Key points about COVID-19 vaccines
What we know
- We are now in Phase 1B of Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Timeline.
- UW Medicine is scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments for eligible patients in Phase 1A and 1B.
- Phase 1A includes high-risk health care workers, first responders, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities.
- This first group of Phase 1B patients eligible for vaccination includes individuals who are age 65 years and older and individuals who are age 50 years and older in a multigenerational (two or more generations) household.
- Two COVID-19 vaccines have received FDA Emergency Use Authorization and approval from the Western States Scientific Review Group. One vaccine was developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and the other by Moderna.
- Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine are equally safe and effective.
- There are many benefits of getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and doing so will help end the pandemic.
- We still need to wear masks, practice physical distancing and wash our hands to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
When will the vaccine be available to me?
Not everyone will be vaccinated right away. We understand this may be concerning, especially if you or a loved one is a high-risk worker in the community or at risk of serious illness.
Your UW Medicine eCare account is the best way to stay informed about your vaccination registration timing. We encourage you to sign up or log in to mychart.uwmedicine.org for the latest information, as it becomes available.
UW Medicine is scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments for eligible patients in Phase 1A and 1B.
Criteria for first group in Phase 1B
This first group of patients eligible to receive the vaccine includes:
- Individuals who are age 65 years and older
- Individuals who are age 50 years and older in a multigenerational (two or more generations) household, defined as:
- People who are 50 and older AND are not able to live independently, who either:
- Are receiving long-term care from a paid or unpaid caregiver, or
- Are living with someone who works outside the home
- People who are 50 and older AND are living with and caring for a grandchild, niece or nephew
- People who are 50 and older AND are not able to live independently, who either:
No individuals under age 50 are eligible, and no individuals age 50 and older caring for a partner, friend or child (unless that child is defined as above) are eligible.
If you are a member of the previous Phase 1A, which includes high-risk health care workers, first responders, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities, you also remain eligible to receive the vaccine.
How to get the vaccine
Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines
The COVID-19 vaccine teaches your immune system to recognize the coronavirus. When you get the vaccine, your immune system makes antibodies (“fighter cells”) against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, that stay in your blood and protect you in case you are infected with the virus. You get protection against the disease without having to get sick. When enough people in the community can fight off the coronavirus — something called herd or population immunity — it has nowhere to go. This means we can stop the spread quicker and get closer to ending the pandemic.
We believe that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 will help prevent you from getting seriously ill even if you get infected with the virus. Vaccination helps reduce the spread of a virus and protects the people around you, including people who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Based on what we know about viruses, we think it will help. Stopping a pandemic requires us to use all the tools we have available, including masks, physical distancing and vaccines to help limit the spread.
Herd or population immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection from a virus or bacteria — either from previous infection or vaccination — that it is unlikely the disease can spread. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people don't have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.
Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19.
Right now, we are scheduling the COVID-19 vaccine for patients who meet the criteria for Phase 1A and the first group of Phase 1B. We are not taking names for a waiting list. Phase 1A includes high-risk health care workers, first responders, and staff and residents for long-term care facilities. The first group of Phase 1B includes all people 65 years and older and people 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households.
For more information on DOH vaccination plans, visit CovidVaccineWA.org.
We will notify patients of vaccine availability by email and here on the COVID-19 vaccine web page.
Currently, UW Medicine is offering two COVID-19 vaccines. One vaccine was developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and the other by Moderna. Both vaccines have received FDA Emergency Use Authorization and approval from the Western States Scientific Review Group. Other vaccines are currently in clinical trials.
You should get the vaccine available to you when you are eligible to schedule your vaccination. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine are equally safe and effective.
COVID-19 vaccines are being carefully evaluated in clinical trials and will only be allowed for use if the FDA considers them safe and effective.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, since we 're in a pandemic, developing a new vaccine can go faster than normal. No steps are skipped, but some steps happen at the same time, like applications, trials and manufacturing.
You may have heard the term "emergency use authorization." This is one of the tools the FDA is using to make critical medical products, including tests and vaccines, available quickly during the pandemic. It helps speed up the process of approval, clearance and licensing.
Safety and efficacy (how well the vaccine works to protect you) are determined by clinical trials. After clinical trials, medical experts examine test results and any side effects. If the vaccine works and is safe, it will get approved for distribution to the public.
Washington state has joined other western states, the Western States Scientific Review Group, to do an additional expert review of the clinical trials' results to make sure the vaccine is ready for distribution.
Watch these videos to learn more about how vaccines are approved:
No, it is not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. The new COVID-19 vaccines use inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus, parts of the virus (like the spike protein) or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.
Yes. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, we recommend that you wait. This allows others who remain at higher risk for infection to be vaccinated first. Current evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon 90 days after the initial infection.
Children are not a priority group for vaccines yet but may become eligible once the vaccine is more widely available.
In addition, major vaccine trials so far have focused on adults. As more vaccine clinical trials enroll children, we'll learn about the safety and efficacy for them.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should get the vaccine once it is available to them. We know that:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women were not included in the COVID-19 clinical trials.
- The risk of maternal or fetal harm from an mRNA vaccine is unknown but thought to be low.
- COVID-19 disease carries an increased risk in pregnancy. This is particularly true for patients with obesity or other medical conditions.
The UW Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists support offering the COVID-19 vaccine to pregnant and breastfeeding patients.
Please speak to your doctor if you are concerned or have more questions.
What to expect
What to expect
Most of the vaccines need two shots to be effective. In the future, a vaccine using one shot may be approved.
Vaccine side effects may be unpleasant but are not dangerous. In clinical trials, some people experienced fever, muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue and headaches. Most people will not experience side effects that prevent daily activity.
We don’t know yet. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about.
Yes. To prevent unvaccinated people from getting sick, it's important to continue washing your hands, wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart and limiting gatherings until enough people have received the vaccine.
We know vaccination will prevent you from getting sick, but we do not know if the vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus to others yet.
According to the CDC, vaccine doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be given at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. These providers, such as clinics, pharmacies and hospitals, can get this fee reimbursed by a patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
COVID-19 Vaccine Symposium
In October 2020, the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University brought together experts to discuss how to move forward with COVID-19 vaccine trials. These leading voices in vaccine research explored complex issues and discussed how to protect the scientific integrity of ongoing efforts.