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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Section 1

This page provides answers to some of the most common questions as UCI Health works around the clock to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations.

1/19/21 - Campus Vaccine UpdateOur UCI Health team delivered vaccines on campus for the first time this weekend to those eligible under Orange County’s distribution plan. The weekend’s events were extremely successful, and we thank everyone involved for their efforts. Demand for the vaccine far exceeds supply, with doses distributed in accordance with state and county guidelines. Read the update sent on Jan. 19, 2021.

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

County Distribution Plan COVID19.CA.GOV Info CDPH Vaccine Guidelines CDC Vaccine Info

Section 2

Vaccine Distribution - Employees

Employee eligibility will be based on two things:

  1. Federalstate and county guidelines
  2. Vaccine availability

The County recently expanded Phase 1A of its vaccination plan to all tiers, extending eligibility to additional categories of critical workers and those 65 years of age and older.

Invitations to schedule vaccinations will be sent to employees’ UCI email addresses from the UCI Health system when the employee is eligible for vaccination.  

An employee is currently defined as: faculty, other academic appointee, faculty emeriti, and career, contract, temporary, and part-time staff.

Retired staff who are not currently active on UCI payroll are not eligible and should follow county guidelines for obtaining their vaccinations.

If you believe you are eligible based on the current tier and you did not receive an email invitation, please contact: eec@uci.edu

Vaccination Eligibility

UCI is adhering the County's distribution plan, which can be viewed here.

The following employee groups are currently eligible to receive the vaccine. Additional employee groups will be added as they become eligible.

Active DateEligible Groups
Beginning 12/16/20 Frontline Healthcare Workers
Beginning 1/18/21 UCI Employees 65 years and older
Critical workers

Where to Get Your Vaccination

Vaccinations for UCI campus employees are currently 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. Other locations are being considered.

Scheduling Your Vaccinations

First Vaccination

You will receive an email invitation you to schedule your first vaccination. The header and subject line of the email will look something like this (so please watch for this type of message and do not delete it as spam/junk):

Sample vaccine invitation email

To schedule your first COVID-19 vaccination appointment, follow the instructions in the email invitation.

If you have trouble scheduling through the online portal, please contact covid19vaccine@hs.uci.edu

*Please do not use this contact information if you have not received an email invitation. Doing so may cause delays for employees who are currently eligible for the vaccination.

Second Vaccination

All current COVID-19 vaccination brands require two doses to achieve maximum protection (94% efficacy for Pfzifer and 95% for Moderna).

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.

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
    • Granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on 12/11/2020
    • Large-scale trial (44,000 participants) showed 95% efficacy
    • Two-dose vaccine, requires ultra-cold storage (–70 Celsius)
    • First shipments to hospitals that can handle ultra-cold storage
    • 50 million doses to the world by end of 2020 (6.5 million to U.S.)
    • 1.3 billion doses to the world in 2021
  • 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)
    • First shipments to hospitals and pharmacies serving long-term care facilities
    • 20 million doses to the world by end of 2020
    • 500 million to 1 billion doses to the world in 2021

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 with COVID-19, vaccination also will prevent the many long lasting effects reported by COVID-19 patients, including fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, chest pain, difficulty thinking and concentrating (“brain fog”), depression, muscle pain, headache and intermittent fever.

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.

UCI is currently vaccinating:

  • Critical healthcare workers (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes)
  • Residents of long-term care facilities 
  • UCI Employees aged 65 and over
  • Housing and dining employees

It is expected that COVID-19 vaccines will be widely available for public consumption by mid-April, 2021.

In addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, several other vaccines are in current trials to be completed in early 2021. Furthermore, vaccine trials in children under age 12 have also begun.

Can I get COVID from the vaccine?

These vaccines do not contain any part of the coronavirus, so you cannot become infected with COVID-19 from the vaccination.

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

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 likely will cause you to test positive for antibody tests (also called serology) since the vaccine helps build antibodies to COVID-19.

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

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

  • Trial enrollment — If you increase the number of staff that 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. In addition, the molecular-based mRNA vaccines can be manufactured faster because they do not require growing the virus in eggs to produce virus proteins for the vaccine.

How effective will the vaccine be?

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have both been tested in large vaccine trials involving more than 70,000 people. Participants were randomized in two study arms, one to receive the vaccine, the other a placebo injection. They were allowed to live their lives and mix with their communities as they normally would. Since the trial is randomized, such large study groups help ensure that the type of human interactions in one study arm are similar in the other.

The trials reported a remarkable 94% to 95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19. An efficacy of 95% means that the vaccine group had only 5% of the cases seen in the non-vaccine group. For example, if the placebo group had 100 cases of COVID-19, the vaccine group would have only five. The vaccine not only prevented COVID-19 cases overall, it also prevented severe cases of the disease.

While the vaccine trial data have not been published yet, they have been submitted in full to the FDA and shared with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which voted to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines to healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.

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

No. The protection provided by the vaccine starts seven (7) days after the second Pfizer dose and 14 days occurs after the second Moderna. Until then, you should assume you have no proven benefit from the vaccine.

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.

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 the 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?

The Pfizer and Moderna trials were not designed to assess the effectiveness of a single shot. For example, everyone in the Pfizer vaccine group received two shots, 21 days apart. Even though overall data suggest that benefits may start after the first dose, we don’t know enough to make any conclusions.

The scientific evidence so far shows that two doses are needed to achieve 94% to 95% protection. This is why you should not start the vaccine series unless you intend to complete it.

I already had, and recovered from, COVID-19. Do I still need to get vaccinated?

Yes. People who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine. Immunity to COVID-19 after infection is highly variable. The vaccine ensures you receive the same protection found in the trials.

Vaccines should not be given to anyone who is actively infected. After full recovery, you can and should receive the vaccine.

What side effects do the vaccines have?

Thus far, trials indicate 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.

This does not mean you are infected or contagious. Instead, these symptoms are a signal that your body is successfully generating an immune response to provide you protection from the virus.

Both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines commonly cause mild-to-moderate non-infectious flu-like symptoms. Data are being reviewed by the FDA and more details will become available. Here's what we know so far about side effects:

  • Pfizer mRNA vaccine
    • Any symptoms: 59% after first dose, 70% after second dose
    • Mild to moderate symptom type: fatigue 63%, headache 55%, muscle aches 38%, chills 32%, joint pain 24%, fever 14%
    • Few grade 3 (severe) side effects: fatigue 4%, headache 2%
  • Moderna mRNA vaccine
    • Limited data currently known. More data released when EUA status granted.
    • Grade 3 (severe) side effects: fatigue 10%, muscle aches 9%, joint pain 5%, headache 5%

Schedule your vaccinations when you do not have anything important planned for the next day or two, including work. 

For more information, visit the CDC's "What to Expect after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine" page.

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

Having a significant allergy to a food or medications does put you at higher risk for having an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. The risk of an allergic reaction exists for those who have a known allergy to the vaccine (from prior doses) or a known allergy to 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 known allergies to eggs.

The CDC recommends that people who have experienced severe allergic episodes consult their doctor before being vaccinated. In general, people who carry epinephrine (Epipen) should continue to do so, including at the time of vaccination. It is also a good idea to ensure you are not alone for the first several hours after receiving the vaccine.

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.

UCI is currently vaccinating:

  • Critical healthcare workers (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes)
  • Residents of long-term care facilities 
  • UCI Employees aged 65 and over
  • Housing and dining employees

It is expected that COVID-19 vaccines will be widely available for public consumption by mid-April, 2021.

In addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, several other vaccines are in current trials to be completed in early 2021. Furthermore, vaccine trials in children under age 12 have also begun.

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.

I am a contractor who provides services to UCI. Will I be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from UCI?

No. Only UCI employees are eligible to receive the vaccination through the UCI employee vaccination program at this time. Please consult your county’s vaccination guidelines to determine how you can receive the vaccination.