccines give you the COVID-19 virus. Is that true?

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in the United States contain the live virus. The vaccines approved in the United States are the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine, Novavax vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. The shots do not use the live virus. They can’t make you sick with COVID-19 (Source 22 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). 

Why should I bother getting vaccinated if I can still get COVID-19? 

In most cases, the COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from becoming sick and going to the hospital if you test positive for the virus. It can also protect you from getting long covid.

  • Most of the people who are in the hospital with COVID-19 have not been fully vaccinated. This means they have not gotten all of the recommended doses of the vaccine.
  • You can still catch the virus from someone after you get the vaccine. This is called a breakthrough infection.
  • If you got the vaccine and still get COVID-19, you could likely have mild symptoms. The vaccine helps you not get as sick as you could if you were not vaccinated. 
  • Getting vaccinated is your best chance at protecting yourself from getting very sick, going to the hospital, or dying from COVID-19 (Source 23 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)  

I’ve already had COVID-19, so why should I get the vaccine?

It is possible to become sick with COVID-19 more than once. Scientists learned getting the vaccine may better protect you from COVID-19 (Source 24 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021) and long COVID.

  • After getting sick with COVID-19, you may have “natural immunity.”
  • Natural immunity from COVID-19 happens when your body produces antibodies to fight off COVID-19 after you have been exposed to or gotten sick with the virus.
  • This natural immunity does not last very long.
  • Natural immunity may not protect you from COVID-19 variants (Source 39 – Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2021).
  • Talk to your doctor about your COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself and your community.

TRUST: I don’t trust the information I’m getting about vaccines. Why should I trust the vaccine now?

When vaccines were first made available in 2020, some doctors wanted more information for their patients with disabilities. At that time, your doctor may have told you to wait to get vaccinated. Since then, we know COVID-19 vaccines are safe for many people with disabilities.

Some people are still worried about trusting the vaccine, especially if they have a disability. Let’s talk about common questions about vaccine trust:

I heard the vaccine was made quickly. Why should I trust it?

The four COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. (Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson) were developed in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. A pandemic is a widespread sickness that affects the whole world. 

  • Research that led to these types of vaccines has been going on for over 50 years.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine went through the same steps as other vaccines. 
  • The COVID-19 vaccines were just made quickly to save lives.
  • COVID-19 vaccines were made thanks to funding and scientists around the world working together (Source 22 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
  • The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and are proven to work for people with disabilities (Source 25 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).
  • People with disabilities are at greater risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19 due to:
    • Medical conditions
    • Group living settings
    • Issues in the health and social systems that are not fair or equal 
    • (Source 25 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022)
  • Talk to your doctor about your COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself and your community.

Why should I trust the vaccine is safe for me?

Due to discrimination, people with disabilities might not trust medical companies or politicians who encourage vaccination. Even though you may not trust medical companies or politicians to protect the disability community, COVID-19 vaccines help us protect our community. (Source 26 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)

  • You might be afraid to get the vaccine because you were told something scary about the vaccine.
  • You might not trust the vaccine because you got some wrong information.
  • You may have experienced trauma from the medical care you’ve gotten. Trauma can include serious physical or emotional harm.
  • You may be worried because information about your disability may not be included in what you’ve learned about the vaccine.
  • Maybe you’re worried because vaccine information is often changing and updating.
  • Maybe you have read one thing about COVID-19, but a new thing you’ve read says something different.
  • Maybe the information is not shared in a way that you can understand.

It can be hard to know what’s right or wrong. Here are the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Evidence shows these vaccines are safe for many people, including people with disabilities (Source 26 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
  • The vaccines help slow the spread of COVID-19 and lower the chances of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19.
  • The vaccine can protect you from getting long covid.
  • Many independent groups, including those led by doctors of color, have done their work to test the vaccines. They say the vaccines work and are safe (Source 27 – National Medical Association, 2020).
  • Many government officials, including all living U.S. presidents and current governors, got COVID-19 vaccines (Source 29 – Link, 2021).

How does knowing someone who has already gotten their vaccine, and is doing well, encourage me to get the vaccine?

  • The COVID-19 vaccine has been available since 2020. This means you probably know one or more people who have gotten their vaccine and booster and are doing well. This is good news for many reasons:
    • If you are nervous, it gives you someone to talk to about how it went for them. 
    • Any common side effects they had will give you an idea of what might happen when you get vaccinated and boosted.
    • If they are a person with a disability, they can share how they found an accessible vaccine site.
    • Hearing about another person’s experience might help to give you confidence.
    • You might not realize you know someone who’s gotten the vaccine, but don’t be afraid to ask around. 
    • Having friends and family you know you can trust goes a long way to help you feel more confident about getting the vaccine.

Protect Yourself & Others: What about at-risk groups?

I’m concerned about the vaccine for people in my life. How does it impact children, older adults, or pregnant people, including those with disabilities? 

Can children get the vaccine?

Yes, children can get the vaccine, including children with disabilities (Source 31 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). 

Vaccines are available to people ages 6 months and older:

  • Children ages 6 months to 17 years
    • Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
    • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
  • Children ages 12 to 17 years
    • Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

A vaccine booster shot is recommended for people 5 years old and older.

  • Children 5 and older can get the Pfizer bivalent booster. 
  • Children 6 and older can get the Moderna bivalent booster. 

Important information about children and COVID-19 vaccination: 

  • Food and Drug Administration research shows that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine caused an immune response in ages 6 months to 4 years of age comparable to that of older adults (Source 59 – Food & Drug Administration, 2022).
  • Research also shows that the immune response for the Moderna vaccine in children was comparable to the immune response to that of adults (Source 59 – Food & Drug Administration, 2022). 
  • At this time, the COVID-19 vaccine has not caused any severe side effects in children. Those side effects reported have been mild and are usually more common with the second shot (Source 58 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022)
  • Without vaccination, children risk:
    • Having serious long-term or lifelong health effects from COVID-19
    • Getting so sick they need to go to the hospital
    • Death caused by COVID-19
    • This risk is greater for children with disabilities 
  • The CDC recommends vaccination as soon as possible to protect all children from COVID 19 (Source 58 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).
  • Children who get the vaccine are less likely to miss school due to COVID-19 because they are less likely to get sick (Source 32 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021; Source 81 – Sick-Samuels, A., M.D., M.P.H., and Messina, A., M.D., 2022).
  • Vaccination slows the spread of COVID-19. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 will help protect everyone, especially children with disabilities (Source 34 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022; Source 81 – Sick-Samuels, A., M.D., M.P.H., and Messina, A., M.D., 2022).
  • The best way to protect children from Long COVID is to not get sick in the first place. Staying up to date on their vaccines and booster shots will help your children stay healthy. Symptoms for Long COVID vary for each person and child. Weakness, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and a cough are some of the most common Long COVID symptoms for children. Other long-term effects can be emotional stress or heart damage. Children who had more than one COVID-19 symptom are at more risk for Long COVID. (Source 87 – Unicef, 2022; Source 88 – UC Davis Health, 2022).    
  • Parents and caregivers can schedule their children for the vaccination via vaccine.gov
    • If you have a child with a disability who needs a reasonable accommodation to get the vaccine, please make sure to tell the vaccine provider when you schedule your child’s appointment.
    • A reasonable accommodation could be a quiet room or the ability to have a trusted person present (Source 32 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
  • The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can help you schedule your child’s COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
  • The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can help people with disabilities, their families, and their caregivers.
  • You can reach the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046

Can someone be too old to get vaccinated?

No. If you are older than 6 months old, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine (Source 31 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). 

Should older adults get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Yes. People 65 years of age and older are at higher risk of becoming very sick and dying from COVID-19. The vaccines are 94% effective at protecting older adults from severe sickness and hospitalization (Source 35 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021 and Source 36 – Administration for Community Living, 2021).

Should people living in nursing or group homes get vaccinated?

Yes, people living in group care facilities—such as nursing or group homes—should get vaccinated against COVID-19. It is hard to protect yourself if you live with people and new staff are coming in and out of your home. People ages 65 and older and those with disabilities are at higher risk of having to go to the hospital or dying from COVID-19. For individuals who are living in group care facilities, the risk of catching the virus is higher. A large number of COVID-related deaths have been of people who lived in facilities. These numbers were even higher early in the pandemic before vaccines were available. You still have more risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19 if you live in a care facility. Staying up to date on your vaccinations and booster shots is important to lower your risk. (Source 37 – United States Department of Justice, 2021; Source 38 – Paulin, E., 2022; Source 36 – Administration for Community Living, 2021). 

I’m thinking about having kids. I heard the COVID-19 vaccine can make me unable to have children. Is this true?

No. There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19, cause fertility problems or difficulty becoming pregnant in people with or without disabilities.

  • Many people have become pregnant and had healthy births after getting their vaccine, including people with disabilities.
  • Antibodies made after vaccination will not cause problems with fertility or becoming pregnant.
  • Many people that have gotten their COVID-19 vaccine, and their boosters have become pregnant and had healthy babies.
  • Vaccine ingredients do not cause problems with fertility or getting pregnant (Source 40 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).

If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, should I get vaccinated? 

Yes. The CDC recommends all people ages 6 months and older get the vaccine. This includes people who are pregnant and disabled people who are pregnant.

  • If you are pregnant and unvaccinated you have a higher chance of getting very sick from COVID-19.
  • If you are pregnant and get COVID-19 you have a higher chance of going to the hospital than someone who is not pregnant (Source 41 – Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 2021)
  • COVID-19 is more dangerous for pregnant people with disabilities (Source 42 – Satin & Sheffield, 2021).

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and a person with a disability, you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here is the good news:

  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe for both the pregnant person and their baby before birth, including those with disabilities.
  • People who receive the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines when pregnant build antibodies that may protect their baby from COVID-19. Vaccination during pregnancy has shown infants to have stronger antibody levels than babies born to pregnant people who did not get the vaccine and had COVID-19 before (Source 74 – Cunningham, J., 2022). A pregnant person getting vaccinated also reduces the risk of a baby having to go to the hospital because of COVID-19 (Source 75 – Jamieson, D. and Rasmussen, S., 2022). 
  • People who are breastfeeding and vaccinated can pass good protective antibodies to their baby through their breast milk. This may protect the baby from COVID-19 (Source 43 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).

Still have questions about pregnancy, fertility, and COVID-19 vaccination? Learn more about the topic and hear from a pregnant person who got vaccinated here.

Direct Service Providers, Teachers, & Family: Why should I get vaccinated?

I have family and friends with disabilities. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends all people ages 6 months and older get the vaccine. This includes you! There are many reasons, you should get vaccinated for the people with disabilities around you. Below are some reasons why you should be vaccinated. 

  • Some of your family and friends with disabilities may be at higher risk of getting COVID-19, becoming very sick, and dying (Source 17 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)
  • If you are living with someone with a disability or are offering care that is in close contact, you can easily spread COVID-19 to them, if you are infected. 
  • Vaccination decreases the spread of COVID-19. Decreasing the spread of COVID-19 protects others, especially people with disabilities who are at high risk. This protection doesn’t always last, which is why it is so important to stay up to date with your booster shots (Source 34 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022; Source 64 – Scully, R.P., 2022). 
  • People get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19.
  • The vaccine makes it easier for your body to fight COVID-19. If it is easier for your body to fight infection, then you could resume being near a person with a disability who may be at high risk much sooner. 
  • COVID-19 is dangerous. The vaccine is not. The effects of COVID-19 can make you and those you may care for very sick and even cause death. The side effects of a vaccine are temporary, if you experience any at all (Source 10 – Rosenblum et al., 2021).
  • To keep people with disabilities in your life healthy, you should get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Getting vaccinated and staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine will protect you and your family and friends with disabilities.

If you have any questions at all about the vaccine, please talk with your doctor to decide what’s best for you.

If you need help, the South Carolina Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046 can help you schedule your vaccine and booster.

I am a direct service provider /teacher for people with disabilities. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends all people ages 6 months and older get the vaccine. This includes you! Because you work with people with disabilities, you should get the vaccine to help protect them from getting sick or even dying. Below are a few other reasons why you may want to think about getting vaccinated and boosted. 

  • Direct service providers and teachers are often required to work in close contact with others. Working in close contact puts them at greater risk of being infected with COVID-19. People with disabilities often have many different service providers working with them which increases the risk of spreading COVID-19 to them. 
  • Direct service providers, caregivers, and teachers are in the same risk category for COVID-19 as other healthcare workers. 
  • People with disabilities are at higher risk of getting COVID-19, becoming very sick, and dying. 
  • People get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19.
  • The vaccine makes it easier for your body to fight COVID-19 should you still become infected. If it is easier for your body to fight infection, then you can resume your job sooner.
  • COVID-19 is dangerous. The vaccine is not. The effects of COVID-19 can make you and those you care for very sick and even cause death. The side effects of a vaccine are temporary, if you experience any at all (Source 10 – Rosenblum et al., 2021)
  • It is important to protect yourself and those you work with by getting vaccinated. Vaccination can keep you and the people you care for out of harm from COVID-19 (Source 34 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).
  • For more information, please see the CDC’s guidance for Direct Service Providers.

Getting vaccinated and staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine will protect you and those you care for with disabilities.

If you have any questions at all about the vaccine, please talk with your doctor to decide what’s best for you.

If you need help, the South Carolina Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046 can help you schedule your vaccine and booster.

I’ve already had COVID-19, so why should I get the vaccine?

It is possible to become sick with COVID-19 more than once. Research shows getting vaccinated and staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines will protect you from COVID-19 better than natural immunity (Source 24 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). 

  • After getting sick with COVID-19, you may have “natural immunity.”
  • Natural immunity from COVID-19 happens when your body produces antibodies to fight off COVID-19 after you have been exposed to or gotten sick with the virus.
  • This natural immunity does not last very long.
  • Natural immunity may not protect you from COVID-19 variants (Source 39 – Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2021).
  • Although getting COVID-19 lowers your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 if you catch it again, there is never zero risk. It is always better to avoid getting sick again.  
  • Every time you catch COVID-19 you increase your risk of health issues. Getting sick over and over can continue to add to the overall harm you experience from COVID-19 (Source 89 – Mckeever, 2022). 
  • Getting sick with COVID-19 more than once means there is another chance for you to get long COVID (Source 89 – Mckeever, 2022). 
  • Long COVID is when someone experiences symptoms at least 4 weeks after getting COVID-19.
    • Long COVID symptoms are different from person to person. It can be hard to explain or manage. Living with long COVID can be stressful. It can be stressful because long COVID is a disability that could make it difficult or impossible for you to work, go to school, or enjoy the things you like to do.
    • There are no quick solutions or answers to long COVID as more research is needed. Common symptoms can include
      • Weakness that affects your daily life 
      • Difficulty breathing 
      • Coughing 
      • Chest pain 
      • Brain fog (confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus and mental clarity)
      • Change in smell or taste 
    • The best way to avoid getting long COVID is not to get COVID in the first place. (Source 76 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022)
  • Get your COVID-19 vaccine and booster to protect yourself and your community.

What does it mean to be up-to-date on my COVID-19 vaccine??

  • COVID-19 booster shots are doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that will make sure your first round of vaccine is strong for a longer amount of time.
  • It is common for vaccines to get weaker over time.
  • This could mean you’re less protected against virus variants. These variants can be easier to get and spread than the original virus.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe sickness, keep you out of the hospital, and prevent death. Getting your COVID-19 vaccine can help keep you safe from Long COVID as well.
  • Even though vaccines work, we are starting to see less protection against getting sick (Source 13 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). Booster shots add the protection you need. Getting your vaccine and booster shots at the right time will help you stay up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine. Use our timeline in this FAQ to help you know when the best time to get your vaccine is, or talk to your doctor.
  • People with disabilities are at more risk of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19. Getting booster shots can help protect you better.
  • Many vaccines that you had in the past include booster shots. You get booster shots after your first chickenpox, tetanus, mumps and measles, and other vaccines.
    • People with disabilities are at more risk of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19. Getting booster shots can help protect you and the people with disabilities around you, better.
  • Talk to your doctor about which booster shots are right for you, and when is the best time to get one.

How do I schedule my COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots?

The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can help you schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment and answer any questions you may have. We can also do the same for the people you assist.

  • The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can help people with disabilities, their families, and their caregivers.
  • You can reach the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046. 

It is also possible to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine online or by phone through your local health department or pharmacy. In South Carolina, you can search for vaccine locations at the DHEC Vaccine Locator (Source 19 – South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, n.d.). If you need help, the South Carolina Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046 can help you schedule your vaccine and booster.

Barriers: Don’t let these stop you from getting vaccinated.

COST: I have a fixed income. What is the vaccination going to cost me?

Are the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots free?     

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are 100% free to all people in the United States. The vaccines are free because the federal government has agreed to pay back providers of COVID-19 vaccines (Source 44 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). 

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are completely free to people with and without health insurance (Source 45 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).

It is against the law for someone giving the vaccine to:

  • Charge you money for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.
  • Charge you money for any fees, co-pays, or coinsurance.
  • Refuse to give you a COVID-19 vaccine or booster because you have no health insurance or are out of network.
  • Charge you money for an office visit if the only service was a COVID-19 vaccination or booster.
  • Require that you get any other services when receiving a COVID-19 vaccine or booster. If you do get other services, those services can be billed as usual.

If someone tells you that you need to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine, you can contact the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046. 

You can also report the person or office to the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS or the website TIPS.HHS.GOV (Source 46 – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2021).              

Do I get paid leave for missing work to get the vaccine or boosters?

No. In South Carolina, employers do not have to give paid leave so that employees can get vaccinated and boosted. 

  • The American Rescue Plan Act offered to pay back employers for paid leave.
  • This repayment applied to companies with less than 500 employees.
  • Not every company decided to take this funding and it is too late for companies to get it now (Source 47 – U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2021).

Until these issues are decided, ask your employer if they offer paid leave or help to get the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters. If your employer does not offer paid leave, you should still make a plan to get your shots. You can get help making your vaccine plan from the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046. 

The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Network can help pay you back for the costs of transportation to your vaccine and booster appointments.

TRANSPORTATION: I don’t have a car or don’t drive. How am I supposed to get a vaccine?

  • You can ride The COMET for free to take you to your vaccine appointment. DART by appointment and Fixed Route services are free if you are traveling to get a vaccine. The V-TRIP and PUP programs are already subsidized so there is no additional discount. Visit the COMET website to view the major vaccination locations and corresponding COMET routes. You may need to show proof of your vaccine appointment to the bus operator.
  • Lyft is making it possible for users to pay for rides for others to get their vaccines. If you are in need of a free ride, visit this page and scroll down to select “get a ride.” You will then complete an online screening to find out if you qualify.
  • Uber is offering rides to and from your vaccine through their partner, Go Go Grandparent.  To book your ride, visit the Go Go Grandparent website to sign up, or call 1 (800) 227-3958 to sign up, then call back and press 0 to speak to an operator and book your ride. These rides are not free.
  • The AARP Ride at Fifty Plus program offers rides to those fifty and older that can be used to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Call (855) 955-1926 to learn more or book your ride. These rides are not free.
  • The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can also help you arrange transportation. You can reach the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046.

ACCESSIBILITY: I’m worried I won’t be able to access the vaccine site due to my disability.

The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can help you find sites that are accessible to your needs. You can reach the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046. 

Have you been to a vaccine site that was or was not accessible to you? We encourage you to report it so our hotline workers can inform other people with disabilities!

Your local health department has to give in-home vaccines and boosters if you can not leave your home to get your shots (Source 50 – Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990).

What accessibility accommodations can I ask for as a person with a disability? 

Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, people with disabilities are guaranteed certain accommodations when getting their COVID-19 vaccine (Source 50 – Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990).  These accommodations include

  • Vaccine sites that are accessible to people with physical disabilities.
  • Access to American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters.
  • Vaccine materials that include accessible formats, including
    • Braille
    • Large print
    • Digital
    • Plain language/easy read
  • Access to in-home vaccines and booster shots

If you have not been given access to accommodations at a vaccination site, please contact the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046, and let us know.

I am unable to leave my home. How will I get vaccinated and boosted?

SC DHEC is offering in-home vaccination in all South Carolina counties.

  • You can call DHEC’s Vaccine Information Line to schedule an appointment, or the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can contact them with you. 
  • You can call the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046.
  • You can call DHEC’s Care Line at 1-855-472-3432 on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. 
  • The phone operator will ask you for your name, address, and date of birth, over the phone.
  • This information will be given to the vaccine provider. Someone who works for the provider should contact you within 2 weeks to schedule your appointment (Source 51 – South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, 2021).

Rights: What are my rights to access vaccines?

People with disabilities have many laws that protect our rights. These rights mean that people cannot treat you badly just because of who you are as a person with a disability. You have the same rights to vaccines and boosters as people without disabilities. 

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that you cannot be treated unfairly because you have a disability. The ADA requires public and state agencies to provide accommodations, so people with disabilities have the same access to services as people without disabilities. The ADA also requires that agencies make sure that these accommodations are available for people with disabilities to get information in a way that meets their needs. These accommodations include any type of equipment to provide services and accessible technology like websites (Source 50 – Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990).
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that protects people with disabilities from being treated unfairly because of their disability. This law applies to organizations that get money from any Federal department or agency, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This includes many hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers, and human service programs (Source 52 – Rehabilitation Act, 1973).
  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is a national law that states that federal agencies have to provide information in a way that is accessible to everyone with disabilities. If you need information differently because of your disability, federal agencies have to provide it (Source 52 – Rehabilitation Act, 1973).
  • Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act states that you cannot be treated unfairly because of your race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. This protection includes making sure language help is available for people who speak limited English and making sure there are accommodations for people with disabilities to have access to services (Source 54 – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2010).

If you were not treated fairly because of your disability, please contact the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046.

BIPOC: Are you a member of the BIPOC community?

Secure Your Shot: How do I Schedule my COVID-19 Vaccine & Booster Shot?

The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can help you schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment. You can reach the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046.

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Katella, K. (2022, October 20). Novavax’s COVID-19 Vaccine: Your Questions Answered. Yale Medicine. Retrieved October 31, 2022, from https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/novavax-covid-vaccine

 

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, July 11). Patient Tips: Healthcare Provider Appointments for Post-COVID Conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 8, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/post-covid-appointment/index.htm

 

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National Council on Disability. (2021, October 29). The Impact of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities. National Council on Disability. Retrieved August 23, 2022 from https://ncd.gov/sites/default/files/NCD_COVID-19_Progress_Report_508.pdf 

 

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, August 22). CDC Recommends Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine for Adolescents. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from  https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/s0822-novax-vaccine.html

 

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Cunningham, J. (2022, February 7). Study shows persistent antibodies in infants after COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy. Massachusetts General Hospital. Retrieved August 31, 2022 from https://www.massgeneral.org/news/press-release/study-shows-persistent-antibodies-in-infants-after-covid-19-vaccination-in-pregnancy 

 

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Jamieson, D. and Rasmusse, S. (2022, July 14). Covid-19 Vaccination during Pregnancy — Two for the Price of One. The New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved August 31, 2022 from https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2206730 

 

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 1). Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions. Retrieved November 2, 2022 from  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html 

 

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Schedule Your Vaccine

Become A Champion in Your Community

Let’s protect ourselves, our family, friends, and others in the community against getting sick with COVID-19.

It can be hard to know where to find  information and help to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The SC Disability Vaccine Access Network is here to help people with disabilities and friends of the disability community plan the steps needed to get the shot, and feel confident that they have made a personal, informed decision to get the vaccine. 

Logo for DHEC

SC Department of Health and Environmental Control

Make an appointment through the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) website using their vaccine locator. 

DHEC has launched a Homebound Vaccination Program to all 46 counties. One caregiver per provider is also eligible to receive a vaccine. CALL: 1-866-365-8110 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday. You will need to tell them your name, date of birth, and address to the call line operator. The operator will connect you with either RRT or LTS as the vaccine provider. A person from the provider will then call you back within a few days to schedule an appointment.

South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline

If you are not able to book an appointment online or want to get more information about the vaccine, give us a call at the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline (1-800-787-6046) to talk to our team about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Through the hotline we can:

  • Address any concerns you might have about getting the vaccine
  • Help you find a trusted medical professional 
  • Assist with vaccine appointment scheduling
  • Navigate transportation to get your vaccine
  • Answer some of the most common disability-related questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, and more. 
Disclaimer: The staff of the Disability Vaccine Access Hotline are not licensed medical providers. They are unable to offer medical advice about the best vaccine for you or tell you  how the vaccine may affect you or your family.

 

Call the Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046

Vaccine Champions

There are champions in South Carolina who have made the decision to get their vaccine to protect themselves and the community. Hear why they made the choice to secure their shot.

Resources

Help us spread the word among individuals and friends of the disability community about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine. Check out the resources below for more information on the vaccine, or download our campaign social media graphics and share them on your social media.

Report Your Accessible Site

Tell us about your accessibility experience at your vaccination site! All content will be shared with the SC Disability Vaccination Hotline to help others determine which site suits their individual needs.

Report a Denial

Were you denied a vaccine because of your disability? Call Disability Rights South Carolina for assistance immediately!

Call (866) 275-7273 to report a denial.

Vaccine Appointment Transportation

You can ride The COMET for free to take you to your vaccine appointment. DART by appointment and Fixed Route services are free if you are traveling to get a vaccine. The V-TRIP and PUP programs are already subsidized so there is no additional discount. Visit the COMET website to view the major vaccination locations and corresponding COMET routes. You may need to show proof of your vaccine appointment to the bus operator.

Lyft is making it possible for users to pay for rides for others to get their vaccines. If you are in need of a free ride, visit this page and scroll down to select “get a ride.” You will then complete an online screening to find out if you qualify.

Uber is offering rides to and from your vaccine through their partner, Go Go Grandparent.  To book your ride, visit the Go Go Grandparent website to sign up or call 1 (800) 227-3958 to sign up, then call back and press 0 to speak to an operator and book your ride. These rides are not free.

The AARP Ride at Fifty Plus program offers rides to those fifty and older that can be used to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Call (855) 955-1926 to learn more or book your ride. These rides are not free.

The South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline can also help you arrange transportation. You can reach the South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline at 1-800-787-6046.

Updated 8/8/2022

Funders and Partners

South Carolina Disability Vaccine Access Hotline 1-800-787-6046

The SC Disability Vaccine Access Network is operated by Able South Carolina, Disability Rights South Carolina, South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council, and The University of South Carolina’s Center for Disability Resources within the School of Medicine. Special thanks to additional partners, Accessibility, Walton Options for Independent Living, and Family Connection of South Carolina. The SC Disability Vaccine Network is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Community Living, and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Contact Able SC

720 Gracern Rd, Suite 106, Columbia, SC 29210  |  advocacy@able-sc.org

Disclaimer:

The staff of the SC Disability Vaccine Access Network are not licensed medical providers.  They are unable to offer medical advice about the best vaccine for you or predict how the vaccine may affect you or your family. Please talk to your doctor when making informed medical decisions.