After a year of living with COVID-19, Rhode Island is in one of the most important phases of the pandemic, with more and more people becoming eligible to receive the vaccine.

Health guidance and data continues to evolve, making it easier for misinformation to spread. 12 News reporter Alexandra Leslie took your questions and concerns to three local experts to clear things up and make sure everyone has access to the facts before deciding whether to get a shot.

Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health and one of the nation’s leading voices in the pandemic, addresses some of the myths going around about the vaccine, while Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Lifespan and Brown, answers some of the most frequently asked questions and Dr. Philip Chan, consultant medical director at the R.I. Department of Health, goes over the specifics that Rhode Islanders should know.

When will I be able to get the vaccine? How are certain populations being prioritized?

Anyone 60 and older in Rhode Island is now eligible to receive the vaccine, along with people 16 and older with certain medical conditions, health care workers, first responders, and people living in congregate care settings.

RI Vaccine Timeline » | Underlying Health Conditions »

The vaccine is free and no health insurance is required.

Where do I go to get vaccinated? How can Rhode Islanders sign up for an appointment?

To book an appointment at one of the state-run clinics, eligible Rhode Islanders can visit or call (844) 930-1779.

Schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment » | Sign up for the vaccine notification list »

Shots are also being administered at certain CVS Health and Walgreen’s pharmacy locations, and many cities and towns are setting up their own clinics for residents.

List: RI cities, towns launching COVID-19 vaccine clinics for residents »

Can I get the vaccine if I have had COVID-19?

Myth: The vaccines can give me COVID-19.

What are the known side effects and adverse reactions that can occur when I get the COVID-19 vaccine? Can you take pain relievers before and/or after the shot?

CDC: What to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine » | COVID-19 vaccine and allergic reactions »

Should I stop taking any medications before or after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Is it safe for pregnant women to receive a COVID-19 vaccine? Is it safe for breastfeeding mothers to get the vaccine?

Myth: The vaccine can cause women to become infertile or miscarry, and it can cause men to become sterile.

Read More: WHO changes course, says COVID vaccine is safe for pregnant women »

Should I get a COVID-19 test before or after getting the vaccine?

How and where to get tested in RI, Mass. »

If exposed, can you still contract COVID-19 even after getting partially or fully vaccinated?

Myth: I don’t need to wear a mask or practice social distancing if I get vaccinated.

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for emergency use at protecting against new COVID variants found in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa?

The Rhode Island Department of Health announced its first cases of the U.K. variant on Feb. 16, and later that day, neighboring Massachusetts detected the South African variant for the first time.

Myth: It matters which vaccine I get.

What are the differences between the vaccines currently authorized for emergency use (Pfizer and Moderna), and that may be authorized soon (Johnson & Johnson)?

Housebound? Let the state know you are interested in a vaccine delivery here »

Myth: The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) will alter my DNA.

Myth: There is a microchip in the COVID-19 vaccine.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed with fetal tissue and/or eggs.

If I’m getting a COVID-19 vaccine with a two-dose regimen, is it OK if the second dose is late?

Is it normal to feel worse after the second dose?

If I’m fully vaccinated, do I still need to quarantine if I’m exposed?

More Vaccine FAQ: R.I. Department of Health »

Myth: Natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity.

What would it take to accomplish herd immunity?

Why is Rhode Island not distributing its vaccine as soon as it’s delivered?

How are the vaccines approved at the federal and local level in Rhode Island? What is the R.I. COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee, and who is involved?

How did Rhode Island benefit from the pilot vaccine delivery program with Pfizer?

Rhode Island was one of four states chosen by the pharmaceutical company in November to help refine its plan for the delivery, deployment, and administration of the vaccine.

How does Rhode Island’s vaccine distribution compare to other New England states like Massachusetts or Connecticut?

Target 12: Harvard gives RI an ‘F’ for vaccine rollout so far; Mass. fails, too »

Final Word from Our Experts


Reporter – Alexandra Leslie
Executive Producer – Shaun Towne
Photographers/Editors – Alexandra Leslie
Graphic Designer – Lisa Mandarini
Special Thanks – Jen Quinn, James Bartone, Susan Tracy-Durant, Lee Dooley, Karen Rezendes

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