COVID-19 Vaccine Updates: What to Know

COVID-19 Vaccine Header

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates: What to Know

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Welcome to the UTHealth and UT Physicians COVID-19 vaccine information page. As part of being named a COVID-19 Vaccine Hub in Harris County by the Texas State Department of Health Services, UTHealth is distributing the vaccine to community members who qualify according to federal and state guidelines.

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, individuals ages 12 to 17 are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, while those ages 18 and older are eligible for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Older individuals or those considered high risk of severe illness will still be given priority for appointments.

UTHealth Hub Vaccine appointments

For the general public, including UT Physicians patients, UTHealth has real-time scheduling for all individuals ages 12 and up to secure an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals who are under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent/guardian to receive the vaccine. Please check back often as we update availability.

Have questions?

In the section below, please read the answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. The answers have been provided by our physicians who are on the faculty at McGovern Medical School.



Patient Resources

Moderna Fact Sheets

Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Fact Sheets


COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your interest in receiving the vaccine. If you are a patient of UT Physicians, you will receive an email or text message to schedule an online appointment when available. If you are not a patient of UT Physicians, please contact your primary care physician for availability. You can also access additional opportunities through community pharmacies and state/city vaccination hubs. UTHealth strongly recommends receiving the vaccine to reach immunity within our community.

Currently, multiple vaccine candidates are going through clinical trials (the scientific process by which a vaccine is tested for effectiveness and safety) and regulatory review. At this time, three vaccine candidates, produced by Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), have received Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While Moderna and Pfizer require two doses to be effective, J&J is a single-dose.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, even in an Emergency Use Authorization situation, prioritizes health and safety.
  • Both the Pfizer and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should not be administered to individuals with a known history of a severe allergic reaction to previous vaccines, to any component of the vaccine, or to the first dose of this vaccine, without additional clinical evaluation.
  • The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine is not recommended for individuals who have experienced an allergic reaction to any ingredient of their vaccine. Ingredients are listed on the J&J fact sheet above under patient resources.
  • Immunocompromised people, including individuals receiving immunosuppressant therapy, may have a diminished immune response.
    • Adverse reactions reported in vaccine trials were mild and included: injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, injection site swelling, injection site redness, nausea, malaise (generally not feeling well), and lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes).
  • There is a remote chance the Moderna and J&J COVID-19 vaccines could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after receiving a dose. For this reason, the UTHealth Vaccine Hub will be monitoring patients after they receive their vaccine as per our safety protocol. Recipients are monitored between 15 to 30 minutes for reactions.

  • Yes, eventually. Though several steps have been taken to streamline the process and reduce regulatory obstacles, the underlying full approval process remains the same. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. EUA occurs if there’s evidence that strongly suggests patients have benefitted from a treatment or test and the treatment is safe, but not all regulatory steps have been completed. Other vaccines that are in the pipeline will also likely be granted EUA before receiving full approval.
  • The FDA, state health departments, drug producers, and independent physicians and researchers will monitor and track a wide variety of data once the vaccine is available to continue to learn about the drugs’ safety and effectiveness.

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the virus that causes COVID-19.

Pfizer and Moderna received the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in December 2021. Johnson & Johnson received EUA on Feb. 27, 2021. Vaccine supplies are becoming more widely available for those in the federal and state approved priority groups.

Tell your vaccination provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you have allergies, fever, a bleeding disorder, pregnancy, breastfeeding, you have received another COVID-19 vaccine or you are immunocompromised.

When considering whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends consulting with your primary care provider if you are pregnant or nursing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that, regardless of a past COVID-19 infection, you get vaccinated, unless you have had this infection within the previous 10 days. In those cases, you should defer vaccination until fully recovered.

Before deciding to receive a vaccine, we recommend you discuss it with the investigator for your clinical trial.

Due the unprecedented need created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and manufacturers, supported by government investment, took the unusual step of creating manufacturing capacity before drugs were fully approved.

We will follow the guidance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that during the pandemic people continue to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth, even if they have received the vaccine. People who have trouble breathing or who are unable to remove a mask without assistance should not wear a mask.

This is difficult to answer at this time based on a number of factors: the production schedule for the vaccines, the need to vaccinate highly vulnerable populations (people with preexisting conditions, congregate senior-care settings, individuals over age 65, etc.) and a distribution strategy for a drug that requires careful (cold) storage and two doses.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization allows for the use of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in adults 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people ages 12 and older.

No.

  • The clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed that a two-dose model was most effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
  • For the Moderna vaccine, a second dose is required at least 28 days after the first dose. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose at least 21 days after the first. Your return visit will be scheduled at your first vaccine appointment.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.

This is a question that has not yet been resolved; the medical community and vaccine producers will continue to study effectiveness and immunity levels to better understand the long-term vaccination strategy.

Yes. It will be important for everyone to continue wearing masks, washing their hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others while experts learn more about COVID-19 vaccines under real-life conditions.

Masking, physical distancing, handwashing, and other measures will remain critical as rolling vaccines occur and the medical community continues to learn more about the longevity and effectiveness of the immunization effort.

Getting the vaccine is not mandatory, although we encourage you to get it as soon as it is offered to you. If you have questions, we recommend you discuss this further with your health care provider so that you can make the most informed decision.

As more data on its effectiveness and safety become available, we will be able to know whether additional doses will be needed.

Getting vaccinated is strongly encouraged, but is not mandatory. If you decline the vaccine now, that doesn’t mean you can’t get it in the future.

When a vaccine is authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization, they do not have an official Vaccine Information Statement. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, together with the manufacturer, will provide a fact sheet when you are vaccinated. This fact sheet is similar to a standard Vaccine Information Sheet.

Yes, these vaccines are not made with any egg components. A history of egg allergy is not a contraindication to vaccination against COVID-19.