COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Patients
NYU Langone is offering patients age 12 and older the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine. Here are answers to some of your questions about the safety of the vaccine, how it works, and who should get vaccinated and why.
How does NYU Langone decide which patients to vaccinate, and how will I find out when I can schedule an appointment?
We are notifying patients individually by email and text message that they can schedule their vaccination through NYU Langone Health MyChart, based on our available supply of the vaccine. We will contact you directly as soon as we have appointment availability. Please do not contact your doctor’s office to request a vaccination, as our appointments are being scheduled at specialized vaccination locations.
We are offering the vaccine to as many eligible patients as we can, based on our supply, and are only scheduling vaccinations after we have confirmed that we have doses available for distribution.
Why do healthy people need to be vaccinated?
When healthy people are vaccinated, they help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the virus’s opportunity to spread from person to person. Vaccination is also a way that healthy people can protect people who are at high risk for complications from contracting COVID-19. By getting vaccinated, you are protecting yourself, your family, and your community by helping control spread of the disease.
If I had COVID-19, do I need to be vaccinated?
There is evidence that natural immunity continues beyond six months after the initial infection, but more research is needed. While we learn more about this, the CDC recommends that you receive the vaccine, although you can defer for three to six months after you have received a COVID-19 diagnosis.
How can I be sure the vaccine is safe?
Tens of millions of Americans have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and millions more receive the vaccine each day. Tens of thousands of people received the COVID-19 vaccine during the clinical trial process. NYU Langone has also been involved in testing COVID-19 vaccines through clinical trials at our Vaccine Center, which is 1 of 10 Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units in the United States funded by the National Institutes of Health. (The Vaccine Center is a research center and is not involved in giving vaccines to the general public.) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed data from those extensive clinical trials, which showed that the vaccine is safe and that its benefits outweigh its known or potential risks.
Vaccines work by priming the body’s immune system to fight the virus. Vaccine reactions, such as a sore arm, headache, fatigue, or nausea, are normal and are signs that the body is responding to the vaccine.
We encourage our patients to talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns you have about the vaccine, so you can make an informed decision.
Can children be vaccinated?
The Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine is approved for use in adolescents age 12 and older, and we are making the vaccine available to patients in that age group. The FDA has not yet approved vaccine for children under age 12. Vaccine trials in younger children are ongoing, and immunizations should be available to them in the next few months.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No, you can’t get COVID-19 from any of the COVID-19 vaccines because they do not contain elements that are capable of making you sick. There are two types of COVID-19 vaccines currently available: messenger RNA (mRNA) and viral vector vaccines.
The Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use mRNA to send a message to the cells on how to make a certain harmless spike protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19.
The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine works similarly to the mRNA vaccine. However, instead of using mRNA as the messenger, viral vector vaccines deliver the spike protein instructions by adding them to a common cold virus, which is modified so that it cannot make you sick. When you receive the vaccine, the harmless virus enters your cells, and information on how to make the spike protein is picked up by the cell’s mRNA.
With both vaccines, your cells use the mRNA information to create a unique spike protein that is found on the surface of the coronavirus. The protein on its own cannot make you sick. But it plays an important role: it introduces your immune system to a protein that it has never seen before, and gives it the opportunity to create antibodies against it. This way, if your body is ever confronted by the actual coronavirus, your immune system already knows which antibodies it needs to kill the virus and protect you from illness.
Why do some vaccines require two doses?
In clinical trials, the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines required a second dose to achieve the best possible protection, which after two shots is about 95 percent for adults receiving those vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose, which is 72 percent effective after just one shot. The FDA required that a vaccine have an efficacy rate of 50 percent—about what is found in the flu vaccine—in order to be approved. All three vaccines prevent severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalization and death. During all three clinical trials, there were no COVID-related deaths among the more than 120,000 participants.
If you received a vaccine that requires two doses, you will receive a notification in your MyChart account to schedule your appointment for the second dose of vaccine. You will be directed to schedule within the appropriate timeframe based on the type of COVID-19 vaccine received in your first dose. Please schedule this appointment as soon as possible.
Whether you need one dose or two, it takes your immune system two to four weeks after your last dose to achieve maximum vaccination protection. You should continue to wear a mask and adhere to other safety guidelines even after you are vaccinated, and until the virus is no longer circulating.
Are there any reasons a person should not get vaccinated?
You should not get vaccinated if any of the following statements apply to you:
- You are currently feeling sick.
- You have an active COVID-19 infection. (You can schedule 10 days after you have received a positive COVID-19 test result or 72 hours after your fever ends.)
- You received a COVID-19 diagnosis and were treated with COVID-19 monoclonal antibody infusions or convalescent plasma within the past 90 days.
There are no diagnoses or conditions that prohibit a person from being vaccinated, but certain people should consult with their doctor before getting the vaccine. This includes the following:
- people with a history of a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine
- people who have a condition that affects their immune system
- people who are getting radiation therapy or chemotherapy
- people who are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding
- people who are taking medications that affect their immune system or have taken corticosteroids for more than 14 days
Can pregnant or breastfeeding people get the COVID-19 vaccine?
People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk with their obstetrician about whether they should receive the COVID-19 vaccine, based on their individual risk factors.
The CDC recommends that the vaccine be made available to people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant people were not involved in the vaccine clinical trials, but mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, do not contain live virus and are thought to be safe for a developing fetus and the breastfeeding infant. To date, more than 30,000 pregnant people in the U.S. have received mRNA vaccination and there have been no abnormal signals.
Contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy can increase the risk of severe illness and preterm birth, and so the benefits of the vaccine could outweigh any risk. While more research is needed, it is possible that receiving the vaccine during breastfeeding can provide protection to your child through antibodies present in breastmilk.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine affect fertility?
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects fertility in women or men. More than 20 people became pregnant while participating in the vaccine clinical trials. One poor pregnancy outcome was reported, but this was for a person in the control/placebo group, meaning that she did not receive the vaccine.
In addition, there is no data to support that the vaccine or the resulting immune reaction has any effect on conception or fetal development. If the spike protein created by the vaccine caused infertility, an infection with COVID-19 should also, and there is no evidence that it does.
Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about the vaccine and future family planning.
How can I let NYU Langone know that I received the vaccine somewhere else?
If you’ve received the vaccine outside NYU Langone, please let us know by uploading proof of vaccination into your NYU Langone Health MyChart account. This lets your care team know you’ve been vaccinated, and becomes the official digital record of your vaccination. Knowing which of our patients has received the vaccine also allows us to offer it to other eligible patients who have not yet been vaccinated.
After you receive all required doses of the vaccine, please follow these steps:
- Log into the NYU Langone Health app or NYU Langone Health MyChart.
- Select the orange “Upload COVID Vaccine Proof” icon.
- You will be prompted to upload a photo of your vaccination card that shows proof that you received all required doses of the vaccine.
- After you have uploaded the photo, press Continue, then Submit.
How can people continue to limit risk of COVID-19?
Until the vast majority of the population is vaccinated, transmission is still possible, so continue to protect yourself and your family by maintaining 6 feet of distance and wearing a mask when around others. Other ways to prevent the spread include washing your hands regularly, avoiding crowded indoor gatherings, staying away from others if you are sick, and routinely cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.
After vaccination, will people still need to wear masks?
Remaining vigilant about avoiding the spread of COVID-19 is crucial. Vaccines are not cures, and even after receiving the vaccine the body requires time to develop an immune response. No vaccine is 100 percent effective. There is a small chance that you could become infected with COVID-19 after vaccination and potentially infect others, regardless of whether you are showing symptoms or not. For these reasons, precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing should continue in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for everyone as COVID-19 continues to circulate.