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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Section 1

Everyone 16 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.

UCI Health's COVID-19 Info UCI Health's FAQs UCI Health's FAQs in Spanish COVID-19 Vaccine Policy

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

National Vaccine Finder

Section 2

While COVID-19 vaccines are not required at UCI at this time, we strongly encourage those who are eligible to get one.

Here are a few key things you should know:
  • All vaccines currently available to the public (Pfizer, Moderna) are safe and effective, and there is no cost to the individual for either of them.
  • Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. The Pfizer vaccine requires the second shot 21 days after the first one, while Moderna requires 28 days in between the first and second shots. Individuals who register for the two-dose vaccination must commit to keeping their second appointment, and must receive the second dose from the same provider as the first dose.
  • Pfizer is currently the only vaccine that is approved for individuals ages 16 years and over; Moderna is approved for those 18 years and older.
  • Individuals who have already had COVID-19 are encouraged to get the vaccination.

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.

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.


For students enrolled in UC SHIP, a referral is required from the Student Health Center’s Insurance Services Department if you receive your vaccination at a clinic or physician’s office. A referral is not required if you receive your vaccination at a pharmacy. To request a referral, please email shc-insurance@uci.edu or call 949.824.2388.

Your vaccination provider may bill UC SHIP for a vaccine administration fee. You should inquire when you arrive for your appointment. If the provider does bill for administering the vaccine, the claim will be denied without a referral unless the provider is a pharmacy. If you do not obtain a referral in advance, please contact SHC’s Insurance Services department after you receive your vaccine(s) to request a retroactive referral. A retroactive referral will not be provided until you upload your vaccination records to the UCI Student Health Center portal.

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

For Employees

UCI held our final employee vaccination event for first doses on Friday, April 9, 2021.

Employees who received first doses at UCI will be given second doses at UCI. Please watch for an email notifying you when it is time to schedule your appointment for your second dose.

If you did not receive a first dose at UCI, and you are interested in being vaccinated, we encourage you to get vaccinated through any available channel – UCI Health community vaccination clinic, a local pharmacy, other mass vaccination site, etc. Please see the section below entitled ‘Where to Get Your Vaccination’ for helpful links.

Scheduling Your Vaccinations

The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose three weeks after the first dose. The Moderna vaccine requires a second dose four weeks after the first dose.

You will be notified by email five days in advance of your anticipated second dose date so that you may schedule your second appointment. You may not schedule your second appointment before you receive the second email invitation.

Location Information

Second dose vaccinations for UCI campus employees (by invitation only) are being administered at the Bren Events Center. Location may change so please refer to your appointment confirmation.

For individuals being vaccinated at the Bren Events Center, free parking is available at the Mesa Parking Structure.

UCI Health employees, including frontline healthcare workers, are being vaccinated at the UCI medical center in Orange.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What COVID-19 vaccines are now available?

Several companies are developing vaccines that work against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Two have been tested in large-scale clinical trials and have or are likely to be authorized for use in 2020 by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). 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)
    • 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)

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?

In addition to preventing infection and death by reducing your chances of getting sick, the COVID-19 vaccines also will prevent many long-lasting effects reported by COVID-19 patients. 

These include fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, muscle and joint pain, chest pain, difficulty thinking and concentrating (“brain fog”), depression, headache, and fever that comes and goes. Some people also reported heart, lung, kidney, skin, teeth and nervous system problems.

When can I get vaccinated?

UCI will follow county guidelines to determine eligibility. The county's phased approach to vaccine distribution can be viewed here.

Can the COVID-19 vaccines give me COVID?

None of the currently developed COVID-19 vaccines have the live SARS-CoV-2 virus. These vaccines cannot give you or anyone else COVID-19, nor do they make you contagious.

Will I test positive for COVID-19 after being vaccinated?

No. The vaccine will not cause you to test positive on viral tests for COVID-19, such as PCR tests or antigen tests. However, the vaccine will cause you to test positive for certain antibody tests (also called serology) that look for antibodies against the spike protein since the vaccine helps build these antibodies to COVID-19.

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

No steps were skipped. All COVID-19 vaccines being submitted for approval must meet high U.S. safety standards. All vaccines to be distributed in the U.S. were helped by funds from the government (e.g., Operation Warp Speed), large companies or both. These funds helped speed three processes:

  • Trial enrollment — If you increase the number of staff members who are recruiting patients, you can enroll a lot of people into a clinical trial in a shorter time period. The funds helped the trials quickly enroll tens of thousands of participants.
  • Manufacturing — Funds help increase the number of available manufacturing plants, warehouses and employees. The molecular-based mRNA vaccines also can be manufactured faster because they do not require growing the virus to produce virus proteins.
  • Distribution — Funding enables the vaccines to be shipped rapidly around the nation and the world on a regular basis.

How well does the vaccine work? Should I get Pfizer or Moderna?

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have both been tested in large vaccine trials involving tens of thousands of participants. Participants were randomized to receive the vaccine or a placebo injection. Then, they were allowed to live their lives and mix with their communities as they normally would. Since the trial is randomized, large numbers should ensure that the type of human interactions in one group are similar in the other. The trials reported a remarkable 94-95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 cases. 95% efficacy means that the vaccine group had only 5% of the cases seen in the placebo (non-vaccine) group. For example, if the placebo (non-vaccine) group had 100 cases of COVID-19, the vaccine group would only have 5. Importantly, the vaccine not only prevented COVID cases overall, but it prevented severe COVID-19 disease.

Protection was measured after the second dose for both vaccines. Pfizer studied the amount of protection 7 days after the second dose, and Moderna studied the amount of protection 14 days after the second dose.

  • Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial (~44,000 participants)
    • 95% efficacy (protection)
    • All COVID-19 cases: 162 in placebo group vs. 8 in vaccine group
    • Severe COVID-19 cases: 9 in placebo group vs. 1 in vaccine group
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial (~30,000 participants)
    • 94% efficacy (protection)
    • All COVID-19 cases: 185 in placebo group vs. 11 in vaccine group
    • Severe COVID-19 cases: 30 in placebo group vs. 0 in vaccine group

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

No. The 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. Until that time, you should assume you have no proven benefit from 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. This is a contagious disease and we are all in this together. In addition, there are still cases of COVID-19 in the community. With 95% protection, you can still get COVID, especially if there are lot of people around you who may have COVID. Experts believe that 70-85% of the population will need to be vaccinated before the pandemic will be over.

View Preventative Measures

How many doses do I need?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are a two-dose series. This means that you must receive both doses to achieve the 94% and 95% protection levels seen in the trials.

  • The Pfizer vaccine is two doses given 21 days apart.
  • The Moderna vaccine is two doses given 28 days apart.

What if I get the first dose then don’t want the second?

It is important to remember that the two large Pfizer and Moderna trials were not designed to assess the benefit from a single shot. For example, everyone in the Pfizer vaccine group received two shots, 21 days apart. Thus, for each vaccine participant, there were only 21 days between doses that provided any information about the effect of the first dose alone. 21 days is barely enough time for that dose to have its full immune effect. Thus, even though the overall data suggest that benefit may have started to be seen after the first dose, there is insufficient data in that time to make any conclusions. In addition, it is not known whether any benefit after the first dose will last without the second dose to lock in protection.

All that can be known from the scientific evidence is that two doses are needed to see the 94-95% protection. This is the reason why you should not start the vaccine series unless you intend to complete it. It is also important to anticipate that the COVID-19 vaccine often causes a mild flu-like illness after each dose. These symptoms do not mean that you have an infection or are sick with COVID-19. Instead, these vaccine-related symptoms are a sign that your body is working hard to build an immune response to protect you from future infection. Thus, developing these symptoms after the first dose does not mean you shouldn’t receive the second dose. You should expect similar symptoms after each dose. 

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.

If I already had COVID-19, do I need the vaccine?

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 only lasts 3 months after infection. Getting the vaccine will ensure you are protected with the 95% protection found in the trials. You should not receive the vaccine while you are actively infected, but after you return to normal activities, you can and should receive the vaccine when you are eligible. This can be as early as 10 days after your COVID-19 symptoms began. If you are eligible and there is a vaccine shortage, 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 after both doses are received, which takes several weeks.

Since the vaccine does not work immediately, some people will become infected with COVID-19 between the first and second doses of the vaccine, or even shortly after receiving the second dose. If this happens, there is no reason to worry that the first dose of 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, 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 the 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 mRNA 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. Both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines commonly cause mild-to-moderate non-infectious “flu-like” symptoms.
  • 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%

If I have allergies to food or medication, should I worry about having an allergic reaction to the vaccine?

Allergies are generally linked to specific items. Having a significant allergy to a food or different medication does not necessarily mean that you are at higher risk for an allergic reaction to the COVID vaccine. The only definite reason to not give the COVID-19 vaccine to someone is if that person has a known allergy to the COVID vaccine (from prior doses) or an ingredient in the vaccine. For example, mRNA vaccines are not made in chicken eggs and there should not be any additional risk for people with allergies to eggs. For individuals who have a lot of serious allergies, please consult with your doctor. If you have been told to carry epinephrine (Epipen) for any reason, we recommend that you continue to do so, including when you receive the vaccination. All vaccination distribution centers are required to have emergency allergy medications on site, and the CDC is recommending that everyone who receives the vaccine be observed for 15 minutes, or 30 minutes if you have any history of anaphylaxis for any reason. If you are unable to wait that duration of time, we recommend that you remain around other people for the 15 minutes immediately after receiving the vaccine, or are on the phone with someone who is aware that you have just been vaccinated and knows your location. 

Frequently Asked Questions - Employees

How will UCI determine who to prioritize during vaccine distribution?

UCI will follow county guidelines to determine eligibility. The county's phased approach to vaccine distribution can be viewed here.

How will an employee know when they are eligible to receive the vaccine?

Eligible employees will receive an email invitation directly from UCI Health inviting them to schedule their first vaccination. This is the only way to schedule a vaccination through UCI.

The header and subject line of the email will look something like this please check for this type of message and do not delete it as spam/junk):

Sample vaccine invitation email

Will UCI make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?

No. The vaccination will be optional. However, employees electing not to receive the vaccine will be required to sign a waiver and will be required to mask at all times while on UC and UCI controlled property.

Can I get the vaccination elsewhere?

Yes. It is important to emphasize that demand for the vaccine far exceeds supply. Other counties and cities may have different vaccination schedules, so you may be able to receive the vaccine near your home sooner. Please don’t wait if you qualify elsewhere – we encourage eligible individuals to utilize any available channel to secure a vaccination as soon as possible.

For a list of other vaccine distribution channels including community sites, medical providers and pharmacies, visit OC Health Care Agency website.