COVID-19 Communications Toolkit for Health Centers
Updated June 1, 2022
Building confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines among health center staff and patients takes many different forms of communication and outreach. It’s important to show empathy and respond without judgment to people’s questions about the vaccines.
NACHC developed these resources to provide health center staff with tools for explaining the COVID-19 vaccines and promoting vaccination among staff, patients, and the community. Scroll down for key vaccine messages, FAQs, sample social media posts and graphics, sample vaccine clinic media advisories, and “I Got Vaccinated” selfie signs.
For materials and graphics tailored for specific audiences, visit COVID-19 Vaccine Education Resources from Outside Organizations. For rapid-response messaging guidance on new questions related to COVID-19, check out the resources from the Public Health Communications Collaborative.
Key Messages and FAQs
THE COVID-19 VACCINE IS THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR COMMUNITY AGAINST THE VIRUS. IF YOU ARE UNVACCINATED KNOW HOW YOU AND YOUR FAMILY CAN STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY.
5 Main Messages:
1. The COVID-19 vaccine is most effective in preventing serious illness and death from the virus.
- The vaccine remains the best tool for preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19 and reducing the spread of the virus, including disease caused by Delta and other variants.
- Nearly all cases of severe illness, hospitalization, and death continue to occur among those not yet vaccinated.
- After a thorough review of safety data, the Food and Drug Administration’s approval (FDA) granted the first COVID-19 vaccine full approval based on clinical testing. The FDA’s approval provides even more evidence that the vaccines are safe.
- If you are fully vaccinated and become infected with the virus, the vaccine can protect you from becoming seriously ill.
- If you have any questions about the effectiveness of the vaccine, the most trusted source of information is your health care provider.
2. Additional doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone age 12 years and older, regardless of what vaccine you initially received.
- A “booster dose” is an additional dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who presumably built enough protection after vaccination, but then that protection may decrease over time.
- Booster doses are recommended for everyone age 12 years and older. All boosters may be given 5 months after getting their primary series.
- If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, an additional vaccine is recommended for adults ages 18 years and older who were vaccinated 2 or more months ago.
- Teenagers aged 12 and up who received the Pfizer vaccine are also eligible to get a booster. They may only get the Pfizer vaccine booster.
- If you are eligible and are an adult 18 years and older, you may now choose which vaccine you receive as an additional dose.
- Adults ages 50 and older and some immunocompromised people are now eligible to get a second booster dose at least 4 months after their first booster. For more information visit CDC guidance on COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
- All three vaccines continue to protect against serious illness and death.
- Everyone’s immunity decreases over time whether you were infected with the virus, or you received a vaccine to protect you from the virus.
- Booster doses are common for many vaccines. Doctors who developed the COVID-19 vaccines continue to watch closely for signs of decreasing immunity. They watch for how well the vaccines protect against new mutations of the virus, and how that data differs across age groups and risk factors.
- FDA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continue work to understand how COVID-19 changes over time, and they will continue to monitor and make updates to the recommendations they publish to help people stay safe.
3. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way for you to protect your children from more dangerous forms of the virus.
- The vaccine is now available for young children ages 5-11 years old and all teens.
- The vaccine is over 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5-11 years old.
- The vaccine is very safe to give to children. After getting the COVID-19 vaccine, children may have some side effects similar to adults and with other vaccines. These are normal signs that the body is building protection and will go away in a few days.
- You can protect your children from more contagious forms of the virus which can be serious in children leading to hospitalization and/or long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms.
- Vaccination can help children stay in school safely, reconnect with friends, and get the education they deserve.
- Like adults, children should continue to wear a mask in public indoor settings or when interacting in crowded areas, even outdoors, and when around people who don’t live in their household.
- Talk to your health care provider on how you can best protect your children from COVID-19, their risks for getting the virus, and if they are able to get the vaccine.
- Children 6 months and older should receive the flu vaccine and other vaccines on their regular schedule as recommended by the CDC. It is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine along with any other routine vaccine including the flu vaccine.
- Many kids are behind on their regular vaccinations due to missed checkups during the pandemic. Getting more than one vaccine per visit lets them catch up on vaccinations.
4. If you are unvaccinated, follow recommended steps to reduce your risk of getting the virus.
- If you are unvaccinated, talk with your health care provider to discuss ways to stay safe and healthy and to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19.
- Always follow the advice of your health care provider because there is a lot of misinformation which can put you at higher risk of becoming ill from the virus.
- If you are not fully vaccinated, you should wear a mask in indoor public places. If possible, maintain 6 feet of distance between you and people who do not live in your home.
- Do things to ensure you are staying safe:Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid crowds and spaces with poor ventilation
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Monitor your health daily. Be alert for symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath.
- Get a flu shot or other vaccines you may need as soon as you can. You can get the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.
- If you have a condition that prevents you from getting the vaccine at this point, it is recommended you get the vaccine as soon as you’re medically able.
5. Following inaccurate information about COVID-19 and the vaccine can increase your risk of exposure to the virus.
- You need to be aware that there is a lot of misinformation shared on social media and on the Internet about COVID-19 and the vaccine.
- Stop and investigate the source of the information you read and trust and ask your health care provider about it.
- Community health centers have administered millions of vaccines and health center staff can help you find trusted information.
COVID-19 Vaccination Frequently Asked Questions & Responses for Health Center Staff to Use in Communications with Patients
Is the mRNA vaccine considered a vaccine?
Yes. mRNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, still create an immune response inside your body, but they work a little differently than other vaccines. This type of vaccine is new, but research and development on it has been under way for decades. The mRNA vaccines do not contain any live virus. The COVID-19 vaccines work by teaching our immune system to recognize cells that do not belong there and to respond to get rid of them. When an immune response begins, antibodies are produced.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
Yes. Based on data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant now or in the future. Data show that pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill if infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people, and the highly contagious Delta variant makes it even more important for eligible people to get vaccinated.
There is no evidence to show that getting a vaccine increases the risk of miscarriage. There is also no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines. There has been extensive safety monitoring of the COVID-19 vaccines, including analysis of vaccination during pregnancy.
Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy or while breastfeeding protect my baby from COVID-19?
Antibodies made after a pregnant person received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine have been found in umbilical cord blood, which means that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy might help protect babies against COVID-19. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breast milk, which could help protect their babies.
Should people get a seasonal flu shot? Will the seasonal flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine interact in harmful ways?
It is more important than ever to protect against influenza, which, like COVID-19, is a respiratory illness. Vaccination for the flu is critical to help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the general population and lower the resulting burden on the healthcare system during the pandemic. You can get the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.
Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine cause me to test positive for SARS-Co-2 virus?
No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive for the virus.
If vaccines work, why do some vaccinated people get COVID-19?
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing most infections. However, like other vaccines, they are not 100% effective. A vaccine breakthrough infection happens when a fully vaccinated person gets infected with SARS-Co-2. People with vaccine breakthrough infections may spread COVID-19 to others. Even if you are fully vaccinated, if you live in an area with high transmission of COVID-19, you – as well as your family and community – will be better protected if you wear a mask when you are in indoor public places. This is particularly important in cases where people do not develop enough immunity because they have or have had other medical conditions.
Who is eligible to receive a booster?
The COVID-19 vaccine is given in a series of doses. A booster is an additional dose of the vaccine. Additional doses are available for everyone ages 5 years and older.
- Adults ages 18 years and older who received their second dose of the vaccine at least 5 months ago are eligible for a booster dose.
- For people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, an additional dose is recommended for adults ages 18 years and older who were vaccinated two or more months ago
- Teenagers aged 5 and older who received the Pfizer vaccine are also eligible to get a booster. They may only get the Pfizer vaccine booster.
- Adults ages 50 and older and some immunocompromised people are now eligible to get a second Pfizer or Moderna booster does at least 4 months after their first booster. This would be the fourth shot in their series.
If the vaccines are effective, why do I need more than one dose?
Vaccines are sometimes given in a series of doses to help develop the body’s immune response against the virus. All three vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, continue to protect against serious illness and death. Additional doses of the vaccine have been approved and these will be made available as soon as possible.
Why is there a lot of reporting of adverse reactions to the vaccine?
Anyone can submit a report to the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System known as VAERS. VAERS tracks all submitted information about adverse reactions. Adverse reactions are monitored closely. Some people may have mild side effects like soreness in the arm where the shot was given. This is an indication that the vaccine is working. These are normal and should go away in a few days. They are not adverse reactions.
Is it better to get natural immunity to COVID-19 rather than immunity from a vaccine?
No. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection lasts. Vaccination is the best protection, and it is safe. People who get COVID-19 can have serious illnesses, and some have debilitating symptoms that persist for months.
Social Media Graphics
Below find social media graphics and sample posts for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter addressing current vaccine issues, e.g., the value of boosters, vaccines for kids 5 and up, how to stay safe if you’re unvaccinated, pregnancy, and misinformation. Right-click on the image and save to your device.
Hashtags: Limit hashtags in tweets to 2-3. Consider using any relevant hashtags that are trending your area, in addition to these: #COVID19Vaccine, #ThisIsOurShot
Booster vaccines are available for many people
Facebook and Instagram
- Booster doses are recommended for everyone ages 12 years older who are fully vaccinated, regardless of what vaccine you initially received. Learn more: [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
- Adults age 50 and older and some immunocompromised people are now eligible to get a second Pfizer or Moderna booster dose (their fourth shot) at least 4 months after their first booster. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more & visit: [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
- If you received the J&J vaccine at least 2 months ago, you are eligible for any of the three booster dose options now. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more & visit [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
- We encourage everyone ages 12 and older who are eligible to get their COVID-19 boosters today. Learn more here: [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
Booster shots for all 3 #COVID19vaccines are now available to fully vaccinated adults. Talk to your healthcare provider & learn more here: [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE] #ThisIsOurShot
Adults 50+ and some immunocompromised people are now eligible to get a 2nd Pfizer or Moderna booster dose (their 4th shot) at least 4 months after their first booster. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more & visit. [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
The vaccine is now available for children 5+ years old
Facebook and Instagram
- COVID-19 vaccines are now available for kids 5 and older! Protect your kids & #StoptheSpread by getting them the COVID-19 vaccine. Got questions? Talk to your healthcare provider & visit [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
- Kids get COVID-19, too, causing severe illness in some cases. Did you know that kids five and older can now get the COVID-19 vaccine? It is safe, effective, and can protect your kids from severe illness. Got questions? Talk to your healthcare provider & visit [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
- Kids 5 and older are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine! Get your children vaccinated to protect them, help them stay safe at school, in social settings and with family and friends, and stop the spread of COVID-19. The vaccine is safe, effective & reduces the risk of serious illness. Learn more by talking with your healthcare provider or by visiting [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
Kids can get #COVID19 and easily spread it even if they don’t have symptoms. Give your kids ages 5+ the protection they deserve. Got questions? Talk to your healthcare provider or visit: [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE] #ThisIsOurShot #VaccinesSaveLives
Get the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time
Facebook and Instagram
Flu season is here! Everyone 6 months & older should get a flu shot. Even better? Everyone 5 and older can get their flu shot and #COVID19 vaccine at the same time. Both vaccines are safe, effective and protect you from a severe illness. Learn more and register for your vaccines today at [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
#FluSeason is here! Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot. If you’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine or booster, it is safe to get both vaccines on the same day. Learn more by visiting [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]. #VaccinesSaveLives
Pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines
Facebook and Instagram
Pregnant women face an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Studies show that getting a COVID-19 vaccine offers protection for pregnant women and their babies. Talk to your healthcare provider today about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Got questions? Learn the facts here: [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
Did you know pregnant women can also get the #COVID19vaccine? The vaccine is safe & effective throughout pregnancy. Protect yourself and your baby from severe illness caused by COVID-19. Learn more: [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE] #ThisIsOurShot.
Staying safe if unvaccinated
Facebook and Instagram
If you are unvaccinated, you must take steps to ensure you and your loved ones are staying safe:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Avoid crowds and spaces with poor ventilation
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
Monitor your health daily. Be alert for symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
For more tips about how to stay safe, visit [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
If you’re unvaccinated, it’s very important you take steps to protect yourself and everyone around you. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to protect yourself and keep your family safe. Learn more here: [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE] #COVID19.
Facebook and Instagram
Is your COVID-19 information coming from a source you don’t know? Inaccurate information about COVID-19 vaccines is spreading faster than the virus. You can help stop the spread of incorrect information by:
Only sharing content that you know is based on science
Speaking with medical professionals about COVID-19
Got questions about COVID-19 vaccines? We are here to help. Talk to your healthcare provider about the facts &learn more at [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE]
Misinformation is on the rise about COVID-19 vaccines. Trust your healthcare provider and talk to them about the science behind the vaccines. Learn more: [HEALTH CENTER WEBSITE] #ThisIsOurShot #VaccinesSaveLives
The Vaccine will not give you COVID-19
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
The vaccine will not give you COVID-19. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States uses the live virus that causes COVID-19. You may have symptoms like a fever after you get a vaccine. This is not uncommon and a sign that your immune system is learning how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about the facts behind COVID-19 vaccines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html
Selfie Signs: “I Got Vaccinated Because…”
Use these selfie signs — in English and Spanish — to encourage health center staff, providers, and patients to share why they got the vaccine.
- Print out and distribute to your staff and patients as they get vaccinated. (Customize the blank signs with your health center logo.)
- Take a photo of the vaccine recipient with their sign.
- Post on social media using #ThisIsOurShot and any other relevant hashtags your community is using and tag @NACHC.