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COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Patients

Latest update: We're offering an additional booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to qualified individuals. Learn more and see if you’re eligible.

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

We are offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone who is eligible, based on government recommendations. This includes first and second doses for those ages 5 and up, as well as booster and additional shots for those ages 12 and up.

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

Schedule your COVID-19 vaccine

Notes:

  • If you have a MyUCSDChart account, log in to quickly finish scheduling. Otherwise, you'll receive an activation code to create a MyUCSDChart account before your appointment time.
  • You may 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. If you do not have insurance, you will still get a vaccine and will not be responsible for any costs.
  • At appointments for 5- to 11-year-olds, each dose is one-third the amount given to adults and we use smaller needles that are designed especially for kids.
  • Learn how to get info about all your doses and access your digital vaccine record through your MyUCSDChart account.

Who’s Eligible for COVID-19 Booster Doses?

Booster Vaccine for Our Patients

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

Initial booster: All people who are 12 and older are eligible for their first COVID-19 booster shot if they meet the following criteria:

  • Children and teens ages 12 to 17 may get the Pfizer vaccine booster if it has been five months since their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine series.
  • Adults 18 and older may get any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. if it has been five months since their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series or two months since their Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.

Additional booster: Certain individuals are eligible for an additional COVID-19 booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine if they meet the following criteria:

  • Adults ages 50 and older, if it has been four months since their initial booster dose
  • All adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of the J&J vaccine at least four months ago

Schedule your 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 booster dose three months after third dose of initial vaccine series
  • Additional booster dose four months after initial booster dose

Johnson & Johnson schedule

  • One dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine as the initial vaccine (only in some cases)
  • One additional dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine two months after initial vaccine
  • One booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna three months after additional dose
  • Additional booster dose four months after initial booster dose

For more information, read 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 or want a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, call us at 800-926-8273.

Schedule your COVID-19 booster dose

Who’s Eligible for a First or Second COVID-19 Vaccine Dose?

Adults and children 5 and older are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Children 5–17 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Other people can receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in limited cases. You're considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing a two-dose Moderna or Pfizer series or one dose of the J&J vaccine.

Schedule your COVID-19 first or second dose

More Information

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.

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/Janssen vaccine. Until then, follow CDC guidelines to protect yourself and other people. You can also help by registering on the CDC's v-safe website to report daily health checks and any side effects.

After vaccination, we encourage you to continue taking safety precautions, especially in some public settings. For details, see steps to take after you're fully vaccinated.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

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COVID-19 Vaccines for Your Children Ages 5–11

Which vaccine will my child get?

Currently, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for children in the U.S. The dosage depends on the child’s age on the day of vaccination, not on their weight.

  • Children ages 5 to 11 years receive one-third of the adult dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Smaller needles, designed specifically for children, are used.
  • Adolescents ages 12 years and older receive the same dosage of Pfizer vaccine as adults.

How many doses should my child receive, and how far apart should they be scheduled?

Two doses, given at least three weeks apart.

However, scheduling the second dose between three and six weeks after the first dose is reasonable within CDC guidelines. Although clinical trial data reflect a three-week gap between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, more recent research suggests that a longer gap between doses may offer stronger immunity.

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

Vaccinating your child is the best way of protecting them from serious COVID-19 illness. Research has shown that the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective among children with no serious side effects, according to the CDC.

  • The COVID-19 vaccine can help protect children from short- and long-term health complications from COVID-19, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), 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 show that 30 percent of kids hospitalized with COVID-19 had no underlying medical conditions. It is also important to note that COVID-19 is a top 10 cause of death for kids in the United States.

Like all other vaccines given to school-aged children, the COVID-19 vaccine also helps keep your community safe by preventing your child from spreading the coronavirus to others.

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

Vaccine side effects are normal signs that the body is building protection. Your child may experience similar side effects as those in 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.

Studies show that more kids reported side effects after the second COVID-19 dose compared to the first dose. Experts do not expect long-term side effects.

How safe are the COVID-19 vaccines?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children, according to the CDC and medical experts. Also, serious health issues after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.

COVID-19 vaccines have undergone — and will continue to undergo — the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, and its benefits outweigh any known and potential risks. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine, including the Pfizer vaccine.

These vaccines have gone through all three of the required phases before receiving authorization and approval. It was possible to complete the process in just nine months through a focus on expertise, resources and decades of previous work.

Should my children receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they have had a COVID-19 infection?

Yes, we recommend that your children receive the COVID-19 vaccine — after they have fully recovered — even if they’ve had a COVID-19 infection. If your child received monoclonal antibody treatment, we recommend they wait 90 days to get vaccinated.

The immunity after a COVID-19 infection can decrease over time, and the vaccine strengthens the immune response that further protects your child from a repeat infection.

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

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Getting Your Booster Vaccine Shot

Should I get an additional booster dose if I am eligible to receive it?

Yes. CDC recommendations allow certain immunocompromised individuals and all adults who are 50 years and older to receive an additional COVID-19 booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine if it has been four months since their initial booster dose.

In addition, adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 4 months ago are also eligible for an additional booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

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. Currently, we are offering all approved boosters.

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

Are you still offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Yes, but the usage is limited by the CDC, which recommends the two mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) over the Johnson & Johnson product.

The J&J vaccine may be used as an alternate only if the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are not accessible or if people are allergic to them. See CDC guidance on who can receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Are there side effects for 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 two-shot series, and most symptoms were mild to moderate. See information for potential side effects for 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 (who has completed the initial vaccine series) gets infected with COVID-19.

Current evidence shows that vaccination after infection generates a strong immune response and helps increase protection from illness from future variants. Information is lacking about if and how the timeframe between infection and vaccination or boosters affects immune response.

You may receive a booster once you recover from a COVID-19 infection, complete the recommended isolation, and no longer have symptoms.

  • For those who are immunocompromised or age 50 and older, we recommend a booster vaccine approximately 30-90 days after a breakthrough COVID-19 infection.
  • For non-immunocompromised individuals ages 12-49, it's safe to wait a couple of months after breakthrough infection to get a booster vaccine, as there is increasing data suggesting that the infection acts as a booster.

These recommendations are subject to change. Check the CDC website for more information and updates.

Will I have to pay for COVID-19 booster doses?

No. Based on federal government guidelines, you will not have to pay out of pocket for the vaccine.

UC San Diego Health will collect insurance information, but there’s no out-of-pocket expense for you. If you don’t have insurance, you can still get the vaccine for free.

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

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two initial doses, with an interval that the CDC currently says can be extended up to 42 days. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require a second dose — and even the first dose is recommended only in limited cases.)

However, infectious disease researchers and physicians at UC San Diego Health and UC San Diego School of Medicine, along 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. Studies of the dosing interval for COVID-19 vaccines continue.

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 under the under "My Record," 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 tetanus shot, flu shot, pneumonia shot or shingles vaccine)?

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

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

Yes. You should get vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19. People who’ve already had COVID-19 and don't get vaccinated after recovery are more likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after recovery.

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 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.

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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 authorized for use in the U.S. 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, almost 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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 Video: COVID-19 Vaccine: Ages 5 to 11

Watch more videos about coronavirus