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COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Patients

UC San Diego Health is proud to have delivered more than 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the San Diego community. Because vaccines are now readily available in the community, we are no longer scheduling vaccine appointments at UC San Diego Health locations.

Getting a Vaccine

If you need a vaccine, we encourage you to check the VaccineFinder site to schedule at a convenient location. You can also register on the state's MyTurn website or see the County of San Diego’s website.

Digital Vaccine Records

You can now access a digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccine records through MyUCSDChart. You'll be able to generate a QR code that can soon be read by participating organizations or download a PDF record of your vaccine doses. 

This digital vaccine record is also known as a SMART Health Card. It is similar to the digital vaccine record available through the state of California, but you may find the MyUCSDChart version easier to access, especially if you have proxy accounts through MyChart for children or other family members.

To access your vaccine record:

  • Log into MyUCSDChart or open the MyUCSDHealth app and select MyUCSDChart
  • Go to the Menu and select "COVID-19" under My Record. (You can also find vaccine records under Immunizations, but the QR codes and PDF downloads are not offered in that area of MyUCSDChart.)
  • Select "QR codes" to generate a QR code or "Download/Export" to generate a PDF copy of your vaccine results.

If you received one or both of your COVID-19 vaccine doses outside of UC San Diego Health, we may have already received vaccine records from other vaccination locations in California and automatically updated your medical records. If not, you can send a message to your primary care provider through MyUCSDChart once you have received both doses. Log into MyUCSDChart and select “Messaging,” then “Send a Message.” Please attach a photo of your vaccine card and include the dates and the type of vaccine you received.

After Your Vaccination: Continue to Help Stop the Spread

It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Until then, follow the CDC's guidelines to protect yourself and others. You can also help by registering on the CDC's v-safe website to report daily health checks and any side effects.

Once you're fully vaccinated, you can resume some of the activities you had stopped during the pandemic, according to CDC guidance, while still taking certain safety precautions in public places. For details, see When You've Been Fully Vaccinated on the CDC website.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

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Getting Your Vaccine

I received my first dose through UC San Diego Health but still need a second dose. What do I do?

Because vaccines are now readily available in the community, we are no longer scheduling vaccine appointments at UC San Diego Health locations. We encourage you to check the VaccineFinder site to schedule your second dose at a convenient location. You can also register on the state's MyTurn website or see the County of San Diego’s website.

What is the recommended interval between vaccination doses? Are there any concerns if my second dose is delayed?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, with an interval that the Centers for Disease Control currently says can be extended up to 42 days. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require a second dose.)

However, infectious disease researchers and physicians at UC San Diego Health and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with many other experts across the country, do not believe a delay in the recommended second dose beyond the 42-day interval negatively affects vaccination protection. Based on clinical trials data, the first dose of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines provide a strong immune response approximately two weeks after inoculation. This strong protection persists for at least four to six weeks, and likely longer. In fact, experience with other vaccines indicates that boosting the initial immune response is even more effective when there is a longer interval between first and second doses. The original three-week and four-week intervals were used during clinical trials and recommended by Pfizer and Moderna were based on an urgent need to generate data for FDA review, and to accelerate availability of vaccines during this pandemic.

Studies of the dosing interval for COVID-19 vaccines continue. The optimal interval length is not yet known, but experts at UC San Diego and throughout the scientific community are confident that a delay beyond cited interval times will not reduce the benefits of the second dose.

I received a COVID-19 vaccine somewhere other than UC San Diego Health. How do I update MyUCSDChart?

In many cases, we have already received vaccine records from other vaccination locations in California and automatically updated your medical records. To check, log into MyUCSDChart, go to the Menu and select "COVID-19" or "Immunizations" under My Record.

If the record of your vaccine is not there, you can send a message to your primary care provider through MyUCSDChart once you have received both doses. Log into MyUCSDChart and select “Messaging,” then “Send a Message.” Please include the dates you received the vaccine, and the type of vaccine you received.

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccination if I’ve had another recent vaccination (including tetanus shot, flu shot, pneumonia shot or shingles vaccine)?

It’s recommended to wait at least 14 days between any other kind of vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. However, there are some situations where the benefits of vaccination outweigh the unknown risks of a shorter wait between vaccines. Please talk to your doctor if you have concerns. If you do receive a COVID-19 vaccination within 14 days of another vaccine, you do not need to repeat any doses of either vaccine.

 

Can I get a vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?

Yes. You can get vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19, but the ideal timing of receiving the vaccine remains unclear. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus is extremely uncommon within 90 days after initial infection, so we recommend waiting at least 90 days before getting vaccinated if you have had COVID-19.

However, there is no strict recommendation against getting vaccinated sooner than 90 days once you have recovered, but it is best to discuss your options with your doctor. The vaccine should not be given to anyone who is actively infected.

If you test positive or develop a COVID-19 infection after receiving your first dose of the vaccine, you can proceed with the second dose as scheduled, but only after you have recovered from the infection and have been formally cleared from any quarantine.

I had COVID-19 and received convalescent plasma or a monoclonal antibody therapy (such as Eli Lilly's bamlanivimab or Regeneron's casirivimab/imdevimab). Can I get a vaccine?

Yes, but you should wait until 90 days after your treatment. Based on current evidence, deferring vaccination for at least 90 days is a precautionary measure to avoid the antibody treatment interfering with the vaccine's induced immune responses.

Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness

Why should I get a vaccine? Is it safe?

There are many benefits to getting vaccinated. All three COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be safe and very effective in reducing the risk of getting seriously ill even if you do get infected by the novel coronavirus.

No vaccine is 100 percent effective, so the more people in our communities who become vaccinated, the less the virus will circulate among us and the better protected we all will be.

So far, more than 575,000 people have died in the United States alone from COVID-19, including many who were young and did not have underlying medical conditions. Many people who survived COVID-19 have debilitating breathing, cardiac, kidney and neurological problems, even months after recovering from the immediate infection.

What are the potential side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine?

Some people may experience side effects such as pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain or fever. The symptoms can be more intense, but have not been observed as serious or long-lasting. Reactions to vaccines are common — they indicate expected immune response. Experts say the vaccines are safe. Side effects may be more common after the second dose.

Blood clots have occurred rarely in some people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In people who developed these blood clots, symptoms began approximately one to two weeks after vaccination, and most were women under 50 years of age. You should seek medical attention right away if you have any of the following symptoms several days after receiving the vaccine: shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling persistent abdominal pain, severe headaches or blurred vision, easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection.

How effective are current vaccines against new variants of the virus?

The vaccines authorized for use in the US are highly protective against COVID-19, including (as of June 2021) the Delta variant and other recognized variants. Vaccinated people are not only protected against infection but also experience much milder illness if they do become infected. As of June 2021, almost everyone currently hospitalized in the United States because of COVID-19 infection had been unvaccinated.

Because there is still widespread COVID-19 disease on a global scale, the virus continues to have opportunity to mutate and we need to stay vigilant, but the vaccines are performing well against the current variants. The more people who are vaccinated, the less opportunity the virus will have opportunity to infect, replicate and mutate. Getting vaccinated therefore protects people from disease, protects people from complications in the rare instances of breakthrough infection, and protects the surrounding community from future surges of this infection.

Am I immediately protected from COVID-19 after vaccination?

No. People are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after a single-dose vaccine or two weeks after the second shot of a two-dose vaccine.

How long will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me? Will I need to get a shot every year?

That remains to be seen. The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, emerged only in late 2019. While much has been learned about the virus since then — and development of vaccines has occurred with unprecedented speed — much else remains a mystery, including how long vaccine protection lasts and vaccine adaptation for virus mutations. Influenza virus mutates routinely and often, requiring annual, reformulated vaccines.

SARS-CoV-2 also mutates regularly, acquiring about one new mutation in its genome every two weeks. Many mutations do not fundamentally change the nature or behavior of the virus; some can actually make a virus less virulent. Nonetheless, new variants of the virus are causing concern. Research is ongoing on how effectively will currently authorized vaccines protect people against them.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines?

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. Get more information from the CDC.

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are mRNA vaccines. These vaccines teach the body’s cells to make a harmless piece of a "spike protein" found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Once the protein piece is made and displayed on the cell’s surface, our body’s immune system recognizes that the protein doesn’t belong there and activates an immune response by producing antibodies. Then, if we are exposed to the virus later, our bodies are already prepared to fight it and help prevent us from getting sick.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine employs an older approach: A deactivated common cold virus is modified to carry the SARS-CoV-2's characteristic spike protein, which the virus uses to enter host cells. This vaccine "vector" is injected, and the presence of the spike protein prompts the human immune system to create neutralizing antibodies to block the targeted pathogen, essentially rendering subsequent exposures to the coronavirus as non-infectious.


Learn More About COVID-19 vaccines

Other COVID-19 Information from UC San Diego Health

  • For information about coronavirus testing, the precautions we're taking or other COVID-19 information for patients and visitors, go to health.ucsd.edu/covid.
  • If you need care for other reasons, please visit our Make an Appointment page.


COVID-19 Vaccine Information Videos

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