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COVID-19 Vaccine at UC San Diego Health

Oct. 27, 2022 update: We're now offering updated COVID-19 boosters for eligible people ages 5 and up. We also offer the original vaccination series — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Novavax — for those ages 6 months and older.

UC San Diego Health is proud to have delivered more than 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the San Diego community.

You can get your vaccines and boosters at our drive-up location in La Jolla even if you’re not a UC San Diego Health patient. Use this link to select a date and time based on your vaccine type and age group:

Schedule your COVID-19 vaccine or booster

Notes:

  • If you have a MyUCSDChart account, log in to quickly finish scheduling.
  • You will be required to show a photo ID at UC San Diego Health vaccine sites.
  • We’ll collect insurance information and may contact you by phone to verify it or check details, but there’s no out-of-pocket expense to you.
  • Learn how to get info about all your doses and access your digital vaccine record through your MyUCSDChart account.
  • Read COVID-19 vaccine FAQs.

COVID-19 Initial Series Vaccine for Kids Ages 6 Months and Older

All children ages 6 months and older are now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. These primary series shots are also known as monovalent vaccines because they target only the original coronavirus strain. 

We use needles that are designed especially for kids. Children get a smaller dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than teens and adults, which is the right amount for their age group. The vaccine dosage does not vary by patient weight, but by age on the day of vaccination.

  • For children ages 6 months to 5 years — Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (monovalent)
    • Three-dose primary series of Pfizer, with the first and second doses separated by 3–8 weeks and the second and third doses separated by at least 8 weeks
      OR
      Two-dose primary series of Moderna, given 4–8 weeks apart.
    • Each dose is one-tenth the amount given to adults.
  • For children ages 5 to 17 years — Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (monovalent)
    • Two-dose primary series of Pfizer, given 3–8 weeks apart
      OR
      Two-dose primary series of Moderna, given 4–8 weeks apart.
    • Each dose is one-third the amount given to adults.

Although clinical trial data reflects a three-week gap between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, more recent data suggest that a longer gap between doses may offer stronger immunity. 

Schedule your child's initial series COVID-19 vaccine

More Information

  • The CDC also recommends that children ages 5 and up should get a booster shot, if eligible. For immunocompromised children, check CDC’s recommendations.
  • Read our FAQs about COVID-19 vaccines for children.
  • If you're a UC San Diego Health patient and have more questions, please schedule an appointment with your primary care physician by calling 800-926-8273.

Who’s Eligible for Updated COVID-19 Booster Doses?

Booster Vaccine for Our Patients

The new, updated boosters are recommended for anyone 5 or older who has completed their primary coronavirus vaccination series. These boosters are also called bivalent shots, meaning they target both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus strain and recent Omicron subvariants.

CDC’s recommendations for booster doses:

  • For those ages 6 and older: Moderna’s updated booster (bivalent), two months after their last dose (primary or booster)
  • For those ages 5 and older: Pfizer’s updated booster (bivalent), two months after their last dose (primary or booster)

Schedule your updated COVID-19 booster dose

Vaccine Schedule for Immunocompromised Patients

The CDC recommends that moderately to severely immunocompromised people, who are more susceptible to infection, follow one of these vaccination schedules:

Pfizer/Moderna schedule

  • Three doses of Pfizer or Moderna as the initial vaccine series
  • One updated booster dose (bivalent) two months after the last dose (primary or booster)

For more information, read our FAQs on getting your booster vaccine. If you’re an immunocompromised patient at UC San Diego Health and still have questions about whether you’re eligible for a booster shot, call us at 800-926-8273.

Schedule your COVID-19 booster dose

Digital Vaccine and Testing Records

You can see information about all your vaccine doses and access a digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccine records or COVID-19 test results through our MyUCSDChart patient portal. 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.

The 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 see your vaccine doses and access the QR code for your vaccine record or test results:

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

Updating your records: 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 your MyUCSDChart account 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.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

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COVID-19 Vaccines for Your Children Ages 6 months and Older

Why should I have my child or teen vaccinated for COVID-19?

Like all vaccines given to children, the COVID-19 vaccine helps prevent your child from getting sick and spreading COVID-19 in our community.

Getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19 also can help protect them from short- and long-term health complications from COVID-19, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a condition in which parts of the body can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.

COVID-19 infections in children can range from no symptoms to severe illness. However, data shows that 30 percent of kids hospitalized with COVID-19 had no underlying medical conditions.

What are the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine for children?

Your child may experience similar side effects as those of adults who received the vaccine, including fever, fatigue, headaches, chills, or muscle and joint pain. The most common side effect is soreness of the arm where the shot was given.

These side effects are normal signs that the body is building protection. Studies show that more kids reported side effects after the second dose compared to the first dose, which means that their immune system is reacting more strongly based on its recognition of the vaccine’s first dose.

What should I know about myocarditis (heart inflammation) associated with the COVID-19 vaccine?

Rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) have been reported after the COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 12 to 17 years. In one study, the risk of myocarditis after the second dose of Pfizer in the week following vaccination was about 54 cases per million doses administered to males ages 12 to 17 years.

Children who developed myocarditis after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine have fully recovered; no children have died from myocarditis associated with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Can my child get other vaccines, including the flu shot, at the same time?

Yes, your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including the flu vaccine, at the same time.

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Getting Your Booster Vaccine Shot

Do my booster doses have to be from the same company as my initial vaccine?

No. The CDC has authorized a mix-and-match approach, so you can select which brand of booster vaccine you want while scheduling your appointment.

For immunocompromised people ages 12–17, however, the CDC recommends that the vaccine used for the booster doses should be the same as the vaccine used for the initial vaccine series.

Are there side effects of the booster doses?

Any vaccine can have side effects. So far, the reactions reported after the additional dose have been similar to those after the primary series, and most symptoms were mild to moderate. See information on potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.

I had a breakthrough COVID-19 infection. Do I need a booster? How long should I wait?

A breakthrough infection refers to a situation when a fully vaccinated person gets infected with COVID-19. Read more about the possibility of breakthrough infections.

You may receive a booster once you recover from a COVID-19 infection, complete the recommended isolation, and no longer have symptoms. Waiting up to three months can be beneficial as the infection boosts your immunity for a short while.

For information on boosters for immunocompromised individuals, check out CDC’s recommendations.

Can I get my COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine at the same time?

Yes, but you have to schedule separate appointments for the approximate time at the same location for your flu shot and COVID-19 booster vaccine.

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Getting Your First or Second Vaccine Dose

What are the different types of COVID-19 vaccines offered at UC San Diego Health?

These initial series of shots are also known as monovalent vaccines because they target only the original coronavirus strain. We offer:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech, a two-dose messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine
  • Moderna, a two-dose mRNA vaccine
  • Novavax, a two-dose protein subunit vaccine

Read more information about COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC.

How is Novavax different from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?

All these vaccines have one thing in common: They train our bodies to quickly recognize the "spike proteins" on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. Our immune system then learns to produce antibodies to defend against the real virus.

The difference is in the technology used to deliver the vaccines.

Moderna and Pfizer: These two messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines use the newest mechanism for vaccine development. A genetic recipe is injected to teach our cells how to make a harmless piece of the spike protein and then activate an immune response to fight the real virus. It’s impossible for mRNA to change DNA. The mRNA never enters the center of the cell where the DNA is located. Once the mRNA makes the spike protein, the mRNA is destroyed.

Novavax: This protein subunit vaccine uses much older technology. This traditional, protein-based vaccine combines synthetic spike proteins and an adjuvant, which is an immune stimulant used to provoke an immune response against the COVID-19 virus. Instead of injecting the genetic recipe to make the protein, the protein is actually injected along with the stimulant.

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," then "My Record" and select "COVID-19" or "Immunizations and Screening."

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

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

Yes, you can get a COVID-19 vaccination even if you had another recent vaccination.

Should children and adults still get a vaccine if they've already had COVID-19?

Yes, we recommend that you get the COVID-19 vaccine even if you've had COVID-19 — but get it after you’ve fully recovered. The immunity after a COVID-19 infection can decrease over time, and the vaccine strengthens the immune response that further protects you and your child from a repeat infection.

It’s important to note that the ideal timing of receiving the vaccine remains unclear. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus is extremely uncommon but that vaccination after infection can help protect from a broader variety of COVID variants.

It's 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 monoclonal antibody therapy. 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.

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Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness

How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine? Why should I get vaccinated?

It is important to emphasize that the COVID-19 vaccines have gone through all the required phases before receiving authorization and approval. These vaccines have undergone — and will continue to undergo — the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.

There are many benefits to getting vaccinated, including being protected from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized and even dying.

So far, more than 1 million people have died in the United States alone from COVID-19, including many who were young and did not have underlying medical conditions, as well as people who were not vaccinated. The risk of infection, hospitalization and death are all much lower in vaccinated people compared to the unvaccinated, according to the CDC.

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?

Vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19, including the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death among people who are fully vaccinated.

While COVID-19 vaccines are effective, studies have shown vaccine protection declines over time, especially as new coronavirus variants emerge. Learn more about getting a booster shot to enhance or restore protection against COVID-19.

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.

What are the potential side effects of 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 they have not been observed as serious or long-lasting.

Reactions to vaccines are common — they indicate the expected immune response. Experts say the vaccines are safe. Side effects may be more common after the second dose.

Am I immediately protected from COVID-19 after vaccination?

No. It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination, so continue to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 infection. You can read CDC's FAQs on being fully vaccinated,

After vaccination, you can also help to stop the spread by registering on the CDC's v-safe website to report daily health checks and any side effects. We encourage you to continue taking safety precautions, especially in some public settings.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines?

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States contain the live virus that causes the disease. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine facts and myths.


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 in English and Spanish

Video: COVID-19 Booster and Vaccines: Doctor Answers Your Questions Video: Refuerzo y Vacunas COVID-19: Un Doctor Responde sus Preguntas

Watch more videos about coronavirus