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COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Patients

This page was last updated on February 26, 2021. Petco Park Vaccination Super Station will be closed Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 27 – March 2) because of vaccine shortages. Appointments on those days and throughout March will be automatically rescheduled. Please check your MyUCSDChart account or email for details.

Vaccinations for UC San Diego Health Patients

We are now scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations for all UC San Diego Health patients who are 65 years and older. We have completed sending scheduling invitations for this age group through the MyUCSDChart portal, and we are continuing to call those who do not have accounts.

If you are 65 or over and have not scheduled your vaccination:

  • Please check your email or MyUCSDChart account to find your invitation. 
  • If you don't yet have one, please create a MyUCSDChart account now. You will be able to schedule after logging in to your new account. Although we will also contact you by telephone, text or email if you do not use the portal, we encourage MyUCSDChart because of the ease of online self-scheduling.

As we receive more vaccine supplies, we will be able to increase our capacity to additional groups. When we are ready to schedule your vaccination, we will notify you through your MyUCSDChart account.

  • Please do not call; instead wait for your invitation to avoid overwhelming our phone lines.
  • Because our distribution plan follows county guidelines, we are not establishing a vaccine waitlist.
  • If you are a patient of another health care system, please wait for a message from your own care provider.

Please be aware that we are not currently scheduling appointments for our patients based on employment status. Educators and others who will be eligible for a vaccine as part of Phase 1B starting Saturday, Feb. 27, should refer to the County of San Diego’s website for information on making an appointment.

UC San Diego Health Vaccine Locations

We are partnering with San Diego County to deliver vaccine doses to the community at our vaccination sites, as well as scheduling UC San Diego Health patients at these locations. The days, times and locations that are available when you schedule may depend on vacine supply. Please come at your scheduled appointment time; hours of operation are subject to change. Your first and second dose may be scheduled at different locations. 

  • Recreation, Intramural and Athletic Complex (RIMAC) on UC San Diego campus (North Central Super Station)
    Free parking available in nearby Hopkins Parking Structure at 9746 Hopkins Drive, La Jolla
    Walk-in only
    Map and driving directions
    From the parking structure, take elevators or stairs to the 7th floor, cross the bridge, and follow signs to RIMAC. ADA parking is available at a different lot. Follow traffic signs or attendant instructions.
    Public transportation: Several bus routes serve the UC San Diego campus, with free rides available from MTS.

  • Petco Park Vaccination Super Station in downtown San Diego
    Entrance: Corner of K Street and 13th Street
    Drive-in — expect to remain in your car for entire visit
    Walk-in option is available. Station is across from 12th and Imperial MTS Station. Accessible by all trolley lines, with free rides available from MTS. Free parking not provided.

Other Vaccination Options

Patients who are eligible for a vaccine may find it more convenient to schedule their vaccines elsewhere. We encourage you to get your vaccine wherever is the quickest and most convenient. 

  • San Diego County is partnering with numerous health care providers and organizations at locations across the region. To check for open appointments, go to San Diego County Vaccination Appointments.
  • Many pharmacy chains and supermarket pharmacies are participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. You can check for open appointments at their websites.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Phases

Vaccination phases follow public health guidelines and depend on vaccine supplies. Those at highest risk, including health care workers and people 65 and over, are in the first phases.

Currently Vaccinating

  • Phase 1A —Tier 1, 2, 3 (through employer or San Diego County):
    • All health care personnel, including EMTs, paramedics and home health workers
    • Long-term care facility residents
  • Phase 1B – Tier 1:
    • People ages 65 years and older (UC San Diego Health patients by invitation only or through San Diego County)
    • Starting Sat, Feb. 27: Frontline essential workers in Emergency Services, Childcare and Education, or Food and Agriculture (through employer or San Diego County)

Our distribution phases and tiers are based on county guidelines. For details and the latest information, see San Diego County vaccine phases (which are based on California guidelines). ​

Scheduling Your Second Dose

Depending on the vaccine you get, you should receive your second dose approximately 21 days later (for Pfizer vaccines) or 28 days later (for Moderna vaccines). You shouldn't have your second dose earlier than the recommended interval, but if you wait longer than the recommended window, that is OK. (Read more about delayed second doses.)

  • If you received your first dose through UC San Diego Health before Feb. 8, you received a scheduling ticket for your second dose in your MyUCSDChart account.  You can log in at any time and schedule it. Depending on vaccine availability, the first available appointment may be a few days after the recommended time between doses. This is OK. 
  • If you received your first dose through UC San Diego Health on or after Feb. 8, you will be automatically scheduled for your second dose at your first appointment. You can also log into MyUCSDChart to see your second appointment and reschedule if needed.
  • If you receive your first dose at a San Diego County location, follow the instructions you get at that location to schedule your second dose.

After Your Vaccination: Continue to Help Stop the Spread

A COVID-19 vaccine protects you from getting seriously ill from COVID-19. But researchers don't know yet whether it will prevent you from getting and spreading the coronavirus to others, or how long your immunity will last. Even after being vaccinated, please continue to follow public health guidelines to keep our friends, family and community safe. This includes:

  • Wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • Observing physical distancing (at least 6 feet)
  • Washing hands often and thoroughly
  • Registering on the CDC's v-safe website to report daily health checks and any side effects
  • Activating the state's CA Notify tool on your smartphone to learn about possible exposure
For more information on what to expect after your vaccination and what precautions to continue, see the CDC's What to Expect page, with handouts available in Arabic, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

About COVID-19 Vaccines

Two COVID-19 vaccines — from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — are available for adults in the U.S. Both are given in two doses, approximately 21 days apart for the Pfizer vaccine and approximately 28 days apart for the Moderna vaccine. Both vaccines are about 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic illness for COVID-19 within a few weeks of receiving both doses, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

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Getting Your Vaccine

Can I get on a vaccine waitlist? Will I be able to get a vaccine by calling my doctor?

No. Because our distribution plan is based on state and county guidelines, we do not have a waitlist for the vaccine. We will contact you when we are ready to schedule your vaccine.

Which vaccines will UC San Diego Health patients receive?

The FDA has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. We are receiving vaccine shipments from both companies. Both require two doses. Pfizer vaccines doses are scheduled roughly 21 days apart, and Moderna vaccine doses are scheduled roughly 28 days apart. All patients who go to Petco Park will receive Moderna vaccines. At RIMAC, patients could receive Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, depending on supply availability.

How do I reschedule a vaccination appointment?

If you scheduled your appointment at a UC San Diego Health location after receiving a MyUCSDChart scheduling ticket, you can cancel your appointment and a new ticket will be sent to your account automatically. Use the new ticket to select another date or time.

If you scheduled your first dose at Petco Park through the county website, you are only able to reschedule the first dose by canceling your appointment and checking the county website again to find another open slot.

If you scheduled your second dose at Petco Park through a MyUCSDChart scheduling ticket and need to reschedule, you can cancel your appointment and you will be sent a new MyUCSDChart ticket. Use the new ticket to select another date or time.

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

Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require two doses for your system to develop the best immune response. Pfizer vaccines doses are usually scheduled roughly 21 days apart, and Moderna vaccine doses are usually scheduled roughly 28 days apart. However, these recommended time intervals are not absolute.

You shouldn't get your second (booster) dose earlier than the recommended interval, but delaying the second dose by a few days or even weeks is OK if you have scheduling conflicts or if appointments are not available.

Growing evidence indicates that a delayed second dose does not cause harm or reduce the effectiveness of the first dose. Rather, it simply delays maximum immunity, which occurs approximately two weeks after the second dose. The CDC has offered additional guidance on delaying second doses, noting that people can wait up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose.

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 when it becomes available to me? Is it safe?

There are many benefits to getting vaccinated. 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 500,000 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.

How effective are COVID-19 vaccines?

The estimated full effectiveness rate for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — after two shots — is 95 percent, based on clinical trial data.

It is not known how the efficacy of the vaccine changes with longer intervals between injections. However, if there is a delay of a couple of weeks between doses, experts think the added time poses no safety or effectiveness issues.

How effective are current vaccines against the new U.K. and South African variants of the virus?

At this time, it is unclear how effective currently authorized vaccines are at protecting people against the new SARS-CoV-2 variants. Scientists are working to learn more about these variants, including whether they:

  • Spread more easily from person to person
  • Cause milder or more severe disease
  • Change the effectiveness of current COVID-19 vaccines

So far, studies suggest that antibodies developed through current COVID-19 vaccines recognize these new variants. More studies are underway.

While the CDC and other public health agencies monitor this situation closely, it is still important for everyone to limit the spread of the virus by getting the vaccine once it’s available to them, and continuing to wear masks, follow social distancing guidelines and maintain proper hand hygiene.

Am I immediately protected from COVID-19 after vaccination?

No. Data from the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials show that some protection from COVID-19 appears to begin approximately two weeks after the first injection. It is strongly recommended that everyone complete the two-dose regimen to fully boost immunity and stronger, longer-lasting protection.

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. The COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine that does not use any form of the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine itself cannot give you COVID-19. Get more information from the CDC.

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine teaches 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.

Precautions After Vaccination

What are the potential side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?

Some people may experience side effects such as injection site reactions, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, joint pain and fever. These temporary symptoms, however unpleasant, should not be alarming — and can be treated with pain relievers and fever-reducing medications, if needed.

They are a good sign that your body’s immune response system is building future protection.

Please remember:

  • Less than 0.5 percent of COVID-19 clinical trials participants reported serious adverse effects.
  • The adverse effects were temporary, usually mild to moderate in intensity, and resolved within a few days of vaccination.
  • They appear more likely after the second dose of the vaccine.

None of these side effects is unique to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer says there is a "remote chance" that its vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction, which would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the vaccine. If you have a history of allergic reactions, please inform your vaccination provider before inoculation.

Will I have to wear a mask after I get vaccinated?

Yes. While data suggest the vaccines are very effective, they are still not 100% effective, and we do not yet know how long immunity will last after getting the two required doses.

We should all continue wearing masks to keep ourselves and others safe, including many who haven't yet been or cannot be vaccinated. In addition, we should continue to follow social distancing, hand hygiene guidelines and all other recommendations and requirements from public health agencies. (Read our Mask Tips and FAQs and the CDC's Guide to Masks.)

Wearing a mask is mandatory at all UC San Diego facilities, from parking lots to testing tents to clinics.

We encourage you to get your flu shot to help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations during the pandemic. If you plan to get your flu shot or other vaccine, it is recommended that you schedule it no later than 2 weeks before nor earlier than 2 weeks after you receive your COVID-19 vaccine.


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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