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For the latest COVID-19 information, visit vcuhealth.org/covid-19 or Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU for pediatrics. For vaccine details, visit vcuhealth.org/covidvaccine.

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What You Need To Know

The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool to help stop the pandemic. We have started our vaccination efforts in line with Virginia's vaccine rollout plan. Please do not call about COVID-19 vaccine appointments. We are committed to vaccinating as many people as possible, as supply permits.

Due to a national vaccine shortage, we are not scheduling dose 1 vaccination appointments for patients. If you have a scheduled appointment for dose 2, your appointment still stands. However, we are closely monitoring the limited national vaccine supply and will contact you directly if your appointment needs to be rescheduled within a safe timeframe.

View frequently asked questions

Check this page for ongoing updates, as our plans may change based on staffing and vaccine availability. For general questions about COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccine, call our hotline at (804) 628-7425. If you're having a medical emergency, please call 911.

Current COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

Last updated on Feb. 2, 2021

For our patients:

  • Please do not call about COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
  • When we have vaccine available, we will offer it first to VCU Health patients who have received care at one of our hospitals or clinics within the past three years and meet the state’s Phase 1b requirements, ages 65 or older. Due to limited supply, we are prioritizing our oldest patients, starting with those 75 or older.
  • Appointments are required and walk-ups will not be accepted. We will contact you to make a vaccination appointment if you qualify under the state’s guidelines and we have the vaccine.
  • For patients interested in the vaccine who do not yet qualify, we will continue to keep you informed as the state announces each phase of the rollout plan.
  • Cancer patients who have had a bone marrow transplant, stem cell transplant or CAR T-cell therapy may need to follow a different vaccine protocol. Consult with your VCU Massey Cancer Center doctor before getting vaccinated.
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For members of the community:

  • We are committed to offering the vaccine to members of our community who meet the state’s Phase 1b requirements, ages 65 or older and front-line essential workers.
  • When we have vaccines available, we will host or support community vaccination events.
  • Please visit the Commonwealth of Virginia vaccine pre-registration system to get notified when it's your turn to receive the vaccine.

Upcoming events:

  • None scheduled at this time.
Commonwealth of Virginia Vaccine Pre-registration System

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COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I get the vaccine?

COVID-19 isn’t the same as the flu. It’s extremely dangerous — to you and those you come in contact with. If you develop severe symptoms from COVID-19 and survive, your recovery typically isn’t easy. You may require lengthy, difficult rehabilitation.

Now that vaccines are available, don’t take chances. Get the vaccine — to protect yourself, your family and the surrounding community.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved them under an emergency use authorization.

To be approved, the vaccines must go through a careful trial process with several phases to address safety and effectives. The COVID-19 vaccine trials did just that, and they included an extremely large number of participants. There were at least 30,000 people in both the Pfizer and Moderna trials, and 43,000 people in the Johnson & Johnson trials.

The COVID-19 vaccines were produced so rapidly not because they were rushed by cutting corners but because scientists have significant prior experience working with other coronaviruses such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). Research on a COVID-19 vaccine did not start from scratch.

In addition, the U.S. government made vaccine development a priority once the COVID-19 coronavirus took off in the U.S.

How effective are the vaccines?

The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective:

  • The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19.
  • The Moderna vaccine is 94% effective at preventing COVID-19.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 85% effective at preventing severe disease (hospitalization) and death at one-month post-vaccination

All three vaccine protect you from getting severely ill. No one who has tested COVID-positive after receiving any of these vaccine has died from COVID-19.

Although the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a lower efficacy rate, it was tested on people exposed to variants that were not widely circulating when the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were tested. If all three vaccines had been tested on a similar population, the results may well have been the same. Nonetheless, efficacy rates such as these are excellent.

Does it matter which vaccine I get?

No. All three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) are excellent at protecting you against COVID-19. Take whichever vaccine is offered to you.

Are there side effects?

As with most vaccines, you may experience mild to moderate side effects. These can include fatigue, mild fever, headache, muscle aches and pain in your arm at the injection site. These side effects may last a couple days but are completely normal.

Are there possible allergic reactions?

As with any medication, some people may experience an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. This risk is extremely small. To be on the safe side, health care workers may ask you to remain for a short period after your vaccination so they can monitor you for an allergic reaction and take action should one occur.

If you do suffer an allergic reaction, contact your doctor, as you may want to skip the second dose of the vaccine. An allergic reaction is considered severe if you require epinephrine or an EpiPen for treatment or you need to go to the hospital.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. You cannot get COVID-19 from any of the vaccines. None of the vaccines approved by the FDA contain the live coronavirus nor do they contain a weakened or dead version of the coronavirus. The vaccines have no coronavirus to pass on to you.

Once vaccinated, how long am I protected?

We don’t yet know how long the vaccines will protect you from COVID-19. It’s possible that over time more doses will be needed to provide continued protection — similar to the flu shot. Scientists are currently studying this.

Once I get the vaccine, can I stop wearing my mask?

None of the vaccines are 100% effective. An efficacy rate of 95%, for instance, means that some people who get vaccinated (1 in 20) may still get COVID-19.

If you are one of the many who do develop immunity, it usually takes 2-4 weeks after you complete the vaccine series to do so. You could get infected during this time, endangering your health. You might also still be able to spread the disease, both during this 2-4 week window as well as after you develop full immunity, endangering others.

Once most people are protected, restrictions may ease up. In the meantime, continue to wear your mask, practice social distancing, avoid crowds and wash your hands often.

If I've had COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated?

We recommend you get the vaccine. Although rare, reinfection is possible. Some experts recommend waiting three months from when you developed COVID-19. This is because you probably have some degree of natural immunity and the vaccine supply is currently limited. Importantly, it is not clear how long natural immunity will last. If you are in this three-month window, you should discuss the best time to get the vaccine with your doctor. If you've have symptoms of COVID-19 but were never diagnosed, don't assume you had the disease and are immune. Get the vaccine.

Will the vaccines protect me from the new strains of COVID-19?

The current vaccines may be less effective for certain strains of the virus, such as the strains from South Africa and Brazil. The degree to which the vaccines are less effective is not yet fully known but the currently available data suggests they all still offer some protection.

Should I wait for the one-dose vaccine?

Although the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine was just approved, you won't have a choice as to which vaccine you receive when it's your turn. All three vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease. The sooner you get the vaccine, the sooner you will be protected. We recommend getting whichever vaccine is offered when it’s available.

How do I get the vaccine?

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has information on who currently qualifies for the vaccine in Virginia. On this website, you can find out which phase you fit in and register for the vaccine. VDH is working with a number of institutions to provide the COVID-19 vaccine. You will learn where you will get the vaccine when your appointment is scheduled. .

If my second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is delayed, will I still be protected?

Because of vaccine shortages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now allows six weeks between your first and second doses. The CDC believes this extension will not alter the degree of protection you receive.

If you don’t receive your second dose within six weeks, you likely still have some protection.

No one knows for sure if, or by how much, protection will decline after 6 weeks.

Although one dose will not provide 94-95% protection, as does two doses, your risk of infection is still lower. And if you do get COVID-19, your symptoms will likely be much less severe than had you received no vaccine at all.

The medical community is doing all it can to get more vaccine as soon as possible and will let you know when appointments for your second dose are available. If this is beyond the two-week extension, you will not have to start over with dose 1. You will still need only one more dose.

Where can I find more information?

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has a great FAQ on its website with more information on the vaccine, its safety, and what to expect after you've been vaccinated. You can also check our COVID-19 vaccine news and sign up for vaccine email updates.

Do you plan to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is here. Learn more about the vaccine below. As we wait for broad vaccine availability, we urge you to keep using precautions for the safety of our community.

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COVID-19 pandemic help is here

Supporting the community with COVID-19 relief

We’re preparing to provide you and the community with the COVID-19 vaccine. We’ll be releasing more details soon on how to measure your eligibility and how you can get the vaccine.

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Why is vaccination important?

Vaccines are critical to the fight against COVID-19

You may be considering receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but aren’t sure if you want to go through with it. We understand you need information to make the decision that’s right for you. Our staff is here to share their expertise and firsthand insight.

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Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Safety and efficacy are always top of mind

Are you concerned about getting the COVID-19 vaccine because it may not be safe? Hear from our team of experts on why the rewards outweigh the risks and the goal of a vaccinated community.

Sign up for COVID-19 and vaccine updates

Subscribe to receive our emails, alerts and newsletter updates.

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COVID-19 information

Looking for COVID-19 information or need the latest update on our visitor policy? We have frequently asked questions, interviews with our experts and steps we’re taking to safely treat our patients.

View all COVID-19 Information