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ARHS COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The State of North Carolina has chosen Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), along with local health departments, to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in the High Country. ARHS is focusing on our large group of established patients, and health departments are focusing on the general public. We are committed to working together with local organizations to ensure that the largest number possible are vaccinated.

Vaccines are being received from the state in limited quantities each week. The challenge is that we do not always know how many will be delivered or when. We ask for patience and understanding as we work together to vaccinate the most vulnerable among us and move through the entire population.

Eligible Now

NC is currently in Group 2

  • Group1: Frontline healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 and long-term care residents and staff
  • Group 2: Anyone 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation
Eligible Next

Group 3: Frontline essential workers

The CDC defines frontline essential workers as workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and who are at substantially higher risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Eligible in the Future

Group 4: Adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness

  • Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID-19 such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation.
  • Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function.
  • Essential workers not yet vaccinated. The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers) and public health workers.

Group 5: Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination

If you are a patient of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, register here to be notified when you are eligible> 

The Journey of a Vaccine

Federal Government

The federal government sends periodic allotments of the vaccine to the State of North Carolina.

State of North Carolina

The State of North Carolina sends allotments of vaccines to local health departments and health systems who have been chosen to distribute the vaccine. Local distributors may not know ahead of time how many doses they will receive or exactly when they will receive them.

Local Vaccinations

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare), and Toe River Health Department (Avery County)  have been chosen to distribute vaccines in the High Country.

They schedule vaccination clinics for those eligible under the State of NC’s rollout plan. They will partner with other organizations who have the infrastructure, staff, and volunteers to facilitate clinics. For example, Samaritan’s Purse and Boone Drug, among others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t see your question here? Visit the NCDHHS website for more FAQ >


Who should get the vaccine?

Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Yes. It is strongly recommended that persons 16 years of age and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

If I currently have or have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Vaccination is recommended to persons regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.   Vaccination should be deferred until recovery from acute illness and criteria to discontinue isolation have been met.

There is no minimal interval between infection and vaccination, however, current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Persons with documented acute infection in the preceding 90 days may defer vaccination until the end of this period.

Are children able to get the vaccine?

Not yet. Children will not receive vaccines until clinical trials are completed to ensure the vaccines are safe and work to prevent COVID illness in children. The Pfizer vaccine can be given to teenagers 16 years old and up now, and they are doing additional studies with children 12 and over.

I have a condition that makes my immune system weak; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Specific guidelines stating who should not receive the vaccine have not been released yet. Until specific guidelines are published we suggest you reach out to your primary care provider or specialist for guidance.

I have a history of allergies; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you know you have a severe allergy (e.g. anaphylaxis) to any component of any of the COVID-19 vaccines do not get the vaccine at this time.

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or injectable therapy, you may still receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please alert you vaccinator if this is the case.

If you have a history of environmental, food, oral medication, latex, etc. allergies you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

I previously received monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19, can I get vaccinated?

Vaccination should be deferred for at least 90 days to avoid interference of the treatment with vaccine-induced immune responses.

About the Vaccine

How do the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work?

There is no COVID-19 in the vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines give your body instructions to make a kind of protein. This protein safely tricks your body into thinking the virus is attacking. Your body then strengthens itself to fight off the real COVID-19 if it ever tries to attack you. Your body gets rid of the small protein naturally and quickly.

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine will also not affect the results of viral tests. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination and efficacy is higher after the second dose. This means it is possible to be infected with the virus just after vaccination. Continue to wear your mask, social distance, and practice good hand hygiene.

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effect of the vaccine is a sore arm and injection site redness.  Other common side effects that occurred in the trial were headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and chills.  These were mostly mild/moderate symptoms and lasted on average of 2 days after the first injection and 3 days after the second injection.   There were no anaphylactic or severe hypersensitivity reactions related to the vaccine in the trial. If symptoms last longer than 72 hours, or you have more serious symptoms, contact your doctor.

Are there any long-term side effects?

Since all COVID-19 vaccines are new, more time will be needed to determine possible long-term effects. However, current findings do suggest that the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks of getting infected with the virus itself.

Some of the long-term concerns with developing Coronavirus include (but are not limited to): inflammation of the heart muscle, lung function abnormalities, acute kidney injury, Blood clots and strokes, rash or hair loss, loss of smell and taste, sleep abnormalities, or depression.

When you receive the vaccine

Do I need 2 doses?

Yes. The Pfizer vaccine requires 2 doses 21 days apart and the Moderna vaccine requires 2 doses 28 days apart. Both doses are necessary to provide the best protection.

Can my 2 doses be with vaccines made by different companies?

No. These vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or any other brand of COVID-19 vaccine.  You should receive the same vaccine for dose #2 that you did for dose #1.

How do I report side effects?

All recipients of the vaccine should to enroll in v-safe. This is a smartphone tool you can use to tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If you report serious side effects, someone from CDC will call to follow up. Information on v-safe can be found here: Side effects can be reported online through a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Can I get another vaccine at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine?

Current information suggests not getting other vaccines within 14 days of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

I received my vaccine, can I stop wearing my mask now?

No. The best protection will not occur until a couple weeks after the second dose. It is also important to understand that no vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccinated persons should still follow all guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety.