COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Patients
NYU Langone is offering patients age 16 and older the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine. Here are answers to some of your questions about the safety of the vaccine, 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, 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.
Will I be able to choose which vaccine I receive?
Patients vaccinated at NYU Langone may receive the Pfizer–BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, based on our available supply. Patients will not be able to choose which vaccine they receive. Each vaccine has been shown to prevent severe disease and significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.
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 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 I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No, you can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccine. Because the vaccines do not contain the virus, the vaccine cannot make you sick from COVID-19. The Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to help the immune system recognize and respond to the COVID-19 virus.
The mRNA contains a message to the cells on how to make a certain “spike protein” that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. The spike protein on its own cannot cause COVID-19. However, its presence triggers your immune system, which recognizes that the protein should not be there. In response, your body creates antibodies to attack the virus’s spike protein.
Then, if you are exposed to the virus in the future, your body already has the antibodies it needs to disable the virus and prevent you from getting sick.
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 those vaccines.
After your first vaccination, 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.
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.
- You have had any vaccine in the past 14 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
- women 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
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.
Can pregnant or breastfeeding women get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Women 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 women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant women 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 women 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.
Why do healthy people need to be vaccinated?
The fewer people who get COVID-19, the less likely it is to spread through the community. So even if you are not at high risk for complications, you could spread the infection to people who are.
When will children be able to get vaccinated?
The Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine is approved for use in adolescents aged 16 and older. Vaccine availability for children younger than age 16 has not yet been approved. Children 12 years of age and older are currently enrolled in vaccine trials and immunizations should be available to them in the next few months.
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 for everyone as COVID-19 continues to circulate.