COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Learn about eligibility, how to make an appointment, and other information about vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Learn about eligibility, how to make an appointment, and other information about vaccines

Provider putting a band aid on the arm of a boy who just received a COVID vaccine

    How to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

    UW Medicine follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine administration guidelines. We will not administer vaccines outside of these guidelines.

    First and second, and third dose

    Ages 12 and older

    We offer first and second vaccine doses to ages 12+.

    Ages 6 to 11 years old

    We offer first and second vaccine doses to ages 6 to 11 years old.

    Ages 6 months to 5 years old

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommend the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for use in children 6 months to 5 years old. 

    We offer first, second, and third dose vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years old at the clinics listed below. If your child has an appointment already scheduled at one of the following clinics, please plan to have your child vaccinated during that appointment.   

    • Pediatric Care Center at UW Medical Center  
    • Pediatric Clinic at Harborview Medical Center  
    • Primary Care at Kent-Des-Moines 
    • Primary Care at Shoreline  
    • Family Medicine Clinic at Harborview Medical Center (only patients established at this location can book here) 

    If your child’s primary care provider does not treat patients at one of the clinics listed above or is outside UW Medicine, we recommend that you check with them for scheduling. However, we are happy to vaccinate your child if needed. Visit King County’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage for other appointment options.

    For more information, visit our child vaccine page

    Boosters

    A booster is an additional shot that helps to extend the vaccine's' effectiveness and maximize your protection from COVID-19 infection. Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer boosters are now available to all patients who meet eligibility requirements. As authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), your booster is not required to be the same COVID-19 vaccine as the one you received in your initial dose(s). 

    For those who are immunocompromised, the CDC has updated its recommended intervals between the primary series and booster shots from five months to three months. They are also recommending third doses for those who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine — the original dose followed by a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) at least four weeks (28 days) after the first dose, plus a booster (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least two months after the second dose.

    If your initial vaccine series was Pfizer

    1. It must be at least five months since you completed your primary vaccine series; and
    2. You must be age 5 or older.

    If your initial vaccine series was Moderna

    1. It must be at least five months since you completed your primary vaccine series; and
    2. You must be age 18 or older.

    If your initial vaccine series was Johnson & Johnson

    1. It must be at least two months since you received your vaccine; and
    2. You must be age 18 or older.

    Appointments are available at UW Medical Center – Montlake, Harborview and UW Medicine primary care clinics.

    Third dose for Immunocompromised individuals

    Pfizer vaccines

    Immunocompromised individuals age 5 and older can schedule a third vaccine dose of the Pfizer vaccine beginning 28 days after their second dose.

    Moderna vaccines

    Immunocompromised individuals age 18 and older can schedule a third vaccine dose of the Moderna vaccine beginning 28 days after their second dose.

    What is the difference between a third dose and booster?

    A third dose is considered part of the initial vaccine series if you are immunocompromised. Because your immune system does not provide enough response to the first two vaccine doses, you require a third dose to create immunity. This differs from a booster, which provides a boost when an initially sufficient immune response to a vaccine weakens over time.

    Second Boosters

    The CDC and FDA have authorized second booster doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for certain groups of people. You are eligible for a second booster if you meet one of the following criteria and it has been at least four months since your initial booster:

    • 50 years or older
    • 12 years or older and are moderately or severely immunocompromised (patients ages 12 to 17 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine)
    • 18 years or older and received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as both your primary series dose and first booster dose

    COVID-19 vaccine locations

    Vaccine appointments are available at our clinics throughout the region.

    * Offers vaccination appointments for children 6 months to 5-years-old

    • Ballard
    • Federal Way
    • Issaquah
    • Northgate
    • South Lake Union
    • Belltown
    • First Hill*
    • Kent-Des Moines*
    • Ravenna
    • University District*
    • Factoria
    • Fremont
    • Lake Forest Park
    • Shoreline*
    • Woodinville

    Additional information

    Parking fees may apply based on clinic location and duration of appointment.

    You do not need to be a current UW Medicine patient to receive a vaccine.

    Questions or concerns after getting vaccinated

    If you are experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine, call 911.

    For any other questions about vaccine symptoms, please call your primary care provider or the UW Medicine nurse line at 206.520.7555.

    If you do not have a primary care provider, UW Medicine has primary care locations across the Puget Sound.

    Frequently asked questions

    How do vaccines work?

    When you get the COVID-19 vaccine, it teaches your immune system to recognize and make antibodies, or ""fighter cells,"" against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The antibodies stay in your blood and protect you against coronavirus without having to get sick. When enough people in the community can fight off COVID-19 then it has nowhere else to go - this is called herd or population immunity, and it helps stop the spread and more quickly end the pandemic.
    HOW DO VACCINES WORK IN YOUR BODY

    What are the different types of COVID-19 vaccines in use or in development?

    There are three types of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The first kind are RNA vaccines, the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna use this approach. The second type are Protein vaccines, the vaccine being produced by Novavax uses this approach. The third kind are Vector vaccines, the vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson use this approach.

    RNA vaccines:

    The SARS-CoV-2 gene that creates the spike protein can be used in the form of DNA or messenger RNA (mRNA) as a vaccine. This type of vaccine trains our body to recognize and fight the protein. Once the body does this, it then discards the mRNA.

    Pfizer and Moderna produce RNA vaccines. These vaccines are authorized for emergency use in the U.S.

    Protein vaccines:

    Harmless pieces of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein are used to make this vaccine. This type of vaccine is also used for whooping cough (pertussis) and hepatitis B.

    Novavax produces a Protein vaccine. It is in Phase 3 clinic trials in the U.S.

    Vector vaccines:

    The SARS-CoV-2 gene that creates the spike protein is inserted into a harmless virus to deliver the gene to human cells. The spike protein then stimulates immune responses. Adenoviruses, which cause common cold-like symptoms, are often used as the viral vector for these types of vaccines.

    AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson produce Vector vaccines.

    How effective are COVID-19 vaccines?

    Vaccine effectiveness is how well the vaccine works in the outside world at preventing illness. All the vaccines are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and death. However, a vaccine does not need high effectiveness to make a significant impact. The seasonal flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths each year. According to the CDC, its effectiveness ranges between 40% to 60% each year. COVID-19 vaccines are at least as effective or more effective as the flu vaccine.

    Vaccine effectiveness also varies based on COVID-19 variants or mutations. We know that some of the vaccines are less effective against the variants first found in Brazil, South Africa and the U.K.

    Vaccine efficacy is the measure used in clinical trials.

    Each COVID-19 vaccine has a different level of efficacy against milder disease. The vaccines in use or in Phase 3 clinical trials have an efficacy ranging between 57% and 95% in preventing symptomatic infection.

    Will the vaccines be effective against new COVID-19 variants?

    COVID-19 variants are emerging and proving to be more contagious than the original coronavirus. However, current Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still effective against these new variants.

    Mutations are making COVID-19 better at latching onto human cells. This makes it spread more easily from person to person. It requires a smaller amount of virus and less time in the same room with an infected person for someone to catch the mutated coronavirus.

    It's important to take all precautions to prevent transmission of the new variants:

    • Wear a mask with multiple layers 
    • Maintain physical distance from others
    • Practice good hand hygiene

    Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

    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.

    What is herd immunity?

    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.

    Boosters and third doses

    Who is eligible for a booster dose?

    All people 5 years and older are eligible for one booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine after they have completed a primary vaccine series.

    Who is eligibile for a second booster dose?

    You are eligible for a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine if you meet one of the following criteria and it has been at least 4 months since your initial booster:
    1. 50 years or older,
    2. 2 years or older and are moderately or severely immunocompromised,
    3. 18 years or older and received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as both your primary series dose and initial booster dose.

    What is the difference between a booster and an additional dose?

    Boosters are subsequent doses given after a period of time – usually four or five months – following the completion of a primary vaccine series. They are intended to enhance or restore protection that has waned with time.

    Additional doses are doses given to people who are less likely to mount a protective immune response after initial vaccination. They are especially important for people with moderately or severely weakened immune systems.

    Who should get an additional dose?

    The CDC recommends that individuals 5 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get an additional dose – or 3 doses total – of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as their primary vaccine series.

    For individuals 18 years or older who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine as their primary vaccine dose, the CDC recommends an additional dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 4 weeks later.

    What does it mean to be immunocompromised?

    Eligible conditions include:

    • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
    • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
    • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
    • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge, Wiskott-Aldrich syndromes)
    • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
    • Active treatment with any of the following medications:
      • Azathioprine (Imuran) 
      • B-cell activating factor (BAFF) inhibitor: belimumab (Benlysta)
      • Cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive
      • Cyclophosphamide at any dose within the last 3 months
      • Cyclosporine (Neoral, Gengraf, Sandimmune)
      • High-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day)
      • Interleukin-1(IL-1) blockers: anakinra (Kineret), rilonacept (Arcalyst), canakinumab (Ilaris) 
      • Interleukin-6 (IL-6) blockers: tocilizumab (Actemra), sarilumab (Kevzara)
      • Interleukin-12/23 (IL-12/23) blockers: ustekinumab (Stelara)
      • Interleukin-17 (IL-17) blockers: secukinumab (Cosentyx), ixekizumab (Taltz)
      • Interleukin-23 (IL-23) blockers: guselkumab (Tremfya), risankizumab (Skyrizi) and tildrakizumab (Ilumya)
      • Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors: tofacitinib (Xeljanz), baricitinib (Olumiant), upadacitinib (Rinvoq)
      • Leflunomide (Arava)
      • Methotrexate
      • Mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept) or mycophenolic acid (Myfortic)
      • Rituximab (Rituxan, Ruxience, Truxima) at any dose within the last 12 months
      • Tacrolimus (Prograf)
      • TNF blockers: infliximab (Remicade, Inflectra, Renflexis), adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab (Cimzia), golimumab (Simponi), and etanercept (Enbrel)
      • T-cell co-stimulation blocker: abatacept (Orencia)

    If you are unsure if you are immunocompromised, please contact your health care provider.

    Are boosters available for all COVID-19 vaccines? Does my booster or third dose need to be the same vaccine as the one I received for my initial series?

    All vaccines are eligible to receive a booster dose. While boosters are not required to be the same COVID-19 vaccine as the initial series, the CDC recommends individuals receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine whenever possible.

    Does my child (5 or older) need a booster?

    The CDC recommends that children ages 5 and older should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.

    Can I get the flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine together or in close proximity?

    The CDC has approved the safety and effectiveness of receiving the COVID vaccine and other vaccines, including for the flu, at the same time. This is a change from a previous recommendation to wait a minimum of 14 days between different vaccinations.

    Availability

    Who is eligible to receive a vaccine now?

    Anyone 6 months or older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine is approved for 6 months and up. The Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for those 18 and older.

    Which vaccine is UW Medicine offering?

    UW Medicine is offering the vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. However, the CDC recommends individuals receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine whenever possible.

    Which vaccine should I get? May I choose the vaccine I get?

    The CDC recommends individuals get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine whenever possible. Depending on supply, you may have the option to request a particular vaccine type at the time of scheduling. All the vaccines are safe and effective. They all prevent severe illness and death.

    Safety

    Are COVID-19 vaccines 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. Safety and efficacy, meaning 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.

    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.

    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:

    HOW COVID-19 VACCINES ARE MADE WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION?

    Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?

    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.

    Is there a link between myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and the COVID-19 vaccine?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, otherwise known as the CDC, has found a likely association between mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna and myocarditis. However, these cases have been exceedingly rare, occurring mostly in male adolescents and young adults age 16 or older. The benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

    Cases have typically occurred within seven days of receiving the second dose. Most patients who received care responded well to treatment and rest and quickly felt better.

    What symptoms of myocarditis should I watch for after getting vaccinated?

    Although myocarditis is an extremely rare occurrence following vaccination, you should seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms after receiving a mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna: chest pain, shortness of breath or feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart.

    Scheduling

    How do I confirm the day and time of my scheduled vaccine appointment?

    To confirm your vaccine appointment day and time, you will receive an email at the time of scheduling with appointment details. You may also check the day and time of your appointment in MyChart. As your appointment nears, you will receive a reminder message by phone or text.

    I received my first dose from another provider. Can I still schedule my second dose through UW Medicine?

    You can schedule a second dose appointment through UW Medicine even if you received your first dose from another provider.

    You may schedule a second dose appointment in one of the ways listed at the top of this page.

    What if I need to reschedule or cancel my vaccine appointment?

    You may reschedule or cancel your appointment through MyChart. Instructions for doing both can be found on the “Visits” page within MyChart. You may also reschedule your appointment by phone, or cancel it by phone or text, by responding to one of the reminders you will receive from us as your appointment nears.

    What to expect

    What happens if I don’t get my second dose within the recommended time frame?

    While it is best to get your second dose within the recommended time frame, it is OK to receive the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines up to six weeks after the first dose.

    It may not always be possible to get the second dose within the recommended time frame, but if the second dose is given late, there is no need to restart the series.

    Can COVID-19 vaccine doses be mixed and matched?

    The CDC recommends that you receive the same COVID-19 vaccine product for your initial vaccination. For example, if you receive the Pfizer vaccine for your first dose, then you should receive Pfizer for your second as well. However, you may receive any of the three COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, for your booster dose.

    You may choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

    What are the side effects?

    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. Before receiving either vaccine, please let your doctor know if you've had severe allergic reactions in the past.

    Some people who have received the Moderna vaccine reported delayed allergic reactions. These reactions occur at or near the site of injection on their arm around 5 to 7 days after vaccination. Symptoms included redness, rash or swelling. You may still receive the second dose of vaccine if you have had this type of reaction.

    How long will the vaccine protect me? Will I have to get a COVID-19 shot every year?

    We don’t know yet how long the protection from the vaccine will last. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about.

    If I get a COVID-19 vaccine, do I still have to wear a mask?

    Once you are fully vaccinated, meaning two weeks after receiving your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you may resume many of your normal routines as outlined in the CDC’s guidelines for fully vaccinated adults. Note that wearing a mask indoors in public is recommended to maximize protection for yourself and prevent transmission of the virus to others.

    How much will the vaccine cost?

    The federal government is providing the vaccine drug free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. Please call the UW Medicine billing office at 206.598.4388 for more information or if you have any other questions.

    Special circumstances

    If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, should I still get vaccinated?

    You should still get vaccinated even if you already had COVID-19. However, we recommend that you wait until you are no longer under quarantine or isolation to avoid transmission of infection to others.

    Should pregnant or breastfeeding mothers get the vaccine?

    Pregnant and breastfeeding women should get the vaccine once it is available to them. The UW 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.

    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.

    Should I get a vaccine prior to surgery? What if I've recently been vaccinated?

    COVID-19 vaccination is not required before surgery or other procedures. If you are wondering if you should get vaccinated before your upcoming procedure, please consult your physician.

    If you are planning to be vaccinated prior to surgery, please follow this guidance:

    • Avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine within seven days before elective surgery. It is common to have some COVID-19-like symptoms after vaccination. These symptoms would lead to potential delays in the procedure, a need for more testing or both.
    • You may have surgery if you've received the vaccine three to six days before if you have not developed symptoms (such as fevers, chills, myalgias, headache).
    • Avoid getting vaccinated in the same area of your body where you are having surgery. Delayed vaccine site reactions can occur and can appear like a local infection.
    • Avoid scheduling elective surgery within 48 hours of vaccination. If you've been vaccinated within 48 hours of your scheduled surgery, it is OK to proceed if you don't have symptoms. Urgent surgeries should not be delayed because of the vaccine.
    • If the second dose of vaccine conflicts with your planned surgery, it is OK to delay the second dose until after you've recovered. The second vaccine dose may be given up to 42 days after the initial dose."

    Vaccine records

    Can I add a record of my COVID-19 vaccine to MyChart if I received it outside the UW Medicine system?

    If you received your COVID-19 vaccine outside of the UW Medicine system, you can add a record of it to MyChart by sending a photo of your vaccine card to your provider through MyChart or by bringing your vaccine card to your next appointment with a UW Medicine provider. If you received your vaccination through UW Medicine, a record of your vaccination will be added automatically to our system.

    How do I verify my vaccination status with the State of Washington?

    You may confirm your vaccination status by calling the state’s vaccine hotline at 1.833.VAX.HELP. You can also access your family’s immunization information online at doh.wa.gov under: Find immunization information.

    How do I correct my COVID-19 vaccination records in the Washington State Immunization Information System (WAIIS)?

    You may do this in one of three ways. If you were vaccinated by a healthcare provider, you should contact the provider’s office to have your immunization record verified and corrected. If you were vaccinated at a site that remains open, you can return to that site and request a correction from the clinic supervisor. If the site where you were vaccinated is now closed, you can email waiisrecords@doh.wa.gov to request assistance.

    What do I do if I lost my vaccine card or need proof of my vaccination status?

    If you lost your vaccine card or need to prove your vaccine status and you were vaccinated through UW Medicine, you may confirm your vaccination status in one of the following ways:
    1. Log into MyChart and print out this information from your MyChart home page,
    2. Contact the UW Medicine Health Records department and request a copy,
    3. Request your care team print out your immunization history during your next clinic appointment or visit
    4. Call the state’s vaccine hotline at 1.833.VAX.HELP or access your family’s immunization information online at doh.wa.gov under: Find immunization information.

    You can also get a digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record at: WAverify.doh.wa.gov.

    COVID-19 Resources

    Community Conversations: Straight Talk about COVID-19

    From variants to vaccines to local and national guidelines, these weekly conversations provide you with need-to-know COVID-19 information from the Office of Healthcare Equity and UW Medicine Infectious Disease experts