Wake County FAQs

On May 14, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper enacted Executive Order 215 which will remain in effect until June 11, 2021 at 5 p.m., unless repealed, replaced, or rescinded.

Major changes:

  • Face covering requirements are lifted in most settings. (See details below addressing where these requirements are still applicable.)
  • Capacity restrictions are lifted in all settings.
  • Social distancing requirements have been lifted in all settings. (For example, there is no longer a requirement that tables in restaurants be spaced out.)

Staying the same: 

  • Nothing prevents people from continuing to wear face coverings, which are recommended for unvaccinated people and for all people in large venues.
  • Employers, business owners, and local governments may require face coverings and social distancing.
  • Because children are still unvaccinated and can easily spread COVID-19, face coverings are still required in child care, children’s day camps, and children’s overnight camps. Nothing in today’s Executive Order changes the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit requirement for face coverings in schools.
  • The CDC has advised that face coverings should continue to be required in several health care settings, in transportation settings like airports and bus stations, in correctional and detention facilities, and at homeless service providers. This Order continues those face covering requirements.
  • Local governments can implement stricter COVID-19 face covering, capacity, and social distancing requirements.

• Face covering requirements are lifted in most settings.

• Capacity restrictions are lifted in all settings.

• Social distancing requirements have been lifted in all settings. (For example, there is no longer a requirement that tables in restaurants be spaced out.)

Yes. Businesses and churches can still require guests to wear face coverings in their establishments.

The following establishments, businesses, and institutions are required to follow NCDHHS Guidance with respect to indoor face covering requirements and all other COVID-19 related restrictions and recommendations:

• Schools
• Child care facilities
• Children’s day or overnight camps
• Certain health care settings like long term care centers
• Public or private transportation regulated by the State of North Carolina and North Carolina
airports, bus and train stations or stops
• Prisons and establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness
• Establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness

Individuals in these settings may be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and, therefore, are subject to specific NCDHHS guidelines.

Yes. A face covering does not need to be worn by an individual who:

a. Should not wear a face covering due to any medical or behavioral condition or disability (including, but not limited to any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance);
b. Is under five (5) years of age;
c. Is actively eating or drinking;
d. Is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
e. Is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
f. Is working at home or is in a personal vehicle;
g. Is temporarily removing his or her face covering to secure government or medical services or for identification purposes;
h. Would be at risk from wearing a face covering at work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines;
i. Has found that his or her face covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; or is a child whose parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place the Face Covering safely on the child's face.
Anyone who declines to wear a face covering for these reasons should not be required to produce documentation or any other proof of a condition. Children under two (2) years of age should not wear a face covering.

NCDHHS has additional recommendations to improve mask wearing based on guidance from the CDC.

To ensure masks are as protective as possible, NCDHHS recommends that you:
• Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face and covers your nose and mouth. To help with a snug fit, you can use a mask with a metal strip along the top of the mask.
• Use two or more layers for your face covering. You can do this by wearing a cloth face covering with two or more layers or by wearing one disposable mask (sometimes referred to as a surgical mask or a medical procedure mask) underneath a cloth mask.
• Do not wear two disposable masks.
• Make sure you can see and breathe easily.

For additional information on how to improve mask wearing, please see updated guidelines from the  CDC.

Wake County’s goal is to get everyone vaccinated as quickly, safely and equitably as possible.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina.

At this time, Pfizer is the only vaccine authorized for those under 18 years old, but Wake County Public Health's appointment system allows for those 12 and up to chose locations where Pfizer is being offered.

Click here to see our vaccine clinic schedule to find a spot near you to walk-in OR make an appointment.  You can also call our Vaccine Hotline at 919-250-1515.

Wake County Public Health is one of many providers in Wake County receiving shipments of the vaccine. Find a vaccination location near you at NC Vaccine Finder.

All providers are working closely together to vaccinate the public against COVID-19 and help keep our community healthy and safe.

Anyone 12 and older can walk in or make an appointment with our online vaccine schedule and request form or by calling call the vaccine hotline at 919-250-1515.

The vaccine alone won’t stop the spread of COVID-19 right away. Still, it's a major breakthrough in preventing serious illness from COVID-19 and needs to be used in combination with other prevention methods. 

These vaccines have been proven to effectively prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19. However, it’s still possible that some vaccinated people could get infected without developing symptoms. This means people who are vaccinated could silently be spreading the virus, especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks.  

When in public, people need to continue to practice the 3Ws – wear a mask, wait at least 6 feet away, and wash your hands frequently.  

It is important to remember that children under 12 cannot be vaccinated and are still at risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. 

Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can: 

  • Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. 
  • Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household unless any of those people have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. For example, you can visit unvaccinated relatives who all live together or an unvaccinated friend without a mask. If any of the people you are visiting has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and are not vaccinated, wear a mask. 

If you’ve been around or exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. 

Even when you are fully vaccinated, you should: 

  • Wear a mask in public. 
  • Stay socially distant, at least 6 feet, from unvaccinated people at high-risk for COVID-19. 
  • Practice good hand sanitation. 
  • Keep your indoor gatherings small – 2 total households. 
  • Avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
  • Delay domestic and international travel. 

You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others. 

We learn more about how long vaccination protection lasts and as more people become protected through vaccination over time.  It's estimated at 70-85% of people will need to receive a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Some people are reporting temporary reactions after being vaccinated, such as swelling from the injection, tiredness, or feeling bad for a day or two. These are normal symptoms and are a sign of a proper immune response, similar to those experienced when receiving other routine vaccinations. These routine reactions typically last no longer than a day and a half. You cannot become infected with COVID-19 from receiving the vaccine. Please consult your primary care physician if you have any concerns about the way you’re feeling after vaccination. Click here for more information.

Wake County Public Health is using all the COVID-19 vaccines available to the public. Your vaccine provider will tell you what vaccine you are receiving and will let you know when and how to schedule our follow-up appointment.

All vaccines have shown to be safe and effective in preventing death and serious illness due to COVID-19. All the vaccines have shown to be highly effective in reducing death and serious hospitalization from COVID-19.

The goal of using all vaccines available is to increase vaccination rates so our community can stop the spread of COVID-19 and get back to life.

It is important that people do not mix vaccine brands for their first and second shots. Receiving the second shot of the same vaccine as your first shot is critical in achieving the vaccine's total protection.

Doses Needed for Full Coverage

Vaccine Brand Doses Needed Days Until 2nd Dose
Pfizer 2 doses 21 days
Moderna 2 doses 28 days
Johnson & Johnson 1 dose No 2nd dose required


Yes, Wake County Public Health does allow you to see the expected brand of vaccine that will be offered at each site when you're making an appointment.

All the approved vaccines have been shown to be highly effective in reducing death and serious hospitalization from COVID-19.

Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines in Preventing Death and Serious Illness

Pfizer 95% effective
Moderna 94.1% effective
Johnson & Johnson 81.7% effective

The most common side effects being injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and fever. Side effects are more common after the second dose, especially for younger adults.

It is important that people do not mix vaccine brands for their first and second shots. Receiving the second shot of the same vaccine as your first shot is critical in achieving the vaccine's total protection. Your vaccine provider will help you determine if you need a second dose and how/when to come back to get full protection.

Everyone who is vaccinated will still need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and frequent hand sanitation until most Wake county is vaccinated.

The goal of using all vaccines available is to increase vaccination rates so our community can stop the spread of COVID-19 and get back to life.

The COVID-19 vaccines are shown to be safe and effective. While these vaccines were developed quickly, they were built upon years of work in developing vaccines for similar viruses. To test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, more than 100,000 people participated in clinical trials. To date, those vaccines are nearly 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 with no serious safety concerns. Read more about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

This video was prepared for our Wake County EMS staff, who would become some of the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine shipment sent to the county. Many said hearing this information was extremely helpful in deciding whether to get the shot. Watch for yourself:

The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to everyone for free, whether or not you have health insurance. The federal government is purchasing the vaccines. Just like Wake County Public Health continues offering no-cost COVID-19 testing, we will be working to make sure everyone has equal access to the vaccine as well.

Yes, you should get vaccinated whether you've had COVID-19 or not.

Sometimes after being infected by a virus, your body builds up a “natural immunity” by making its own antibodies. But right now, there’s not enough information available to confidently say if being infected with COVID-19 creates any protection from getting it again. Early evidence suggests that natural immunity to COVID-19 may not last very long, so that's why it's recommended that everyone get a vaccine, even if you've tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered.

If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

It is safe to get vaccinated if you have been infected in the past. Additional information can be found here for the COVID-19 vaccines.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women may choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant women can talk with their doctors before making the choice. You do not need to take a pregnancy test before you get your vaccine. Women who are breastfeeding may also choose to get vaccinated. The vaccine is not thought to be a risk to a baby who is breastfeeding. Additional information can be found here.

Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is only available as a shot. Talk to a doctor, nurse or medical professional about your fear of needles. Many people report being afraid of needles, but they weigh the benefits of feeling that brief prick against getting sick if they contract COVID-19. When you get vaccinated, it not only protects you, it protects our community by breaking the chain of infection that COVID-19 relies on to spread.

Children 12 and up have been approved by the FDA and CDC to receive the Pfizer vaccine under an emergency authorization. Additional studies are underway for children under 12 years old.

Mutations in viruses, including the coronavirus which is causing the COVID-19 pandemic, are neither new nor unexpected. There are several additional strains and there will likely be more as this pandemic progresses. The more people infected by COVID-19, the more chances there are for mutations to occur. That's why getting vaccinated and following the 3Ws continue to be our best defense against exposure, infection, and the evolution of new strains.

Our state has increased the number of specimens it regularly submits to the CDC for genetic sequencing, which detects new strains and vaccine sensitivity. The vaccine manufacturers are testing their vaccines against the new strains and will develop new boosters as needed. Currently, no new boosters are needed.

Visit the Vaccine page for more information.