Updated January 22, 2021
We are excited about all of the great progress with COVID-19 vaccines, and look forward to having a COVID vaccine available for all of our patients as soon as possible.
On January 18, 2021, the LA County Board of Supervisors chair, Hilda L. Solis, signed an executive order directing the LA County Department of Public Health to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments available to residents 65 and older. We are pleased to report that we started inviting patients to schedule their vaccination appointment on Jan. 19, 2021.
Please note that this recent expansion of eligibility did not come with additional vaccine supply. While the vaccine supply remains limited, our initial invites will go to our patients who are the most vulnerable based on their medical conditions. As additional vaccine supply is made available, we will continue to send more invites until we have offered the COVID-19 vaccine to all patients who are 65 and older, and then move on to other groups.
As you wait to receive your vaccination invite, you can also check to see if you can schedule your vaccination appointment through LA County, Ventura County or Orange County, depending on where you live. We have the same vaccines as everyone else and encourage you to get your vaccination wherever you can get it the soonest.
See important vaccine FAQs below.
We are now inviting select patients to schedule their vaccination.
Invitations will be sent via email from sender "UCLA Health" (firstname.lastname@example.org), with the word "invitation" in the subject line. If you do not have an email on file or you have unsubscribed from email updates, your invitation letter will be sent by mail to your home address.
Once you receive an invitation, please follow these step-by-step instructions (in Spanish) to schedule in myUCLAhealth.
If you do not have a myUCLAhealth account, create one today.
Click here to check your communication preferences in myUCLAhealth. Confirm that you’ve authorized all email updates and scroll down to check and update your contact information.
Even after receiving the vaccine, your commitment to continuing to follow these recommended protocols will help keep you, your family and the entire Los Angeles community safe:
— Nurse Nicole Chang, one of the first UCLA Health employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine (Dec 16, 2020)
There are two COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA. The Pfizer vaccine is given in two shots, 21 days apart, and is authorized for use in people 16 years of age and older. The Moderna vaccine is given in two shots, 28 days apart, and is authorized for use in people 18 and older.
There are also several other vaccines in various stages of clinical development. For more about what you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines from our experts, visit the UCLA Health connect blog.
The Pfizer vaccine is given in two shots, three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine is given in two shots, four weeks apart. Both vaccines are given as an injection into the muscle. You must receive the same vaccine for both doses.
The Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing symptomatic illness for COVID-19 after both doses are received, according to FDA data.
SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccines increase the body’s immune response by making antibodies. These antibodies block the SARS-CoV-2 virus from injecting itself into human cells, thereby preventing it from reproducing and making you sick.
No. You cannot become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from the vaccine.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines include one little piece of what’s known as messenger RNA (mRNA). This mRNA contains genetic instructions, which tell your cells to produce a viral “spike” protein. Your immune system recognizes this as a “threat” and mounts a response, producing antibodies that protect you against future infection.
The little piece of RNA in the vaccine cannot replicate itself and it does not have any of the components needed to infect your body or spread the virus.
The ingredients for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are listed on the FDA website.
The ingredients include:
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use the same mRNA technology, but contain different ingredients to protect the mRNA, maintain the pH, and stabilize the solution. Neither vaccine uses the live virus that causes COVID-19, and neither contains eggs or preservatives.
As of January 2021, COVID-19 has killed more than 350,000 people in the United States. This is significantly more deaths than other viruses that we routinely vaccinate against, such as influenza, which according to the CDC typically causes 24,000 to 62,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.
In addition to the high death toll, COVID-19 can also cause other long-term complications. The COVID-19 vaccine will save lives and decrease the likelihood of long term COVID-related problems involving the brain, heart and lungs.
COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and death rates are disproportionately higher in lower-income communities and communities of color. Vaccines are needed to stop the virus and prevent COVID-19’s devastating health, social and financial effects on lower-income communities of color.
No. Just like getting the flu vaccine shot is not mandatory, getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory either. However, it will likely be highly encouraged as a way to protect yourself and those around you.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have undergone rigorous review, after which the FDA authorized them for emergency use.
We understand there may be skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine, especially among people of color, because of historical medical racism and experimentation in people of color. The COVID-19 clinical trials included people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. The vaccine was found to be effective and safe for all participants. Participants in the original clinical trials will continue to be followed for two years.
Experts believe getting the approved shots, along with wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distancing, and avoiding indoor crowds is the best way to protect yourself, your family, your friends and your community.
Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines work by helping your body produce antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that help fight infections from viruses, bacteria and other germs. Mild symptoms are common as when the body produces antibodies, and are not a sign of infection.
In ongoing clinical trials, the most common side effects included:
Side effects are generally mild and went away after a day or two. They are likely to be more pronounced after the second shot.
As with any vaccine, there is a low chance of allergic reaction. If you have a history of severe allergic reaction to other vaccines, please talk to your doctor about whether you should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you take aspirin, acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil) for a medical reason, you can continue to take it as directed. However, we suggest that you do not take any of these medicines before getting your vaccine shot because they could dull your body’s immune response.
If you have a fever or body aches after being vaccinated, you may take these medicines as needed.
It is better to get vaccinated. Getting the actual COVID-19 disease is much worse.
With the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, you get only one piece of the virus’s RNA, which is not able to replicate itself or spread. However, it does help you build up antibodies to keep the spike protein from infecting your cells.
When the virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, infects a cell, it injects all of its own genetic material into the cell to begin replicating itself. Contracting the virus naturally can cause both direct damage to cells and inflammation due to your immune system reacting, which can harm the entire body.
We don’t know. The Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials tested the vaccines ability to prevent symptomatic COVID-19 disease in vaccinated individuals. The trials did not test if vaccinated individuals could still become infected with COVID-19 or transmit the illness. But just because this wasn’t tested in the clinical trials doesn’t mean the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t preventing vaccinated individuals from catching and transmitting the disease. Based on experience with other vaccines and early data, it is likely that people who are vaccinated will at most have an asymptomatic illness, and will be less likely to pass the virus to others.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t reach its full effectiveness until about two weeks after the second shot. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after their vaccination and still get sick.
We do not know yet. Clinical studies have so far followed patients for only a few months after vaccination. Patients in the studies will eventually be followed for two years. After that, we should know more about how long immunity lasts.
For most people, the answer is yes. The vaccine is currently authorized for use in people 16 years of age and older. You should not get the vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine, or if you had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions, either in general or specific to your medical history.
You should not get the vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine, or if you had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.
You can find the ingredients for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and additional vaccine information on the FDA website.
You can also find the ingredients for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and additional vaccine information on the FDA website.
You should talk to your health care provider to decide if the vaccine is right for you if any of the following apply:
You must be 16 years of age and older to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and 18 years of age and older to receive the Moderna vaccine.
Yes. There is not currently enough information available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again, so you should still get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have already recovered. You cannot receive the vaccine if you have an active COVID-19 infection.
Yes, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. However, you should talk to your OB or primary doctor first to discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination. While there is no reason to worry that getting the COVID-19 vaccine will affect your pregnancy, there will likely be some warning about getting the vaccine while pregnant, to be extra careful, since pregnant women were not included in the clinical trials.
Please note that pregnant women are at increased risk for serious disease if they get COVID-19.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers additional guidance on this topic.
The COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to people who are lactating/breastfeeding. Although lactating individuals were not part of the vaccine clinical trials, based on experience with other vaccines, the benefits of vaccine outweigh any safety concerns. You do not have to delay or stop breastfeeding if you receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers additional guidance on this topic.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is currently authorized for people 16 and older and the Moderna vaccine is authorized for people 18 and older. Before a vaccine can be offered to children under 16, clinical trials must be run in different age groups to test its safety and effectiveness.
In December, Moderna announced they would run a clinical trial to test the COVID-19 vaccine in kids from 12 to 17 years old. This trial is expected to be run in early 2021 and to be completed by mid-summer. No clinical trials have been announced for kids under 12.
In most cases, yes. People with medical problems can and should receive the vaccine if they do not have a severe allergy to the ingredients in the vaccine. This includes people living with HIV, autoimmune disorders, such as Lupus, or any other medical problem that leads to a weakened immune system.
If you have questions, please talk to your doctor.
Yes. If you are a transplant recipient, you should get vaccinated. Discuss optimal timing to receive your vaccine with your transplant doctor. One of the easiest ways to connect with your doctor is through the myUCLAhealth patient portal. If you do not have an account, please create one today.
For additional guidance on this topic, please see information from The Transplantation Society and the American Society of Transplantation.
In general, the answer is yes. COVID-19 poses a much greater risk to your health than the risks posed by vaccination. There may be special circumstances in which individuals awaiting a transplant should not be vaccinated, such as if they had a very recent transplant or are receiving treatment for transplant organ rejection or allergic reactions. Please contact your transplant team before you receive any vaccination.
Reach out to your clinical trial study team coordinator with questions about your eligibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology, used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, is new, but not unknown. While this is the first time mRNA has been used in a licensed vaccine, the structure and technology have been studied for years. Advancements in biology and chemistry have improved mRNA vaccine safety and efficacy, and it is now thought to be less dangerous than other types of vaccines.
Given the importance of stopping the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine experts focused their time on developing a safe and effective vaccine. They used pre-existing vaccine models that have been studied for years.
Each vaccine was developed and tested following the same rules as other medications and vaccines that have been approved for use, such as antibiotics and the flu shot.
No. There is no way for the COVID-19 vaccine to alter your genetic material (DNA).
RNA is a short-lived, temporary messenger, and it only works in one direction. This means that the RNA does not interact with your DNA and never enters the part of the cell where your DNA is located.
The vaccine was created by expert scientists, not the government. Under “Operation Warp Speed,” the U.S. government provided additional money and support to assist in the production and distribution of the vaccine.
The vaccine does not contain a live or whole virus, microchip, or any other harmful items. Each vaccine was developed and tested following the same rules as other medications and vaccines that have been approved for use, such as antibiotics and the flu shot.
No. There’s absolutely no evidence that the vaccine interferes with fertility or pregnancy.
The vaccine includes only one protein of the virus, which causes your immune system to respond against it. This is something our bodies are used to — it happens every day.
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine will cause autoimmune problems. The immune response caused by the vaccine only targets the spike protein of the virus, not the other cells in your body.
No. UCLA Health is working with the CDC and California Department of Public Health to make sure that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be able to do so in an equitable and orderly way. However, additional vaccine educational outreach is being made to communities of color to help stop the high rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalizations, and death seen in Black, Latino, and Indigenous people.
The US has a history of medical racism and unethical experimentation on people of color. The National Research Act of 1974 outlawed unethical human experimentation on people of color and other vulnerable groups.
The COVID-19 vaccines were created by people of diverse backgrounds and reviewed by leading doctors and scientists of color, including the president of Meharry School of Medicine. The vaccines were tested in people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds and was found to be safe and effective.
The COVID-19 vaccines have been endorsed by the National Medical Association and the National Hispanic Medical Association, the country’s leading organizations of Black and Latino doctors.
The State of California requires that shots be made available first to those facing the greatest risk. This includes health care workers and first responders who have close, prolonged and repeated contact with patients who have COVID-19.
We’re committed to working with the CDC and California Department of Public Health to make sure that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be able to do so in an equitable and orderly way.
Due to the limited doses of the vaccines that will be available, UCLA Health will follow the CDC's tiered approach for prioritizing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine.
UCLA Health is awaiting guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on when the vaccines can be offered to patients. Once we can offer patients vaccines, we will start sending out appointment invites by email. When you receive your invitation, the email will direct you to log in to myUCLAhealth to schedule an appointment. We are committed to vaccinating all our patients, and each of our patients who desires the vaccine will receive it.
UCLA Health is following public health guidance for prioritizing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine to those facing the greatest risk. We assure you that each UCLA patient will be offered the opportunity to get vaccinated.
We are committed to vaccinating as many people as possible and are currently working on a plan to distribute the vaccine more broadly. Keep checking this website for updated information.
Likely sooner than others in your family. Transplant patients have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to their immunocompromised state. This means you will likely receive your notice to be vaccinated before others in your family without a transplant.
One of the easiest ways to be notified and to schedule for the vaccine is through the myUCLAhealth patient portal. If you do not have an account, please create one today.
No. UCLA Health will continue to receive vaccines produced by different manufacturers, and for now, patients will not be able to choose which vaccine they receive.
It is important that you receive the same vaccine for both doses, as vaccines cannot be “mixed.” For example, if you receive the Pfizer vaccine for your first dose, you must get a Pfizer vaccine for your second dose. This is the same for the Moderna vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free. If you have insurance, your insurance provider may be charged for the vaccine administration, but there will be no out-of-pocket cost for you. If you don’t have insurance, there is no cost.
The vaccine will be proactively offered to UCLA Health patients when the supply increases in 2021. We will be following the CDC’s phased vaccine distribution plan.
We will let patients know when they can schedule their vaccination through the online patient portal, myUCLAhealth. Once you receive this notification, you will be able to log in and self-schedule this appointment.
Please check your myUCLAhealth account to make sure your email address and other information is up to date. If you do not have a myUCLAhealth account, please follow the instructions on this page to sign up now, or call 855-364-7052.
Patients who do not have an active myUCLAhealth account will be contacted directly when they are eligible to receive the vaccine. However, the portal is the most efficient and convenient way for you to be notified and schedule your appointment.
The second dose is recommended to be received 21 days after the first dose for the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days after the first dose for the Moderna vaccine. A 4-day grace period is considered valid. So it’s acceptable to schedule your second dose at day 21-25 for Pfizer; day 28-32 for Moderna.
It is important to get the vaccine when it is offered to you. Strategies are in place to provide the vaccine to those highest at risk first.
If you are concerned about potential long-term side effects related to vaccination, please note that all previous vaccine studies show that serious vaccine-related side effects normally occur within 6-8 weeks (2 months) after a vaccine shot. Approximately 100,000 people received the vaccine more than 6 months ago and there have been no serious side effects.
Getting the vaccine will keep you safe and other people safe who cannot receive the vaccine. It is important that everyone who can get the vaccine get it so that we can end the pandemic through herd immunity.
Yes. Once you have been offered the opportunity to schedule your vaccine appointment, this order will not expire, and you may self-schedule later through myUCLAhealth. However, it is important to get the vaccine when it is offered to you to keep yourself and your community safe.
Once you receive an offer to schedule the vaccine appointment, it will not expire, and you can wait to schedule your appointment. While our goal is to offer vaccinations close to where patients live or work, we may not be able to offer the COVID-19 vaccine at your regular doctor’s office.
Based on distribution plans, you should receive your second vaccine dose at the same location where you received your first vaccine dose. If you are unable to do so, please talk to your doctor. You must receive the same vaccine for both dose, as vaccines cannot be “mixed.” For example, if you receive the Pfizer vaccine for your first dose, you must get a Pfizer vaccine for your second dose. This is the same for the Moderna vaccine.
If you already received the COVID-19 vaccine elsewhere, such as through your employer or through a health department, please inform your UCLA Health provider. They can update your immunization records to reflect this. We will also be able to query outside registries to identify patients who received the vaccine outside UCLA Health and update their immunization records accordingly.
Yes. While data suggest the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are very effective, no vaccine is 100% effective, and we do not yet know how long immunity will last after getting the two required shots. Therefore, we must continue to follow public health guidelines, such as wearing a face covering, practicing physical distancing and avoiding indoor crowds. UCLA Health will continue to follow universal masking in all medical clinics and hospitals even after employees and patients start receiving the vaccine.
UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force hosted a town hall on Jan. 14 to discuss the university’s planned approach to vaccine distribution and what to expect in the next few months.
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