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COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Patients

Last updated Jan. 26, 2021. Please note: The county's Petco Park Vaccination Super Station will reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 27. All appointments from Monday, Jan. 25, and Tuesday, Jan. 26, have been automatically rescheduled — Monday appointments for the same time on Thursday, and Tuesday appointments for the same time on Saturday. Please check your MyUCSDChart account for details. (If you need to activate your MyUCSDChart account, check the email you received after scheduling your initial appointment.) For more information, see San Diego County Vaccination Appointments.

Vaccinations Through UC San Diego Health

We have begun scheduling vaccinations for UC San Diego Health patients who are 65 years and older. Because of limited and fluctuating vaccine supplies, we are first contacting our patients who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection. As we receive more vaccine supplies, we will be able to increase our capacity.

When we are ready to schedule your vaccination, we will notify you through your MyUCSDChart account or by telephone if you don't have an account.

  • Please do not call; instead wait for your invitation to avoid overwhelming our phone lines and to allow us to continue caring for patients.
  • Because our distribution plan follows county guidelines, we are not establishing a vaccine waitlist.
  • If you don't yet have one, please create a MyUCSDChart account now. Although we will contact you by telephone if you do not use the portal, we encourage MyUCSDChart because of the ease of online self-scheduling.

If you are a patient of another health care system, please wait for a message from your own care provider.

San Diego County Vaccination Options

San Diego County is now offering vaccination appointments for health care workers and people who are 65 and over. Patients in these categories may wish to schedule their vaccine at a county vaccination site rather than wait for a UC San Diego Health invitation. The county's appointment times are very limited, and we cannot schedule these appointments for you. To check for open appointments, go to San Diego County Vaccination Appointments.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Phases

Vaccination phases follow public health guidelines and depend on vaccine supplies. The highest-risk individuals, including people 65 and over and health care or essential workers, 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
  • Plus:
    • People ages 65 years and older (UC San Diego Health patients by invitation only or through San Diego County)

Distribution phases and tiers are as of Jan. 23, 2021. For 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 schedule your second dose approximately 21 days later (for Pfizer vaccines) or 28 days later (for Moderna vaccines).

Sometime after receiving your first dose through UC San Diego Health, you will receive a notice through your MyUCSDChart account to schedule your next dose. However, you may not see any open appointment times until about three days before your next dose is due. Please wait until that time to log into MyUCSDChart and self-schedule. You’ll also have a message in your MyUCSDChart account with step-by-step instructions.

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.

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). For more details, see Vaccine FAQs.

Help Stop the Virus Spread

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
  • Activating the state's CA Notify tool on your smartphone to learn about possible exposure

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

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Can I get on a vaccine waitlist? Will I be able to get the 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.

Why should I get the 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.

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 420,000 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.

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.

How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?

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.

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

Yes. We will continue wearing masks to keep ourselves and everyone 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.

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 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.

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

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

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.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

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.

Can I get the vaccine if I've already had COVID-19?

Yes. Once you are recovered from COVID, you can choose to get vaccinated. However, you can consider the timing of your vaccine. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired.

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 the 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.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine 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.

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, a new variant has prompted concern that it is more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains. It is not yet clear whether the current COVID-19 vaccines, approved or in trials, are equally effective against new variants, though vaccine makers say they offer some protection. Research is ongoing.

Where can I get more information about COVID-19 vaccines?


Other COVID-19 Information

  • 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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