The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization (EUA) to two COVID-19 vaccines: one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and another produced by Moderna. The distribution of both vaccines began in the United States in December.
A third vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, received EUA on Feb. 27, 2021 and began nationwide in March. On April 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement recommending a pause in distribution of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine out of caution as they investigate reported cases of Americans who developed a rare and serious blood clot after receiving the J&J vaccine. Currently, these blood clots appear to be rare. The pause will allow federal health officials to investigate the cases and make further recommendations. For more information, view the statement from the CDC and FDA.
Other potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in development and could seek authorization later.
UPMC began to receive doses of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines in December, and we continue to receive them. At UPMC, we are committed to the safety of our communities in our vaccination efforts. We are following federal guidance in the distribution of the J&J vaccine and paused any distribution of the J&J vaccine on April 13, 2021, pending the CDC investigation. Our goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, with the supply available to us.
At this time, the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory for UPMC employees. We are excited about the reports of the vaccine's effectiveness and safety.
UPMC is offering vaccinations to frontline health care personnel who are not affiliated with a hospital or health system. To request vaccination for your organization, practice, or group, please review all information and instructions found at UPMC.com/HealthCareVaccine.
UPMC is distributing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at this time. We are vaccinating people with the available supply we have.
UPMC is following federal guidance in the distribution of the J&J vaccine and paused use of the J&J vaccine on April 13, 2021, pending the CDC investigation.
Please do not contact your doctor at this time regarding COVID-19 vaccine availability or scheduling. The best way to register for your COVID-19 vaccine is by visiting Vaccine.UPMC.com and following the registration directions..
If you have limited access to online services, or you need assistance in registering, you can call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week.
UPMC locations in Pennsylvania
As of April 13, 2021, all Pennsylvanians 16 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are eligible for vaccination, we encourage you to schedule a vaccine appointment with UPMC.
For more information on who is eligible, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.
Under guidance from New York state officials, we are vaccinating people who are eligible under the New York State Department of Health website.
If you are a New York resident, you can call 833-697-4829 or visit ny.gov/vaccine for information about vaccine distribution. If you live in Chautauqua County, you can call 866-604-6789 or visit chqgov.com for vaccine distribution information in your county.
UPMC Western Maryland
Under guidance from Maryland state officials, we are vaccinating people who are eligible in Phases 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, and 2b. All Maryland residents age 16 and older also can register for a COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination event.
For a list of who meets criteria for those phases, visit the Maryland Department of Health website. If you are a Maryland resident and have questions about the vaccine, call 855-MD-GoVAX (855-634-6829), or visit covidlink.maryland.gov.
If you would like to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from UPMC, you can schedule an appointment.
If you have limited access to online services or technology like a computer or smartphone, or if you need help in registering, you can call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. An operator will register you over the phone, and we will contact you about scheduling an appointment when the vaccine is available. Please note: We expect high call volume on this line. To keep this option open to those who need it most, please use the online registration process if you can.
Once you register for a COVID-19 vaccine from UPMC, you are on the list. If you provided an email address, you will receive a confirmation email. We may contact you with emails, text messages, or phone calls, depending upon the contact information you provided. Phone calls will be from UPMC call specialists. Emails and text messages will come from UPMC’s Certify Care system. You will see the name "Certify" within the email address and text messages. We will ask for important health information to prepare for your vaccine. This may include questions about allergies and history of COVID-19 illness and treatment.
If you are having trouble completing your important health information or scheduling your vaccine appointment using UPMC’s Certify Care system, or have questions about using the system, please call 1-833-299-4360.
At this time, there is no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine
We strongly encourage everyone in our communities to take other COVID-19 prevention actions, including:
These activities can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and save lives.
No. You must get your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from the same provider where you got the first. Second doses are given to vaccine sites based on first doses, so your vaccine provider will have your second dose.
For the same reason, if you received your first dose of the vaccine at UPMC, you must return to UPMC for your second dose.
The recommended date to get the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days after your first dose. The recommended date to get the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is 28 days after your first dose. You should not get your second dose before that time.
The CDC says you should get your second dose as closely as possible to the recommended date. However, if it is not possible to get the second dose on that exact date, you still can receive it later. According to the CDC, you can receive the second dose of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines up to six weeks after your first dose.
Each COVID-19 vaccine dose should be separated by at least 14 days from other vaccines. Example: You are scheduled to get your first Shingrix (shingles) vaccine dose on January 3, 2021. You should wait to receive your first COVID-19 vaccine dose until January 17 or later.
You should not get the vaccine if you are currently infected with COVID-19, if you have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you have another respiratory illness. If you have symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19, you should not get vaccinated until you meet the CDC’s guidelines for ending isolation. Talk to your provider about rescheduling.
If you have another respiratory illness, talk to your provider about when it is safe for you to receive the vaccine.
According to data reported by Pfizer and Moderna, both vaccines are more than 94% effective in preventing COVID-19.
The vaccines exceed the efficacy benchmark for emergency use authorization. All are highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death. The effectiveness of the vaccine will continue to be monitored as distribution continues.
The FDA has reviewed the safety and efficacy of these vaccines before issuing an emergency use authorization, which authorizes their use in the U.S.
Even after the EUA, these vaccines are undergoing additional studies to confirm the vaccine's safety, effectiveness, or possible side effects.
The most common side effects to the vaccines include pain and swelling where you received the shot, fever, chills, fatigue, and headache. These are common for many vaccines because a vaccine triggers an immune response. The side effects should go away within a few days.
There have been some reports of isolated allergic reactions to the vaccine, which scientists are investigating. Allergic reactions to vaccines are not common and are typically mild.
The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA-based. If you previously had an allergic reaction to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the vaccine. If you had an allergic reaction to the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC does not recommend that you get the second dose.
If you have a history of anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, vaccine component, or injectable medication, you should consult your primary care physician or allergist before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that pregnant and lactating women should be able to get the vaccine if they fall into one of the distribution groups. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant and are wondering if you should get the vaccine.
Like any vaccine, getting the COVID-19 vaccine is your personal choice. You can choose to get it or not when it becomes available to you. However, getting the vaccine can protect both you and the people around you, including our most vulnerable individuals. The vaccine is a crucial step to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available for patients under 16. Clinical studies of these vaccines focused on those 16 and older, so additional data is needed.
If you participated in a COVID-19 vaccine trial, contact the study coordinator, who can tell you if you have received a vaccine or placebo. If you received a placebo (not active vaccine), the study coordinators will let you know the next steps to get vaccinated. The trial may offer the vaccine as part of the study or recommend you receive the vaccine at UPMC.