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COVID-19 vaccine: Top 5 questions answered

One month ago, the first COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in the Triad. Since then, there've been a lot of changes - and even more questions.

Every day, we get dozens of questions from WFMY News 2 viewers about the COVID-19 vaccine and its rollout. So, we've compiled the top 5 questions - and got answers from experts. 

Question: Who qualifies for the vaccine right now?

Answer: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services simplified its vaccine distribution timeline. It's now comprised of five groups. Right now, only frontline healthcare workers, nursing home residents and employees, and older adults, are eligible. You can see the full breakdown here

Question: When can people 65 and older sign up?

Answer: North Carolinians ages 65 and older can now get the COVID-19 vaccine, North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced Thursday during a task force press briefing.  As soon as appointment lines are open, anyone in this category qualifies, but many counties say they don't have enough supplies.

Question: Once it's my turn - how do I sign up?

Answer: Although some counties hosted drive-thru vaccination events without an appointment, now, you'll likely need to call ahead and reserve an spot through your county health department or hospital. Again, supplies are very limited and you'll likely have to wait. 

In Forsyth County, phone lines are close - but they're still filling appointments. 

"We have taken the 50,000 people that called last week and they were put on a call log," said Public Health Director Joshua Swift, "If they called, they didn't even have to leave a message. We're working through those calls."

Question: Is it safe? Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

Answer: Medical experts say, yes, it's safe - and no, you cannot get COVID-19 from it, though you might experience mild side effects, like a sore arm or a headache. Here's how it works, according to Dr. Mandy Cohen. 

"Vaccines use mRNA to give the cells in your body the instructions to make a protein that safely teaches your body to make antibodies to fight the real COVID-19," she said.

Question: When does immunity to COVID-19 kick in, after getting the vaccine?

Answer: "You won't be fully immune to COVID-19 until one or two weeks after your second vaccine," said Dr. Cohen. 

Scientists are still trying to figure out how long immunity lasts, but they emphasize vaccines are the way to return to normalcy.