Ending COVID-19 starts with you. It is important to get the vaccine as soon as it is available to you. The vaccine is the best tool we have to end COVID-19. Please speak with your doctor if you have any questions. Visit umms.org/vaccine for more information.

Before You Make an Appointment

Before you get the COVID-19 vaccine, it is important to talk to your doctor about any health issues. This is to make sure it is safe for you to get the vaccine.

Talk to your doctor if you:

  • Have allergies (see additional information below)
  • Have a fever
  • Have a bleeding problem or are taking a blood thinner
  • Have a weak immune system (your body doesn't fight infections well)
  • Are taking medicines that affect your immune system
  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Have gotten another COVID-19 vaccine

History of Allergies:

An immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a vaccine or injectable medicine is considered a precaution by the CDC. In other words, you may be at higher risk of having a reaction to the vaccine. If you have a history of immediate or severe allergic reaction to anything – especially another vaccine or injectable medicine – it is strongly recommended you talk to your doctor before getting the vaccine. This is so your doctor can confirm it is safe for you to get the vaccine.

Your doctor can help you weigh the possible risk of anaphylaxis following COVID-19 vaccination with your risk of getting COVID-19. Things to consider before you get the vaccine:

  • Are you at high risk of being exposed to COVID-19?
    • Are you at higher risk of exposure because you live in a congregate setting or long-term care facility?
    • Do you work in a job that is high risk (for example, frontline health care, grocery stores, public transit)?
  • If you were to get COVID-19, what is your risk of developing serious illness?
    • Does your age group and/or underlying medical conditions (for example, diabetes, obesity) put you at higher risk for severe COVID-19?
  • Have you recently recovered from COVID-19 (within the past 90 days)?

You cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine if you:

  • Are allergic to any component of any of the COVID-19 vaccines. Please see the Food and Drug Administration EUA Fact Sheets for Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for a list of ingredients.
  • Are under the age of 18 for the Moderna or J&J vaccine.
  • Are under the age of 12 for the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Are sick with a fever or serious illness.
  • If you have had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the two-dose vaccines, you cannot receive the second dose.
  • Have been treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma therapy in the 90 days before your appointment.
  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the 10 days before your appointment.
  • Have an active COVID-19 infection at the time of your appointment. If you are in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, please reschedule your appointment. This is important so you do not give COVID-19 to other people.

Getting Ready for Your Shot

Below is a checklist of things to do on the day of your shot. Please do these things before you go to the vaccination site. If you are getting a two-dose vaccine, this checklist will help you get ready for both your first and second shot.

  • Proof of appointment (printed or electronic) is required.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat something before your appointment. These things may help prevent you from feeling sick after your shot.
  • Remember to wear short sleeves under your jacket. This is so there is easy access to your upper arm, where you will get the shot.
  • The vaccine is free. If you do not have insurance, you will still get the vaccine.
  • Everyone must wear a mask in the vaccination site at all times.
  • Anyone age 12-17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to be vaccinated (first and second doses). The parent or guardian will sign the consent form; verbal consent is not allowed.
  • Please do not bring anyone to your appointment. There are two exceptions:
    • Parent or guardian for anyone ages 12-17
    • Individuals with a disability may bring one designated support person. This applies to people who have a physical or mental impairment that greatly limits one or more major life activities.
  • Please do not come to the vaccination site if you are feeling sick or if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within 10 days of your appointment. We cannot give you the vaccine if you are sick. Please reschedule your appointment for when you are no longer sick.
  • If you are getting a two-dose vaccine, look at your personal and work schedules before your first appointment. Come to your appointment ready to schedule your second shot.
    • The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is given in two doses, at least 21 days apart. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is given in two doses, at least 28 days apart. You must get both doses. Full protection is usually reached two weeks (14 days) after your second shot.
    • If you get a one-dose vaccine, you do not need a second shot. Full protection is reached two weeks (14 days) after your first shot.

Getting Your Shot

  • Before you get the COVID-19 vaccine, you will have to answer screening questions. Please be ready to answer questions about your medical history. This includes any known health issues and allergies.
  • You will need to read and sign the consent form to get the vaccine.
  • You will not be able to choose the vaccine that you get. You will get the vaccine that is available at that time.
  • Your vaccine appointment will take about 45 minutes total. Be ready to stay on site for 15 minutes after your shot. This is so the vaccination team can monitor you. This monitoring time is recommended by the FDA and CDC. If you have a history of immediate or severe allergic reaction or allergies that require you to carry an EpiPen, you will be asked to stay on site for 30 minutes after your shot.
  • You will get a wallet-sized vaccine reminder card to help you keep track of your COVID-19 shots. The card will include the date, time and administrator of your shot. If you receive a two-dose vaccine, it will also include the date and time of your second shot. Please keep this card in a safe place and bring it with you when you get your second shot, if you receive a two-dose vaccine. The CDC recommends that you make a backup copy by taking a photo of your vaccine card.

After You Get Your Shot

Even people who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in healthcare settings, on public transportation and where local mask mandates are still in place.

Vaccine Side Effects vs. COVID-19 Symptoms

You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. Some vaccine side effects, like headache and feeling tired, may be similar to COVID-19 symptoms. These side effects should go away 24-48 hours after you get your shot.

Possible Side Effects

Possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are:

  • Pain, swelling or redness at the shot site (most common)
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or not feeling well
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever

If you have side effects, like muscle pain or fever, you can use anti-inflammatory medicines (like ibuprofen or naproxen) or acetaminophen. Please talk to your doctor first.

Rare Side Effects

There have been rare side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccines. The chances of these side effects occurring are low. The CDC continues to recommend vaccination for individuals 12 and older, given the high risk of more severe complications from COVID-19 illness.

Please see the Food and Drug Administration EUA Fact Sheets for each vaccine for more information about rare side effects.

Allergic Reactions

There is a very small chance you may have an immediate or severe allergic reaction. Everyone will be observed for 15 minutes after getting the vaccine. If you have a history of an immediate or severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis from any cause, or a history of an immediate allergic reaction to an injectable medication or vaccine), you will be observed for 30 minutes.

Signs of a severe allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, swelling of your face and throat, a fast heartbeat, a bad rash all over your body and/or dizziness and weakness. If you have any of these symptoms while you are still at the hospital or vaccination site, please alert a nurse or a member of the vaccination team as soon as possible.

Please call your doctor if you have any side effects after you leave the hospital or vaccination site. If you do not have a doctor, please call the UMMS Nurse Call Line (1-888-713-0711). The UMMS Nurse Call Line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Adverse Events

Adverse events are unusual or unexpected effects that happen after you get the vaccine. They do not include the common side effects listed above.

Please call your doctor for medical care for adverse events that happen after you leave the hospital or vaccination site. Go to the closest Emergency Department or urgent care location if you do not have a doctor, or if you need immediate care.

After your first shot, if you are told you are allergic to the vaccine or if you are hospitalized due to an adverse event, you must talk to your doctor. For two-dose vaccines, you will need permission from your doctor to get your second shot. We will NOT give you your second shot if you do not get approval from your doctor. The vaccination team will not be able to give this approval. Your doctor may also recommend you get the J&J vaccine instead. If that is the case, you must wait at least 28 days after your first shot to receive a different vaccine. Per the CDC, it is recommended that you speak with an allergist if you are allergic to any one of the COVID-19 vaccines or its components, and are considering getting a different COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have any adverse events after your shot, you can also report them to the FDA/CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). You can do this online at vaers.hhs.gov or by calling the toll-free number (1-800-822-7967).

The CDC also has an optional text-message-based tool called v-safe. You can report any side effects to v-safe. You can also get automated, personalized health check-ins after your first COVID-19 shot and reminders about the second shot. For more information, visit, cdc.gov/vsafe.