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.
Sign up for VCU Health vaccine updates

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.

Before vaccines are approved for the general public, they have gone through a careful trial process with several phases to address their safety and effectiveness. The COVID-19 vaccines have been produced faster than any other vaccine because public health officials have been preparing for this vaccine since the virus was first discovered in 2019 and prioritized its development.

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 vaccines also protect you from getting severely ill. An efficacy rate of 95% means that some people who get vaccinated (1 in 20) may still get COVID-19. But nobody who has become COVID-positive after receiving the vaccine has had a severe case of the disease.

Does it matter which vaccine I get?

No. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are essentially equally effective.

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. Also refrain from the vaccine if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine, such as polyethylene glycol or polysorbate. 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 the vaccines because they don’t contain the live virus nor do they contain a weakened or dead version of the virus. The vaccines so far approved by the FDA are mRNA vaccines, which work by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

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?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 95% and 94% effective — not 100%. An efficacy rate of 95% means that some people who get vaccinated (1 in 20) may still get COVID-19.

If you are one of the 95% who do develop immunity, it typically takes about two weeks after your second vaccine dose to do so. You could get infected during this time, endangering your health. You could also spread the disease, endangering others.

Once most people are protected, restrictions may ease up a bit. 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?

It is recommended to get the vaccine, although reinfection appears rare after someone has had COVID-19.

If you have had COVID-19, wait at least 90 days from your date of diagnosis before getting the vaccine. If you’ve had 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, Brazil and the United Kingdom. The degree to which the vaccine is less effective is not yet fully known.

Should I wait for the one-dose vaccine?

A one-dose vaccine has not yet been approved. We do not know when, or if, a one-dose vaccine will be approved. Don’t take chances. We recommend getting whichever vaccine is offered when it’s available.

Can everybody get the vaccine now?

Not yet. Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities received the vaccine first.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has a vaccination website that lists who meets the current criteria for the COVID-19 vaccine in Virginia. You can also find out which phase you fit in.

We are offering our patients vaccine information updates via email. Register for our vaccine information emails.

If my second dose 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, don’t fret. You are still protected.

No one knows for sure if, or by how much, protection will decline after that. Experts don’t believe any difference that occurs will jeopardize your safety.

Although one dose will not provide 94-95% protection, as does two doses, your risk of infection is still low. And if you do get COVID-19, your symptoms should 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.

How will I know when it's my turn to receive the vaccine?

Approval of the vaccine for public use will come from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has a vaccination website that lists who meets the current criteria for the COVID-19 vaccine in Virginia. You can also find out which phase you fit in.

The Richmond City and Henrico County Health District offers a vaccination interest form that provides more information as it becomes available.

You can also sign up for our VCU Health vaccine information emails.

Where can I get the vaccine?

We will provide more information on vaccine availability and locations as it becomes available. You can also sign up for our vaccine information emails.

VCU Health is working closely with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to offer the vaccine to the public once it is available. The VDH is collaborating with a number of institutions who can provide the COVID-19 vaccine, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, local health departments, urgent care centers, outpatient centers and pharmacies.

Where can I find more information?

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has a great FAQ on their website with more information on the vaccine, its safety, and what to expect after you have been vaccinated.

Can I get the vaccine as a cancer patient?

Cancer patients, including those on active treatments that suppress the immune system, can be vaccinated against COVID-19. It is important to consult with your doctor first, as you may need to follow a different vaccine protocol.

Patients who have had a bone marrow transplant, stem cell transplant or CAR T-cell therapy should contact VCU Massey Cancer Center's post-transplant coordinator through the patient portal or at 804-628-7290. For more information about COVID-19 and cancer, please visit VCU Massey Cancer Center’s website.

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.

interested in vaccine

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.

maybe for the vaccine

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.

not interested in vaccine

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