COVID-19 updates, including vaccine information, for our patients and visitors Learn More


COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Patients

This page was updated on May 10, 2021. The FDA is expected to authorize the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12–15 soon. UC San Diego Health is prepared to start offering vaccines to this age group when the authorization is official. You'll be able to schedule through the link below. Be sure to schedule a Pfizer vaccine and have a parent or guardian at the appointment.

How to Schedule a Vaccine

Vaccinations are by appointment. You have several options:

  1. Schedule an appointment at UC San Diego Health

    Log into your MyUCSDChart account or use this scheduling link for appointments in Hillcrest (near UC San Diego Medical Center).

    Patients who are 16 or 17, please schedule a Pfizer vaccine and bring a parent or guardian to the appointment.

  2. Schedule an appointment at a county vaccination site or a pharmacy.

UC San Diego Health Vaccine Locations

  • Parking lot across from Medical Offices South, 4168 Front St., Hillcrest
    Walk-up only, no drive-up option. Appointment required.
    Free parking (90 minutes) in the Arbor parking structure at the end of Arbor Drive; choose Option 1 "Vaccine Appt" at pay station. Handicapped parking is available in Lot 964 near the walk-up vaccination site. See printable map.
    Public transportation: Several bus routes serve UC San Diego Health's Hillcrest locations, with free rides available from MTS.
  • Recreation, Intramural and Athletic Complex (RIMAC) on UC San Diego campus (North Central Super Station)
    Walk-in only, no drive-up option. Appointment required.
    Free parking in Hopkins Parking Structure, 9746 Hopkins Drive, La Jolla.
    See 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.

Scheduling Your Second Dose

You should receive your second dose approximately 21 days later (for Pfizer vaccines) or 28 days later (for Moderna vaccines). Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines do not require a second dose. You shouldn't have your second dose earlier than the recommended interval, but if you wait longer, that is OK. (Read more about delayed second doses.) If you received your first dose through UC San Diego Health, 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.

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

+ Expand All

Getting Your Vaccine

Which vaccines will UC San Diego Health patients receive?

Three COVID-19 vaccines — from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) — are available for adults in the U.S. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in two doses, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is given in one dose. All three vaccines are extremely effective at preventing severe illness for COVID-19 within a few weeks of receiving the complete dosage, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Appointments for any of the three vaccines are available. When you make your appointment, you will be able to see which vaccine you are scheduling. If you receive a two-dose vaccine, both doses will be from the same manufacturer.

To read FDA patient information sheets for each vaccine, use these links:

How do I reschedule a vaccination appointment?

Look for the "Reschedule" option in your MyUCSDChart account or call 800-926-8273. You must have an appointment for that day to be vaccinated.

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?

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?

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. 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
  • If you need care for other reasons, please visit our Make an Appointment page.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information Videos

Video: Expert answers COVID-19 vaccine questions in English Video: Expert answers COVID-19 vaccine questions in Spanish

Watch more videos about coronavirus