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Answers to your top COVID-19 vaccine questions

2 On Your Side took your most common questions about the coronavirus vaccine and got answers.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — We know you have a lot of questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, and you've been sending them our way over the past few weeks since the rollout began. We've taken the most popular questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, and we got answers to help you figure out when and where you can get it.

We start with a big one:

"How do I register for, or make an appointment, to get the vaccine?"

First, check if you're eligible. You do that on the state's website by filling out a form. You'll also answer a bunch of questions about your work and living situations, and it will let you know if you're in Phase 1A or Phase 1B.

If you are, you can make an appointment at one of the state's vaccination sites online, or by calling the state's vaccination hotline.

The Erie County Department of Health's 1B appointments are full through the end of the month, but you can fill out a form online to be notified when more open up.

And, you can also go to pharmacy websites to make appointments.

In Niagara County, you can make an appointment for one of the county sites online, or you can call 211 if you don't have internet at home.

It might be different for your county. So, bottom line, go to the state's COVID-19 website, your county health department's website, or a pharmacy's website to sign up.

"How much does it cost?"

US taxpayers are footing the bill, so while we are paying for it, it won't cost you anything when get your shot. Providers can charge an administration fee, but the CDC says your insurance will cover that. If you don't have insurance, the federal government picks up the tab.

"How many doses of the vaccine is my county or region getting?"

That's based on population, and supplies are limited. According to the state, New York is only getting around 300,000 doses a week from the federal government. Next week, Gov. Cuomo says NYS will receive 250,000. From there, it gets divided up for the counties based on population.

"How can I be notified when the vaccine is available?"

Fill out the forms on the state, county, and pharmacy websites to get a call, text or email when you're able to sign up.

"Why is one group getting the vaccine before another group?"

New York State is basing eligibility on CDC guidelines which say health care personnel and long-term care facility residents are in Phase 1A, and people 65 and older and certain non-health care frontline essential workers are in 1B.

"What are the side effects?"

According to the CDC, common side effects are pain and swelling on the arm where you get the shot, and fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. It might feel like you have the flu, but should go away in a few days.

"What can you expect from the second dose?"

The same. The CDC says it's normal and shows your body is building protection and that you should get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first one, unless a vaccination provider or doctor tells you not to.

"Can I get two doses of different vaccines?"

In the US, there are two vaccines available right now from Pfizer and Moderna. The CDC recommends "persons initiating the series with one COVID-19 vaccine complete the series with the same product."

"How long after getting the COVID vaccine am I protected?"

The CDC says it doesn't know how long immunity lasts after vaccination "until we have more data on how well COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions."

"Have specific leaders received the vaccine?"

President-Elect Joe Biden has.

Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn't yet. He's under 65, and says he will get it once the vaccine is available for his group in Black, Hispanic, and poor communities around the state.

"Now that 7-million New Yorkers are allowed to get the vaccine, how many of us have been vaccinated?"

According to the USA Today vaccine tracker, just 3.5% of New Yorkers, under 700,000 people, have gotten the first shot so far. That puts us in the middle of the pack.

Have a question about the COVID-19 vaccine? Let us know.

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