Getting vaccinated against COVID-19

6. FAQ on vaccination against COVID-19

 

Are you still hesitating to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Do you still have questions regarding vaccination?
The FAQs below cover the most frequently asked questions. They should help you make your choice.

Vaccination

Why is is important to get vaccinated against COVID-19 ?

Vaccination helps to protect yourself and to protect other people.

While a coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infection is most often a less severe form of COVID-19 for adults and children, the illness is more often worse for vulnerable people (ie. elderly people or people with an underlying health condition such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular or pulmonary disease, cancer, immunosuppressive diseases and the treatment of them).

COVID-19 can cause severe complications and consequences, requiring long-term hospitalisation and, in some cases, the need for intensive care. COVID-19 can also be fatal. This is why it is therefore important to get vaccinated.

The Federal Office of Public Health, the Federal Commission for Vaccinations, cantonal doctors, the Swiss societies of doctors and specialists recommend vaccination.
 

How long must one wait between vaccine doses ?

  • For Pfizer/BioNTech's Comirnaty® vaccine, a minimum of 21 days between the two doses is required to obtain the COVID certificate.

  • For Moderna's Spikevax® vaccine, a minimum of 28 days between the two doses is required to obtain the COVID certificate.

For both of these vaccines, however, there is no longer a maximum period between the two doses.

When registering for the vaccination, the second vaccination appointment is allocated according to the above deadlines but it is always possible to change the date of the second vaccination appointment, extending the deadline to 6 to 8 weeks after the first dose.

It should be noted that between the two doses, there is no 100% immunity, and it is therefore essential to continue to respect the rules of hygiene and conduct (interpersonal distances, wearing a mask, washing hands, etc.) to avoid any risk of contamination.

It should be noted that between the two doses, there is no 100% immunity, and it is therefore essential to continue to respect the rules of hygiene and conduct (interpersonal distances, wearing a mask, washing hands, etc.) to avoid any risk of contamination.

Available since Thursday 7 October in Geneva, the Johnson & Johnson Janssen® vaccine is characterised by a single dose injection. 

 

If I have had COVID, do I need to get vaccinated?

Currently, a person who has been infected is protected for six months after a proven COVID-19 illness,  documented by a positive test (PCR or antigen) or by serological evidence (IgG anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies), because he or she has produced his or her own antibodies against the virus. This is called natural immunity. 

After a positive COVID-19 test, a single dose between 4 weeks and 3 months after infection is recommended for effective protection for all recovered persons, or as soon as possible if the three months have elapsed. Indeed, administering a vaccine dose soon after illness can help increase protection against infections with new variants such as Delta.

A second dose is nevertheless recommended for immuno-suppressed people and is available to those who wish to receive it.

If one falls ill with COVID-19 between the two vaccine doses, then the second dose should be postponed and administered between 4 weeks to 3 months after the infection.
 

Can I receive other vaccines after an mRNA injection against COVID-19?

As with all other non-live vaccines, there is no minimum time interval between the administration of an mRNA vaccine and another vaccine. This is especially true for influenza vaccination.

 

I received my first vaccine dose abroad. Can I get my second shot in Geneva?

Yes, if you are eligible for vaccination in Geneva (see eligibility requirements), you can receive your second dose in Geneva, if the vaccine of your first dose is recognised in Switzerland (Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty® and Moderna Spikevax®) and AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria® (CH1DoX1-S) with a minimum interval of 28 days between the two doses. Proof of your first vaccination dose must be provided.

To be vaccinated, you will need to submit a request by email.

 

Do I need a third dose of vaccine?

According to the recommendations of Swissmedic and the FOPH, a third dose of the vaccine is possible and recommended for people with a high level of immunosuppression who did not respond sufficiently to the first two doses.

These are, for example, persons undergoing oncological treatment (certain chemotherapies) or transplanted persons who did not produce a sufficient response to the first two doses to improve their protection against the virus. In order to obtain their third vaccination appointment, persons with a high level of immunosuppression must therefore consult their doctor, who will provide them with a medical recommendation and refer them to the HUG.

 

Do I need a booster vaccine?

Swissmedic and the FOPH recommend a booster vaccine for : 

  • Persons, fully vaccinated, aged 65+
    They will be able to register directly on the platform or through the COVID-19 information line (0800 909 400) to make an appointment in one of the existing permanent vaccination centres. The booster dose should be given at least 6 months after the full vaccination, with either 2 doses of mRNA vaccine or 1 cure + 1 dose of mRNA vaccine.
    Fully vaccinated persons living in nursing homes for elderly people (EMS) or in a residential building with facilities for the elderly (IEPA), vaccination in these premises will be carried out on site by a mobile vaccination team. 
     
  • Persons aged under 65 who are considered vulnerable
    Persons under 65 who have high-risk chronic diseases according to the FOPH list, may register to receive a booster shot, after a thorough discussion with the GP
    They will be able to register directly on the platform or through the COVID-19 information line (0800 909 400) to make an appointment in one of the existing permanent vaccination centres. The vaccine will be given on prescription only. The booster dose should be given at least 6 months after the full vaccination, with either 2 doses of mRNA vaccine or 1 cure + 1 dose of mRNA vaccine.

 

Healthy people under the age of 65 will shortly be able to receive a booster dose. The Federal Commission for Vaccinations (FCV) and the FOPH now recommend booster vaccination for all fully vaccinated persons aged 16 and over, at least six months after the basic immunisation.

However, for the CFV and the FOPH, priority should be given to persons over 65 years of age and to vulnerable persons suffering from high-risk chronic diseases according to the FOPH list

Therefore, in the canton of Geneva, healthy persons aged between 16 and 64 will not yet be able to access vaccination centres to receive a booster dose. They can currently register on the online vaccination platform but will only be notified when vaccination is actually opened for their age group. They will not yet receive a vaccination appointment.

 

I would like to be vaccinated but I cannot walk. How do I go about getting vaccinated?

If you have difficulty walking and getting around, you can be vaccinated by the mobile vaccination team of the Geneva homecare institution (imad), even if you are not a regular imad client. To do so, you just need to talk to your family doctor who will contact imad to request access to home vaccination.
 

Why get vaccinated if one is not at risk?

Vaccination currently protects against the risk of disease complications or death and is therefore particularly recommended for the elderly or for vulnerable people. However, vaccination is still recommended for the general population because :

  • Vaccination protects you from COVID-19. Although many people do not develop symptoms or only a mild form of the disease, serious complications can occur. Even in cured people, including among the young and healthy population groups, a COVID-19 infection can leave important after-effects such as difficulty breathing during exercise or long term fatigue.
  • By getting vaccinated, you also partly protect the people around you and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (e.g. severe immunosuppressed persons). By getting vaccinated, you help to protect others and reduce the number of infections.
  • The coronavirus has a great impact on social and economic life. The fewer the infections, the sooner we will be able to return to a normal lifestyle. Vaccination can thus reduce the negative social, economic, psychological and health consequences of the pandemic.
  • Finally, vaccination will reduce the overload on hospitals, as fewer people will be severely ill, and it will therefore allow our health system to continue to function properly.
     

 


Vaccination of young adults (16-30 years)

Consult the FAQ: COVID-19: Vaccination 16-30 years - Reasons for the vaccine

 


Vaccination for young persons aged 12 to 15 years

Is vaccination against Covid-19 for teenagers aged 12 to 15 years recommanded?

Yes, to protect persons aged 12 to15 year olds against COVID-19, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the Federal Commission for Vaccinations offer the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty®) and, since 26 August 2021, the Moderna vaccine (Spikevax®).

COVID-19 is an infection caused by a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It is mainly transmitted by sick people when they cough, sneeze, talk or sing. Even if people have no symptoms, they can transmit the virus.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can be strong or weak. Common symptoms are the following: sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, fever, loss of taste and smell. More rarely, one may experience a headache, weakness, muscle pain, sneezing, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach ache or flushing.

Most of the time, the disease is mild among people aged 12 to 15 years - often they do not even have any symptoms. In rare cases, however, young people aged 12 to 15 can have severe or long-lasting form of COVID-19.

For more information: See FOPH documentation : COVID-19 vaccination now also possible for young people aged 12 and over Find out more now

 

What is the parents' role with regard to vaccination of adolescent aged 12-15 years?

Following the recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health and the Federal Commission for Vaccinations, adolescents aged 12 and over may decide independently in favour of vaccination, if they are capable of judgement and after having received information on vaccination.

It is nevertheless advised that adolescents aged 12 to 15 discuss an individual action plan for vaccination against COVID-19 with their parents or another trusted person.

It is recommended that a parent(s) accompany the adolescent to his/her vaccination appointment.

 

Why vaccinate persons aged 12 to 15 years against COVID-19?

Among adolescents aged 12 to 15 years without chronic diseases, a severe course of illness or complications may also occur, but these are much less frequent than among older people.

Vaccination is particularly beneficial for adolescents:

a) if they are chronically ill, to avoid a worsening of their condition in case of COVID-19 infection;

b) if they have close contact with vulnerable people, such as the elderly or people with diseases such as cancer or who are taking medicines that lower their immunity.

 

Which vaccine is used for young people and how is it administered?

The Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty®) and the Moderna vaccine (Spikevax®) are licensed today for 12 to 15 year olds. They are both mRNA vaccines.  Thes vaccines, which are very effective for adults, are also effective for young persons aged 12 to 15 year olds. They protects not only against the disease and complications but also against the transmission of the virus to other people.

You are protected for 12 months after the last dose of vaccine and you will not need to quarantine yourself during this time.

You need two doses of Pfizer vaccine, at least 3 weeks apart, tor two doses of Moderna vaccine, at least 4 weeks apart, to be well protected. If you have already been ill with COVID (and have had a test or blood test for this), one shot is sufficient. The vaccine is injected into the arm muscle.

After the injection of the vaccine, you should stay in place for 15 minutes for observation following the first dose and only 5 minutes after the second dose, if everything went well during the first dose.

 

What are the risks or side effects from the vaccine for young people?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and effective. Like all medicines, they can cause side effects which are usually mild and short-lived. The most common side effects are reactions at the point of injection, such as pain, redness and swelling. One may also experience headache and fatigue. There may also be pain in the muscles or joints, shivering and fever.

A serious side effect cannot be excluded with certainty, but it is very rare. Very occasionally, a severe allergic reaction may occur, usually within minutes of the injection. This is why you should stay for a short time after the injection so that the vaccination centre staff can observe you and react by giving medication if necessary.

 

Must youngsters continue to respect the rules once they have been vaccinated?

Everyone, regardless of age, should continue to follow the rules set by the health authorities to stop the spread of the virus, even after being vaccinated. 
 

 


Vaccines 

What is an mRNA vaccine ? How does it work ?

 The mRNA vaccine contains a part of the genetic segment of the coronavirus called “messenger RNA” or “mRNA”. The RNA code is found in tiny droplets of fat. The messenger RNA instructs cells to create a harmless piece of protein, which resembles the outside layer of the coronavirus. When the immune system encounters this protein piece, it recognizes that it does not belong there, and therefore creates the antibodies to fight it.  Through this process, our immune system is then prepared in case of infection and our bodies will be able to rapidly eliminate any coronavirus encountered. The messenger RNA injected with the vaccine is broken down and disappears completely after 1 – 2 days. 
 

In Switzerland, the mRNA vaccines currently used in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign are: Comirnaty® manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech and Spikevax® manufactured by Moderna.

For more information on the vaccines offered in Switzerland: www.infovac.ch and on the FOPH website

 

What are the differences between the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines? Can one choose? 

There are few differences between the Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty® and Moderna's Spikevax® namely that the vaccines contain different additives.

Many elements are similar or identical for both vaccines. The similarities are the following:

  • Both are mRNA vaccines.
  • Both have high efficacy, close to 95%.
  • Both products are well tolerated.
  • Two injections are required at an interval of about four weeks. If the time between the two doses is slightly longer, this does not affect the efficacy.
  • The second injection should be given with the same vaccine.
  • Both products contain polyethylene glycol (PEG). Vaccination against COVID-19 is contraindicated if you have a known strong allergy to this substance.
     

It is now possible to choose which mRNA vaccine you wish to receive. Each centre indicates the type of vaccine it administers. All you have to do is choose the centre according to this criterion.

 

What are the differences between the Janssen® vaccine and the other vaccines?

The Johnson & Johnson's Janssen® vaccine is available in the canton of Geneva since 7 October 2021. Unlike Pfizer/BioNTech's Comirnaty® and Moderna's Spikevax®, the Janssen® vaccine is not an mRNA vaccine.

The Janssen® vaccine is characterised by a single dose injection. It protects against the risk of hospitalisation and avoids mild and asymptomatic infections, but is globally less effective than the two mRNA vaccines (Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna) whose use is recommended in priority by the FOPH.

  • The Janssen® vaccine is not recommended for immunosuppressed persons, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and for persons in acute illness or quarantine (in both these situations, vaccination must be rescheduled to a later date).
     
  • Use of the Janssen® vaccine is contraindicated in persons with a severe allergic reaction to any of the components of this vaccine, with a known or probable immediate sensitisation to polysorbate 80 (E433) and with a history of capillary hyperpermeability syndrome.

    In case of doubt, it is advisable to consult a competent medical doctor.
     
  • The Janssen® vaccine is recommended for people aged over 18 who cannot be vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine for medical reasons (medical contraindications such as allergies to certain components of mRNA vaccines or an allergy following the administration of a first dose of mRNA vaccine, etc.) or who do not want to be vaccinated with mRNA vaccines.

    If this is your case and you wish to receive an appointment for a Janssen vaccine, you may register on the one.doc platform (direct booking with m3 Sanitrade and tick the Janssen box).

    The Janssen® vaccine also gives the right to a COVID-19 certificate, which is issued after the injection of the single dose and is valid from the 22nd day after the administration of the dose.

 

 


Safety and effectiveness 

What proof is there on the safety and effectiveness of these new vaccines ?

Many studies have been carried out to test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. These studies were carried out in accordance with international standards. They have taken place in many different countries and thousands of people agreed to participate in this research.

These studies have shown: 

  • Verification that the vaccines aren’t dangerous for our health (safety)
  • Evidence that the vaccines protect us from the COVID-19 illness (effectiveness):  For each 100 persons vaccinated with two doses, 95 of them avoided any infection when exposed to the virus. The 5 people who were infected only developed a mild form of the illness.  

Based on these studies, Swissmedic approved of these vaccines. 

Delta variant
The mRNA vaccines continue to be very effective against hospitalisations and severe disease, also in the case of infections with the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 (81-96% according to various studies), including among the elderly population. There is no evidence that vaccine protection is significantly weaker or of shorter duration than in the case of the Alpha variant. Current data are continuously evaluated.

Vaccination also reduces the transmission of the virus, including the Delta variant, because vaccinated people are much less frequently infected than unvaccinated people.

In case of infection with the Delta variant, vaccination shortens the period during which people are infectious. Vaccinated people transmit the virus less, but the effect of the vaccine on transmission is less important after infection with the Delta variant than with the other variants. Therefore, wearing a mask remains important to protect vulnerable people.
 

Can an mRNA vaccine change my genetic code (DNA)?

No, because the small segment of genetic code (RNA) that is injected does not penetrate the nucleus of our cells where our DNA is located. It cannot therefore change our genetic code. Moreover, the injected RNA is very fragile and is automatically eliminated by our body two days after the injection. The RNA remains in the body just long enough to produce proteins that trigger the immune system's reaction, i.e. the production of antibodies. These proteins, too, disappear afterwards.

Although mRNA vaccines are a new technology, they have already been the subject of almost 30 years of research worldwide (first studies in 1993). A large number of trials and results are therefore already available.
 

I have an appointment to be vaccinated but afterwards I have to get tested because I am going to travel. Do I risk having a positive test result for COVID-19? Should I cancel my vaccination?

Even if you have been vaccinated and obtained your COVID-19 certificate, countries may not recognise the vaccines in Switzerland and/or, depending on the epidemiological situation, may require a test (PRC or antigenic) in order to cross the border.  

In all cases and whatever the time between your vaccination (first or second) and the test performed (PCR or antigenic), mRNA vaccines do not result in a positive PCR or antigenic test. You should therefore not cancel your vaccination appointment. 

If your test is positive, it could only be because you have been in contact with a person infected with SARS-CoV-2.

 

 


Side-effects 

What are the possible side effects of these vaccines ?

The vaccines cannot cause COVID-19. Like most vaccines, these new ones can have mild side-effects. Such effects can appear on the day of vaccination or the day after. A few examples of some these are:

  • Slight discomfort around the area of injection (swelling*, redness, pain)
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness
  • Other mild forms of inflammatory reactions caused by the activation of the immune system. 

These reactions are normal and not dangerous. They may last between 1 and 3 days. They can be treated with paracetamol and do not need medical care. Pain can be treated with a cold pack. 

Moreover, there is no correlation between the presence (and degree of intensity) of side effects following a vaccine and its effectiveness on the immune system.

* A temporary inflammation at the injection spot has occasionally been observed after the COVID-19 vaccination called "COVID arm". This consists of redness and swelling, sometimes significant, which appears on the arm in where the vaccine was administered. These reactions usually occur about a week after vaccination. They are unpleasant but harmless, disappear after a few days without treatment, and have no long-term consequences. You can apply a cold pack to reduce the effects. If the discomfort is too great, contact your doctor, who will tell you how to alleviate it specifically. The second dose of the vaccination can and should be administered. It is recommended that the second dose be injected in the other arm instead.

Very rarely, severe side effects are observed, for example an allergic reaction (risk of less than 1 in 100,000 people). This reaction occurs within minutes of the injection and is quickly controlled with immediate medical attention. For this reason, vaccinated persons are monitored for at least 15 minutes after the injection.

In very rare cases, inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or pericardium has been observed shortly after vaccination. They occur between the 4th and 14th day after vaccination, in 80% of cases after the 2nd dose. A link with vaccination is currently considered possible. Most of these cases were mild and easily treated. The maximum risk of post-vaccination myocarditis/pericarditis is estimated at 6 cases/100,000 young men vaccinated, i.e. six times less than after COVID. Typical symptoms of inflammation of the heart muscle are chest pain, difficulty in breathing, a feeling of exhaustion and palpitations. If you experience these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

No serious and long-lasting side effects are known to date. The authorities and vaccine manufacturers continue to monitor and collect data on side effects. If you experience serious side effects that are not listed above, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Serious side effects must be reported. The Swissmedic reporting service examines all reports.

You can find more information on side effects in Switzerland on the Swissmedic website.
Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines in Switzerland – update

 

I had a very strong reaction to my first dose. What should I do?

Sometimes the first dose of vaccine can cause a strong reaction (an allergic reaction, which usually occurs immediately after vaccination, or a "covid arm", which is a reddening and swelling, sometimes severe, of the arm in which the vaccine was given).

This strong reaction, which may be due to a variety of factors, could lead you to forego your second dose of the vaccine. This is an important question because depending on your decision, you may not be sufficiently protected after only one dose of vaccine and you may not be able to access your COVID certificate of vaccination.
 

  • An allergy to one of the components of the vaccine

For the vaccines used in Switzerland, the components that can cause an allergic reaction are polyethylene glycol (PEG)/macrogol in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and/or tromethamine in the Moderna vaccine.

If you have had strong symptoms (allergic/anaphylactic reaction, which usually appears immediately after vaccination with itching, swelling of the palms of the hands or soles of the feet, eyelids, oral mucosa, lips or tongue, red papules, breathing problems, shortness of breath, coughing, gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, feeling faint), it is recommended that you discuss this with your doctor or an allergist.

To find out if you are indeed allergic to a component of an mRNA vaccine, it is advisable to consult your GP, who will assess whether a consultation with a specialist is recommended in your situation.

You can also consult the recommendations for vaccination against COVID-19 in people with allergic diseases of the Swiss Society of Allergology and Immunology. 

Available in French:  Recommandations pour la vaccination contre COVID-19 chez les personnes atteintes de maladies allergiques de la Société suisse d'Allergologie et d'immunologie.

If you are indeed allergic to one of the components of an mRNA vaccine and you reside in Geneva, you may opt for the Janssen® vaccine, now available, in consultation with a specialist, by registering on the One.doc platform and ticking the Janssen® box.

 
  • A strong immune response suggesting that you may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2.

It is possible that in the past year you have developed an asymptomatic form of COVID-19 and that you are therefore partially immune. In this case, it is recommended that you discuss your situation with your doctor and have a serology test done (possible up to 14 days after the 1st dose).

Please note: the cost of the serology in this case is not covered by the Confederation and will be at your expense.

If your serology is positive, you can skip the second dose and apply directly online for your COVID certificate by filling out the e-démarches Certificats COVID | ge.ch application form. The cantonal doctor will decide on the basis of your serological results whether you are eligible for your certificate with a single dose or whether you still need to have a second dose of the vaccine. If this is the case, when you go for your vaccination, you must inform the medical staff who will take care of your vaccination.
 

 


Counter-indications 

For whom is vaccination not recommended ?

The vaccine is not currently indicated for children under the age of 12 years because studies conducted to date have not included this population and there is a lack of data.

There are some people who would be advised to ot receive a vaccination (in medical terms it is “contraindicated”):

  • People who have had a previous serious allergic reaction to any vaccine or its composites

Other people who may have to wait before getting vaccinated include:  

  • People who are currently suffering from COVID-19
  • People who have an acute illness (fever, etc..). 
  • People in quarantine 
  • Pregnant women during the first term of pregnancy*
On the other hand, for people who have been ill with COVID-19 (confirmed by PCR or antigen test), the vaccine is recommended as early as 28 days after illness, with a single dose, and within 3 months of infection.

* Laboratory tests on the administration of a vaccine during the first 3 months of pregnancy do not however indicate any direct or indirect adverse effects on pregnancy, embryonic/fetal development, birth or postnatal development. Since 28 May 2021, vaccination is recommended by the FOPH for all women who are pregnant in their second or third term, and who are either healthy, vulnerable (i.e. chronically ill) or at increased risk of exposure (e.g. healthcare workers).
 

Can I get vaccinated if I have seasonal, food, or medication allergies?

There are virtually no contraindications to the COVID-19 vaccines. People with seasonal, food or medication allergies can be vaccinated without any problem. In addition, each person vaccinated is monitored for 15 minutes after the injection so that severe allergic reactions, which almost always occur immediately, can be treated immediately.

However, the COVID-19 vaccine is not recommended for people with a proven severe allergy to one of its components. For the vaccines used in Switzerland, the components concerned are polyethylene glycol (PEG)/macrogol in the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and/or tromethamine in the Moderna vaccine.

However, allergic reactions to both vaccines available in Switzerland are very rare. If you have had a severe allergy after an injection (including a vaccine), it is recommended that you seek advice from your GP or allergist.
 

I am under quarantaine, can I get vaccinated?

No, your vaccination should be postponed until after your quarantine period. If an appointment has already been made, you should call the vaccination centre where you were registered to reschedule.
 

I am in isolation, can I get vaccinated?

No, vaccination is not indicated during an ongoing COVID-19 infection implying a period of isolation. Vaccination should be delayed for either three or six months (depending on state of health) because the infection provides at least three months of natural immunity that protects against re-infection.
 

 


Pregnancy

Should pregnant women and breast-feeding women get vaccinated?

Data show that vaccination is safe for both the mother and the foetus. Vaccination has no known effect on pregnancy or fertility. Based on the views of various international expert groups and the data available on vaccination during pregnancy, vaccination against Covid-19 can be given to all pregnant women who wish to be vaccinated. 

Vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended for pregnant women because they are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 than women who are not pregnant. Vaccination can protect them from serious illness due to COVID-19. 

Currently, all pregnant or nursing women have the possibility to be vaccinated against COVID-19, under the conditions below:

  • Vaccination with mRNA vaccine (but not the Janssen® vaccine) is recommended to all pregnant women whatever their state of health
  • Pregnant women do not require a medical certificate from their doctor or gynecologist. 
  • Pregnant women do not need to provide their written consent.

Vaccination is recommended from the 2nd term onwards. 

Vaccination is also recommended for women who are nursing and for women who are planning to get pregnant.
 

 


Immunity and vaccination coverage 

For how long is one protected by the vaccine against COVID-19?

Maximum vaccine protection begins two weeks after the second dose of vaccine. 

The full length of on-going protection is not yet known. It could be somewhere between a few months and a few years. The effectiveness of the vaccine will be more certain once it has been tested on populations that have not been included in phases two and three of the trials. A booster vaccine might be necessary after one, two, three, five or ten years.   
 

Can we drop other protective measures, one vaccinated?

No, protective measures are still necessary because even if vaccination protects against a severe form of the disease, it is not yet known for sure whether being vaccinated prevents the virus from being transmitted. Protective measures (hand hygiene, wearing a mask and social distance) remain essential, even for vaccinated people.
 

Does vaccination imply the end of the pandemic?

No, vaccination primarily protects those who are vaccinated against a severe form of the disease. The more people who are vaccinated, the less the virus circulates. However, it is not expected that group immunity will be sufficient to curb the epidemic in the coming months.
 

Do virus mutations (variants) affect the vaccine ?

Since its appearance, the virus has undergone several mutations and several variants are currently circulating around the world. Initially named after the country where they first appeared, some of the most common variants were renamed in June 2021, following a decision by the World Health Organization (WHO): 

  • Alpha is the so-called "British" variant, or B.1.1.7 ;
  • Beta is the so-called "South African" variant, or B.1.351 ;
  • Gamma is the so-called "Brazilian" variant, or P.1;
  • Delta is one of the so-called "Indian" variants, or B.1.617.2 ;
  • Kappa is its close cousin, also known as "Indian", or B.1.617.1.

The COVID-19 vaccine also protects against the variants of the coronavirus currently circulating in Switzerland. The mutations observed do not call into question the protection of the vaccine because the mutations do not affect the elements that determine the protective mechanism of the vaccine.

The Swiss health authorities are closely monitoring the development of new variants at the international level. If necessary, it should be possible to modify the vaccine accordingly.

In the case of an epidemic, it is possible that new variants emerge. Vaccination slows down the spread of the virus, thereby limiting the appearance and transmission of new variants. The less people get vaccinated, the higher the risk that variants will multiply.
 

I am vaccinated? Can I still be infected and in which case, what must I do?

Although vaccination provides very high protection against infection, infection is still possible. Thus, even if a person has been vaccinated, he/she can be infected and can transmit the virus. It should be emphasised that vaccine protection against infection and mild disease due to the Delta variant is reduced compared to the Alpha variant. Vaccination remains very effective in protecting against severe disease and hospitalisation.

All people who test positive for COVID-19 should go into isolation, including vaccinated people. As with any person who tests positive, the cantonal medical service is informed of the test result and will carry out a family and friends survey to identify close contacts, and will formally announce the isolation. 
 

 


Vaccination registration

See FAQ contained under Registration for vaccination leaflet

 


Vaccination and COVID Certificate

Persons vaccinated in Geneva: How to obtain a COVID certificate?

Consult the Summary chart - How to obtain a COVID certificate in the canton of Geneva in the case of vaccination

The COVID Certificate for Vaccinated Persons site provides detailed information about the certificate and how to obtain a certificate.

 


Important
The COVID certificate is personal. When checked, the certificate holder may be asked to prove his or her identity by means of an official identification document with a photo (e.g. an identity card). 

The information on the certificate - surname(s), first name(s), date of birth - should be identical to the information on the identity document.

  • When registering for vaccination or applying for a certificate, we ask you to provide the same personal details as on your identity documents. 
  • Upon receipt of your certificate, please check that the data matches. If such is not the case, a new certificate may be requested.  To obtain a new corrected certificate, you may get advice directly from the COVID-19 General information line (0800 909 400).

 

Persons who have been fully vaccinated abroad: How to obtain a COVID certificate in Switzerland?

Consult the Summary chart - How to obtain a COVID certificate in the canton of Geneva in the case of vaccination

  • People fully vaccinated abroad and who have a digital COVID certificate from the European Union (issued by the EU and EFTA member states) don't need to apply for a Swiss COVID certificate because their certificate is recognised in all venues that require a COVID certificate in Switzerland.
     
  • As from 18 October, fully vaccinated persons outside the Schengen area who are living in, visiting or planning to visit Switzerland and who meet the criteria in the summary table can apply for a Swiss COVID certificate by filling in online the COVID Certificates e-démarches application form | ge.ch. They will have to provide proof of vaccination, proof of residence in Switzerland and attach an identity document to their application. 

    Meanwhile, and until 24 October 2021, foreign vaccination certificates mentioning vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are valid in Switzerland for access to facilities or events requiring a COVID certificate. Proof of vaccination must be presented in one of the official Swiss languages or in English translation.

 See also: FOPH website - Coronavirus: where and how to get a COVID certificate and how long it is valid

 


Important
The COVID certificate is personal. When checked, the certificate holder may be asked to prove his or her identity by means of an official identification document with a photo (e.g. an identity card). 

The information on the certificate - surname(s), first name(s), date of birth - should be identical to the information on the identity document.

  • When registering for vaccination or applying for a certificate (e-démarches), we ask you to provide the same personal details as on your identity documents. 
  • Upon receipt of your certificate, please check that the data matches. If such is not the case, a new certificate may be requested.  To obtain a new corrected certificate, you may get advice directly from the COVID-19 General information line (0800 909 400).
     

Vaccination carried out partly abroad and partly in Switzerland: How to obtain a COVID certificate in Switzerland?

Consult the Summary chart - How to obtain a COVID certificate in the canton of Geneva in the case of vaccination

The COVID Certificate for Vaccinated Persons site provides detailed information about the certificate and how to obtain a certificate.

See also: FOPH website - Coronavirus: where and how to get a COVID certificate and how long it is valid

 


Important
The COVID certificate is personal. When checked, the certificate holder may be asked to prove his or her identity by means of an official identification document with a photo (e.g. an identity card). 

The information on the certificate - surname(s), first name(s), date of birth - should be identical to the information on the identity document.

  • When registering for vaccination or applying for a certificate, we ask you to provide the same personal details as on your identity documents. 
  • Upon receipt of your certificate, please check that the data matches. If such is not the case, a new certificate may be requested.  To obtain a new corrected certificate, you may get advice directly from the COVID-19 General information line (0800 909 400).

 

 


Administrative aspects 

How much does the vaccine cost?

Vaccinations against COVID-19 are free. The costs are covered by health insurance (with no excess chargeable), the cantons and the State. Vaccination is not subject to any deductible or part-payment. 
 

How must one register for vaccination ? Must one systematically register online using the vaccination registration platform ?

Registration is done on the internet and requires a mobile phone number to confirm the registration.

For those who have difficulty registering online and are unable to get help from a relative, various options are possible without necessarily having to use the online vaccination registration platform:

  1. By calling the COVID-19 general information line (0800 909 400) to register on the on-line registration platform.
  2. By registering directly in two other pharmacies in Geneva (Phamacie Bleue at Vesenaz and Pharmacie du Mandement in Satigny). They will be vaccinated there.
  3. By contacting the Geneva Red Cross
  4. Walk-in vaccination without a prior appointment

 

Where is one vaccinated ?

There are currently several vaccination centres in Geneva. Consult the list.

Though one ticks a choice of boxes for various vaccination centres while registering on the internet, appointments are currently attributed according to the "first registered, first served, first available spot" principle. So one's first choice is not necessarily the centre which one will be attributed.

It is also possible to get vaccinated in several pharmacies without registering online.
 

What if I am a cross-boarder commuter ?

Cross-border commuters covered by compulsory health insurance in Switzerland (LAMal) can be vaccinated in Switzerland in accordance with the vaccination recommendations. The cost is covered by the compulsory health insurance, the Confederation and the cantons.

Cross-border commuters who are not insured in Switzerland but who, because of their professional activity in Geneva, are exposed to a risk of infection (e.g. health personnel in contact with patients or care personnel in homes and EMS) can also be vaccinated in our country according to the same procedure, and will have to present a certificate from their employer. 

Cross-border commuters who are insured abroad (i.e. not under the LAMal scheme) and who do not belong to the exposed professional categories must be vaccinated in the country where they are domiciled.
 

I am Swiss but I live abroad. Can I get vaccinated in Geneva with my family?

Yes, Swiss nationals living abroad - with or without compulsory health insurance in Switzerland (basic insurance) - and their close family members living in the same household who are not Swiss nationals (partner, children, parents, parents-in-law) may be vaccinated in Geneva. When they are vaccinated for the first time, they must present an identity card/passport as well as a signed declaration that they are living together.
 

Does vaccination result in a COVID certificate? And what about vaccination carried out abroad?

If you are fully vaccinated, you are eligible for a COVID certificate.

Consult Summary chart - How to obtain a COVID certificate in the canton of Geneva in the case of vaccination

You can check whether you are eligible for a COVID certificate by filling online the COVID Certificates e-démarches application form | ge.ch.

See also: FOPH website - Coronavirus: where and how to get a COVID certificate and how long it is valid

 

Does one receive a vaccination certificate or a record mark in one's vaccination leaflet ?

A paper certificate is issued by the vaccination centre for each COVID-19 vaccination:

  • the first is an intermediate certificate of vaccination;
  • the second certificate gives a summary of the two doses. It provides information on the vaccine batch used in the COVID-19 vaccination, the name of the person vaccinated and the date of administration of the two doses.

People who receive only one dose of vaccine receive only the certificate for the first dose.

Vaccination certificates provided by the vaccination centre have no legal value, especially with regard to border crossings and international travel. They do not replace the COVID certificate which is delivered by the Swiss federal authorities.

See also:
Travelling and quarantine
Coronavirus: Entering Switzerland (FOPH)

 

 


Can I be obliged to get vaccinated?

Vaccination against COVID-19 is a free decision for each individual in Switzerland.

The law on epidemics provides that the Confederation and the cantons can declare vaccinations compulsory for vulnerable groups of people and for certain people under very strict conditions. Here, it is not currently the case. Today many people want to be vaccinated and register, but the number of doses available is currently limited. This is why there is a waiting list for vaccination but all persons registered will be vaccinated.

 

 

 

Check also :

  1. Information regarding vaccination in various languages (FOPH)
  2. Information in 16 langages proposed by the Swiss Red Cross regarding vaccination against COVID 19 in Switzerland: Explanations in English, Albanian, Amharic, Arab, Spanish, Farsi/Persan/Dari, Kurdish, Portugese, Russian, Romanian, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, Somali, Tamil, Tigrinya, Turkish) 

 


Do you have a question regarding your registration?

You may submit your questions by email or by calling the COVID-19 general information line (0800 909 400) - free call 7/7 8am-7pm.

 

Dernière modification
26 November 2021
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