Michigan COVID-19 vaccines: how to get a shot, side effects, and more questions answered

For a year, COVID-19 has forced nearly everyone into a new way of living as scientists search for a vaccine and a way to help us return to some form of normalcy. 

Two months after the first vaccine was administered, over 20 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Until more people are able to be vaccinated, we must continue to wear a mask, wash hands regularly, socially distance, work from home (if possible), and take as many actions as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.

We know there are a lot of questions about the virus, testing, and vaccines. Below you will find answers to those questions and this page will be updated with more information as we get it.

Do I need to quarantine?

If you've been around someone with COVID-19, you need to quarantine for a maximum of two weeks and monitor for symptoms. However, this can be shorter. 

Once confirmed you were near someone with the virus, you should quarantine and get tested five days after encountering this person. If the test is negative, you can leave quarantine after day 7.

If you didn't get a test, you can leave quarantine after day 10.

After stopping quarantine, you should watch for symptoms for 14 days after exposure. If you notice symptoms - fever over 100.4, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms - you should self-isolate and contact your local health department.

However - if you've tested positive for the virus over the past three months before your exposure, you are not required to quarantine.

When and where can I get a COVID test?

When coronavirus first was spreading in the U.S. and Michigan in early 2020, it was hard to get a test. There were long waits to get tested and then ten days before the results came back. 

Now, however, testing is much faster with most results coming back the same day.

Tests are free. If you or someone you're close to has symptoms or works outside the home regularly, you should get a test.

Call the Michigan COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136, press 1.

You can also visit the state's website to find a testing site near you.

How to get a vaccine

Michigan local health departments will schedule vaccinations based on the county you live in. Not every county is scheduling vaccinations but the state says it will update the website daily for counties that are adding appointments.

A link to more information is also included where possible. For health departments outside of Southeast Michigan, visit the state's COVID-19 vaccine website.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on January 11 that Michigan is in Phase 1B but allows people who are 65 and older to get the vaccine plus frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure.

The next two phases,  1C and 2, are not likely to be in place until spring and summer.

Phase 1C: Individuals 16 years of age or older at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection and some other essential workers whose position impacts life, safety and protection during the COVID-19 response.

Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older.

How does the vaccine process work?

Currently, Michigan is in phase 1B of the vaccination process which is people who are 65 and older, essential workers, childcare, teachers, and congregate care facilities.

The preliminary timeline lists that other essential workers and people between the ages of 16-64 are slated to get a vaccine as early as the beginning of May.

All remaining essential workers are expected to gain access in July while the general population may not be able to get the vaccine until August.

That's subject to change as more vaccines are produced and more companies are approved to make and distribute the vaccine.

Will I need two shots?

For now, yes. But that won't always be true. As of the end of February, there are have been two vaccines approved by the FDA from Michigan-based Pfizer and Moderna.

Both of these vaccines require two doses with the second shot coming two or three weeks after the first dose.

The FDA is expected to approve Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine which would dramatically change how quickly the vaccines are rolled out. 

RELATED: FDA urges makers of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, treatments to adapt to coronavirus variants

If the FDA clears the J&J shot for U.S. use, it won’t boost vaccine supplies significantly right away. Only a few million doses are expected to be ready for shipping in the first week. But J&J told Congress this week that it expected to provide 20 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by summer.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must be kept frozen, while the J&J shot can last three months in the refrigerator, making it easier to handle. 

AstraZeneca's vaccine, widely used in Europe, Britain and Israel, is made similarly and also requires refrigeration but takes two doses.

European regulators and the World Health Organization also are considering J&J’s vaccine. Worldwide, the company aims to be producing around a billion doses by the end of the year.

Vaccine side effects

There are three common side-effects to the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC, specifically pain, fatigue, and a low-grade fever.

These symptoms tend to pop up in most after the second dose.

It's not the virus. It's your body building an immune response to the protein that mimics the disease.

For those who do experience vaccine side effects, the CDC advises placing a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the injection site should one experience pain, while also recommending to "use or exercise your arm" to reduce any discomfort. The federal agency also advises to "drink plenty of fluids" and "dress lightly" in the case of a fever. 

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.