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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Section 1

Everyone 12 years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Vaccination is one of the most important tools to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The State will equitably distribute a safe and effective vaccine to everyone in California who wants it. This page provides answers to some of the most common questions about COVID-19 vaccinations.

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Moderna Fact Sheet: What to Expect Pfizer Fact Sheet: What to Expect Johnson & Johnson Fact Sheet: What to Expect

National Vaccine Finder

Section 2

The University of California announced a proposed policy for review that would require all UC faculty, staff, academic appointees and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to limited medical and religious exemptions. The requirement would go into effect by the beginning of the fall term, provided at least one of the vaccines has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is readily available. The details of this proposed policy can be found in the UC Office of the President’s announcement.

Under the policy, vaccinations must be completed two weeks before faculty, staff, students and others expect to be on campus or at a location for the fall term.

UC COVID-19 Vaccine Policy Employee FAQs Student FAQs

How to Get Vaccinated


To find vaccination clinics in California, register at the state’s MyTurn web page to record your eligibility and be notified when appointments are available near you. The UCI Bren Events Center is one of the locations available through MyTurn depending on vaccine availability.

Orange County

Orange County Health Care Agency has compiled this list of vaccine distribution sites

Other vaccine distribution channels in: 

Appointments are added to the distribution sites listed above on a regular basis as vaccine doses are received. Vaccine delivery varies from week to week, so check often for newly added appointments. 

Other States

For those who do not reside in California, VaccineFinder helps you find clinics, pharmacies, and other locations that offer COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

Scheduling Assistance

UCI’s Contact Tracing & Vaccine Navigation Services is available to help individuals find vaccine appointments and can be reached at 949-824-2300. They are also able to assist students with uploading your vaccine records to the Student Health Portal, as well as accessing their vaccine records in California.

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For Students

Vaccination Record

If you have already received your COVID-19 vaccine, you can upload your Vaccination Record Card by visiting the UCI Student Health Center portal. While vaccines are not mandatory at this time, the campus anticipates that our ability to open the campus for Fall 2021 will be contingent on the number of vaccinated students.

Transportation Assistance

The FRESH Basic Needs Hub is providing transportation support for students who face financial barriers accessing a vaccine site.


The vaccine is free. No fees required for those covered by UCSHIP 

Several students covered by UCSHIP have inquired about potential fees related to the COVID vaccine. It’s important to emphasize that the vaccine is free — UCSHIP-covered patients should not be charged any fees, copays or out-of-pocket expenses. Organizations administering the vaccine, such as UCI Health, may bill insurance companies for administrative costs.  For this reason, UCSHIP requests that students receive a referral before or after the vaccination by contacting shc-insurance@uci.edu or call 949-824-2388.

At this time, COVID-19 vaccines are not available at the Student Health Center (SHC).

FAQs - Students

Will UCI make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?

The University of California announced a proposed policy for review that would require all UC faculty, staff, academic appointees and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to limited medical and religious exemptions. The requirement would go into effect by the beginning of the fall term, provided at least one of the vaccines has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is readily available. The details of this proposed policy can be found in the UC Office of the President’s announcement.

UC COVID-19 Vaccine Policy Student FAQs

I’m fully vaccinated but I would still like to participate in the asymptomatic testing program. Can I still continue with the testing?

If you are fully vaccinated, it’s no longer necessary to continue with our asymptomatic testing program given the efficacy of the vaccine. However, you should continue to complete your Daily Symptom Check, and if you are experiencing any symptoms, we encourage you to contact the UCI Student Health Center or your primary care physician, so that they may further evaluate and order the appropriate testing as needed. And if you feel you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911.

What if I am a student under the age of 16, and I’m not eligible for a vaccine?

Students who are not of eligible age to receive a COVID-19 vaccine should submit a request for a medical exemption.

FAQs - International Students

Will the University accept internationally approved vaccines even if not authorized or approved in the United States?

Yes, if the vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a process for assessing and listing unlicensed vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics during a public health emergencies. Through that process, a number of vaccines not available in the United States have received Emergency Use Listing (EUL). A document summarizing the status of a wide range of international vaccines can be found online on the WHO’s website. If the mandate is adopted, the University will, consistent with CDC and CDPH guidance, accept proof of vaccination with any international vaccine that has been authorized for emergency use by WHO through the EUL process. People who have completed a COVID-19 vaccination series with one of these vaccines do not need additional doses with an FDA-licensed or -authorized COVID-19 vaccine, at least initially (but may be subject to subsequent booster requirements). No data are available on the safety or efficacy of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine currently authorized in the US after receipt of a nonFDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are partially vaccinated or vaccinated with a vaccine not licensed or authorized by FDA and not authorized by WHO will be required to receive an FDA-licensed or -authorized vaccine no less than 28 days after their last international vaccination. In the interim, they will be subject to special safety measures, like quarantine, frequent asymptomatic testing, and more extensive masking requirements.

Please remember to upload your vaccination record to the Student Health Patient Portal. Your vaccination record should be translated into English prior to uploading.

I was vaccinated in a country, where the government increased the time between first and second vaccines longer than US labeling. Do I have to be revaccinated?

No. If you have proof of completing a series of any FDA-licensed or FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine consistent with your country’s implementation, you will be considered to have complied with the vaccine mandate.

I do not have a social security number. Can I still schedule an appointment and receive the vaccine in the U.S.?

Yes. A social security number is not required in order to receive the vaccine. However, some providers may require that you enter a full nine-digit social security number or only the last four digits when completing your registration prior to scheduling the appointment.  If you are unable to complete registration and schedule an appointment, then please contact the vaccine provider directly for guidance and advise them that you do not have a social security number.

Can I get the vaccine at an airport?

Students are required to get a vaccine approved on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergency use list.

Several airports now offer COVID-19 vaccines, including:



For Employees

Vaccination Record

If you have received your COVID-19 vaccine, you can upload your Vaccination Record Card by visiting here: https://apps.health.uci.edu/CampusOccHealthAdministration

For assistance locating and/or scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations, please contact UCI’s Contact Tracing & Vaccination Navigation Services team at contacttracing@uci.edu or 949-824-2300.

FAQs - Employees

Will UCI make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?

The University of California announced a proposed policy for review that would require all UC faculty, staff, academic appointees and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to limited medical and religious exemptions. The requirement would go into effect by the beginning of the fall term, provided at least one of the vaccines has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is readily available. The details of this proposed policy can be found in the UC Office of the President’s announcement.

UC COVID-19 Vaccine Policy Employee FAQs

Can I get the vaccination elsewhere?

Yes. We encourage eligible individuals to utilize any available channel to secure a vaccination as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For a comprehensive and most up to date list of UCI Health's COVID Vaccine FAQs, click here.

What COVID-19 vaccines are now available?

Vaccines can only be licensed in the U.S. if they have strong data from clinical trials. There are several COVID-19 vaccines that have data from well-designed large clinical trials. The below table (updated as of mid-May 2021) lists COVID-19 vaccines that are already authorized in the U.S. (top 3 rows in green) or are likely to seek U.S. authorization in the near future. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both mRNA vaccines and both have shown an incredibly high level of protection (~95% protection) in large clinical trials. These vaccines have been given to over 100 million people in the U.S. It is unlikely that any of the other vaccines will be proven to be better at protecting against COVID-19 than these mRNA vaccines. Notably, the J&J (Janssen) vaccine has the benefit of being a single dose while giving 66% protection. All other vaccines listed in the table require two doses for full effect.

They include:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine
    • Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status granted 12/11/2020
    • Large-scale trial (44,000 participants) showed 95% efficacy
    • Two-dose vaccine, requires ultra-cold storage (–70 Celsius)
    • Age indication: 16 years and older
  • Moderna mRNA vaccine
    • Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status granted 12/18/2020
    • Large-scale trial (30,000 participants) showed 94% efficacy
    • Two-dose vaccine, requires standard cold storage (–20 Celsius)
    • Age indication: 18 years and older
  • Johnson & Johnson
    • Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status granted 2/27/2021
    • Large-scale trial (39,000 participants) showed 66% efficacy
    • Single dose vaccine
    • Age indication: 18 years and older

For the latest information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination page.

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

We all want this pandemic to end. By mid-May 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic reached 165 million cases and 3.4 million deaths worldwide. These striking numbers are underestimated since only people who have been tested are counted. In the United States, 33 million cases of COVID-19 have occurred and nearly 600,000 people have died from COVID-19. In the winter crisis, 3,300 lives were lost every day in the U.S. due to COVID-19. Widespread use of safe and effective vaccines can end the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts believe that 70-85% of people need to be vaccinated before the pandemic will end.

The fact that we have safe and highly protective vaccines should lead us all to want to be vaccinated. By preventing infection, COVID-19 vaccines prevent not only death, but also the problems that occur after infection. COVID-19 infection has been reported to cause long lasting problems related to fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, chest pain, difficulty thinking and concentrating (“brain fog”), depression, muscle pain, headache, and intermittent fever. In addition, some people have reported problems with their heart, lung, kidney, skin, teeth, and nervous system after COVID infection. These complications of infection can be prevented by receiving the vaccine. 

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine now or wait?

With 165 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and 33 million cases in the U.S., we should not wait to receive the vaccine. By mid-May, over 120 million people in the U.S. have received a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, and 10 million have received the J&J (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine. With safe and highly protective vaccines, there is no reason why another person (including ourselves, our family, or our friends) needs to die from COVID-19. We should be urgently vaccinating. Being vaccinated enables us to protect our workplace and our close circle of friends and family. The sooner we can reach 70-85% vaccinated, the sooner the pandemic can come to an end.

What is an mRNA vaccine and what is an adenovirus vector vaccine?

mRNA Vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. are both mRNA vaccines. mRNA stands for “messenger ribonucleic acid,” and it is an instruction set to make proteins. Every cell in our bodies has mRNA in it because we need proteins to survive. The mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines provide instructions for your body to make a specific protein (Spike protein) on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When your body makes this viral protein, it is recognized as not human, and your body develops antibodies to it. These antibodies protect you if you later encounter the virus. Some vaccines inject the protein itself, but mRNA vaccines inject the instructions needed for your body to make the protein. 

After making the protein, your body will destroy the mRNA. The mRNA does not stay in your body. It is temporary and does not mix into your genetic code. The COVID-19 vaccines are not the first mRNA vaccines to be created. mRNA vaccines have been made for flu, rabies, CMV (cytomegalovirus), and Zika viruses.

Adenovirus Vector Vaccines (J&J (Janssen), AstraZeneca) 

Adenovirus vector vaccines have the same goal as the mRNA vaccines which is to have your body make a specific protein (Spike protein) on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. To do this, it uses a harmless adenovirus, a virus that is not related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The adenovirus that is used in the vaccine cannot cause any disease. It just provides a way for the instruction set to make Spike protein to be provided to your body. When your body makes this viral protein, it is recognized as not human, and your body develops antibodies to it.

Should I worry that the vaccine was made so quickly? Were steps skipped?

No steps were skipped. All of the COVID-19 vaccines that are being distributed in the U.S. were either helped by government funds (e.g., Operation Warp Speed) or were funded by large companies, or both. These funds enabled four things to speed up:

  • Development: Current vaccines benefitted from advances in science that allowed rapid development. For example, mRNA vaccines use a technology that creates the instruction set to build proteins. It also benefits from technology that keeps the instruction set stable, including cooling it.
  • Trial enrollment: If you can increase the number of staff that are recruiting patients, you can enroll a lot of people into a trial in a shorter time period. For example, you can have one person recruit 1,000 people into a trial, or you can have 1,000 recruiters each enroll one person into a trial. The more staff recruiters you have, the faster your enrollment. The funds helped the trials quickly enroll tens of thousands of participants.
  • Manufacturing: Funds help increase the number of manufacturing plants, warehouses, and employees. In addition, these vaccines can be made quickly because they don’t involve a step such as growing the virus to ultimately produce virus proteins. For example, some flu vaccines require a step where the vaccine protein is made from live virus in chicken eggs. These vaccines do not involve any live virus step. They are molecular based and can be rapidly manufactured.
  • Distribution: Funds enable produced vaccines to be shipped rapidly around the U.S. and around the world on a regular basis.

Can the COVID-19 vaccines give me COVID?

None of the currently developed COVID-19 vaccines involve live SARS-CoV-2 virus. None of the vaccines can give you or anyone else COVID-19. The vaccine does not make you contagious.

Am I protected as soon as I receive the vaccine? Can I stop wearing a mask?

No. For mRNA vaccines, protection was measured starting 7 days after the second dose for the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine and 14 days after the second dose for the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine. For the J&J vaccine, protection is active after two weeks. Until that time, you should assume you are not yet protected by the vaccine. In addition, even after you are vaccinated, all policies, protocols, and public health orders related to COVID-19 will remain in place until you are notified otherwise.

As cases in the U.S. have sharply declined in response to the change in season and rising vaccinations, the CDC has provided general guidance for when it is safe to not wear a mask.

It is safe to not wear a mask if no one has symptoms of COVID and:

  • When you and your immediate household are alone, both indoors and outdoors
  • When vaccinated people from one household are with unvaccinated people from one other household, but all unvaccinated persons are low risk for serious COVID-19 disease.
  • When you are in a room where everyone is fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks past their last required dose)
  • When you are outdoors and at a safe distance from other people (unless you are at an event that requires masking)
  • When you are eating at a restaurant and are at least 6 feet from other people who may not be vaccinated. In these moments, you should remove your mask only to eat and replace it as soon as you are done eating and drinking.

This is a contagious disease and we are all in this together. Guidance may change depending on the season and the number of people in your community who have COVID-19 since vaccine protection is not 100%. For example, SARS-CoV-2 is a winter virus and if we do not meet herd immunity levels of vaccination by winter, we may see cases begin to rise and outbreaks occur especially in areas where vaccination rates are less than 70%. Experts believe that 70-85% of the population will need to be vaccinated before the pandemic will be over.

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How long will the vaccine protect me?

Participants in the COVID-19 vaccine trials will be followed for up to two years, including having blood drawn periodically to determine if protective levels of antibody are still present. Thus, more will be known as time goes by. Since immunity to other coronaviruses is known to last one to three years, it is widely anticipated that the COVID-19 vaccine will be an annual vaccine, possibly every other year at best. An annual vaccine may also help address variants, since the vaccines can be modified each year, similar to what is currently done for the flu vaccine. Although the mRNA vaccines are a two-dose series, it is likely that an annual vaccine or booster would be a single dose.

What if I get COVID-19 after receiving my first dose? Is that dangerous?

As millions are vaccinated across the United States, some persons happen to become sick with COVID-19 before their vaccination sequence is complete. Remember, you do not reach the protection seen in the clinical trials until 14 days after your last dose of COVID vaccine (two doses for Pfizer and Moderna, and one dose for J&J). Some people have been exposed to persons who have COVID-19 before or shortly after receiving the vaccine. If you become infected and have been vaccinated at the same time, your body will work to both fight the infection and respond to the vaccine by making more antibodies. You will likely experience the symptoms related to both, but the vaccine will still be working to help you make the right antibodies to prevent future infection.

For two-dose vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), if your infection is close to your second dose, you will need to delay your dose if your symptoms started within 10 days of your appointment or if you have a fever within 24 hours of your appointment. After you are no longer infectious, you are able to receive your second dose. Some have suggested that a second dose may not be necessary in those who have been infected. However, it has not been proven that infection plus a single dose is equivalent to two doses of an effective vaccine in the long run. While it may be true for some select individuals, it is unlikely to be true for most or all individuals. Because it is not possible to know, the recommendation is that people who have had COVID-19 should still receive a full course (either one dose of J&J, or two doses of Pfizer or Moderna). Two things are well understood at this time. First, that infection does not provide trustworthy immunity beyond 3 months. Second, the mRNA vaccines require two doses to achieve the 95% protection seen in two large trials.

What if I missed my second dose?

Ideally, you should try to be on time with your second dose because the data on vaccine benefit from the clinical trials were based upon a fixed number of weeks between doses (3 weeks between Pfizer doses; 4 weeks between Moderna doses). However, in real life, there may be reasons that prevent you from getting your second dose on time. All recommended vaccines have a window of 4-6 weeks that a dose can be given late without being considered delayed. Even beyond that time, you should still receive the second dose.

I already had COVID-19. Am I supposed to get the vaccine? If so, when?

Yes. Anyone who has had COVID-19 should still receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, having been infected with COVID-19 does not guarantee strong immunity to the virus. Usually protection is only reliable for 3 months after infection. Getting the vaccine will ensure you receive the protection found in the trials. You should not receive the vaccine while you are actively infectious, but after you return to normal activities, you can and should receive the vaccine. This can be as early as 10 days after your COVID-19 symptoms began. If you are eligible but your recovery is slow, you can wait up to 90 days after infection to receive your vaccine. During that period, you should still be protected from repeat COVID-19 infection. However, remember that full protection from vaccination only occurs 2 weeks after all doses are received, which can take over a month for the two-dose vaccines.

Since the vaccines do not work immediately, some people will become infected with COVID-19 shortly after being vaccinated, including between the first and second doses of a two-dose vaccine, or even shortly after receiving the second dose. If this happens, there is no reason to worry that the vaccine won’t work. In fact, it is likely that the combination of the vaccine and the infection will cause a strong immune response. However, for two-dose vaccines, it is still important to receive the second dose to ensure that immunity is locked in and the full 95% protection is achieved. The second dose can be received on time if you are no longer infectious, have not had a fever for at least 24 hours, and feel up to receiving the vaccine. If not, you should delay the second dose until those criteria are met. Even with a few weeks’ delay, you should still expect to receive full benefit from the two doses.

Some people who have COVID-19 have received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent sera to help prevent severe disease. If so, you should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine for 90 days from the time you received the antibody therapy since those antibodies can bind the spike protein produced by the vaccine and prevent your body from making its own protective antibody.

What side effects do the vaccines have? Do I have to do any planning?

So far, clinical trials have shown that COVID-19 vaccines are highly protective and generate a strong immune response. Sometimes when vaccines produce an immune response, there may be side effects that feel like the flu, but do not mean you are infected or contagious. Instead, these symptoms are simply a sign that your body is successfully generating an immune response to provide you protection.

  • Expect some symptoms after vaccination. All COVID-19 vaccines commonly cause mild-to-moderate non-infectious “flu-like” symptoms. This occurs commonly for one day, sometimes for two days, and less commonly for 3 or more days.
  • Pick a good time
    • Get your vaccine when you do not have anything important planned in the next day or two, including work shifts. This is more important after the second dose since symptoms are more common after the second dose.
    • If you can, have staff who have highly specialized skill sets separate their vaccines by at least 3 days in case one needs to miss work for vaccine-related side effects
  • Pfizer mRNA vaccine
    • Percent of people with any symptoms: 59% after 1st dose, 70% after 2nd dose
      Note: in placebo (no vaccine) group: 47% symptoms after 1st dose, 34% after 2nd 
    • Types of symptoms: fatigue 63%, headache 55%, muscle aches 38%, chills 32%, joint pain 24%, fever 14% 
    • Percent of people with severe side effects: fatigue 4%, headache 2%
  • Moderna mRNA vaccine
    • Percent of people with any symptoms: 55% after 1st dose, 79% after 2nd dose
      Note: in placebo (no vaccine) group: 42% symptoms after 1st dose, 37% after 2nd
    • Types of symptoms: fatigue 69%, headache 63%, muscle aches 60%, joint pain 45%, chills 43%
    • Percent of people with severe side effects:
      • First dose: fatigue 1%, muscle aches 1%, joint pain <1%, headache 2%, chills <1%, fever <1% 
      • Second dose: fatigue 11%, muscle aches 10%, joint pain 6%, headache 5%, chills 2%, fever 2% 
  • J&J (Janssen) vaccine (one dose vaccine)
    • Percent of people with any symptoms: 55%
      Note: in placebo (no vaccine) group: 35%
    • Types of symptoms: headache 39%, fatigue 38%, muscle aches 33%, nausea 14%, and fever 9%
    • Percent of people with severe side effects: fatigue 1%, muscle aches 1%