COVID-19 vaccine

Page last updated: April 13

We will be updating this page regularly with the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine. Also, check the CDC and DuPage County Health Department for more information.

COVID-19 - Vaccine distribution

Edward-Elmhurst Health is following guidance from state and local public health departments on a phased approach to distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, based on vaccine supply and risk prioritization.

Phase 1A focused on vaccinating healthcare workers in our communities. During Phase 1B, we've been using the vaccines we are allocated to vaccinate at-risk frontline workers in our primary service area and targeted groups of high-risk patients who are age 65 and older. Phase 1B Plus has expanded COVID-19 vaccine opportunities to newly eligible individuals, including those age 16 to 64 with comorbidities and underlying conditions, as well as individuals with disabilities.

We have received a limited supply of vaccine for COVID-19. If you are part of group 1B and have received an order for the vaccine, you can now log in to your MyChart to check for appointment availability.

Vaccine distribution Q&A

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is currently in limited supply and is being distributed in phases by local health departments. Phase 1A includes healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Phase 1B focuses on people age 65 and older and other essential workers. Phase 1B Plus includes persons age 16 to 64 with comorbidities and underlying conditions, as well as individuals with disabilities.

During Phase 1B, we are offering the vaccine to our highest risk patients first. If you use a physician of Edward-Elmhurst Medical Groups for your primary or specialty care, rest assured that we have your information regarding your age and any possible risk factors, and we will reach out as soon as we have a vaccine available for you. If you aren’t a patient or have not seen a physician in quite some time, we encourage you to seek out another option for getting vaccinated.

It is likely that giving vaccines to the numbers of people who need one will take some time — probably well into the spring 2021. As the supply of vaccine increases, we will move to subsequent phases.

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

We are committed to vaccinating as many people as we can, as quickly as we can. We have a distribution plan in place and if you are a high-risk patient, we will reach out to you as we obtain vaccine supply. Beginning with patients who are at highest risk, you will receive an order allowing you to schedule a vaccine appointment.

  • If you have a MyChart® account – Watch for an email letting you know that you have a new order in your MyChart. Log in to your MyChart, and you’ll be able to schedule an appointment.

MyChart COVID Vaccine Order

  • If you do not have a MyChart account – Watch for an email asking you to activate your MyChart account. The email will include an activation link so that you can complete this step.

Rest assured, if you are a patient of Edward-Elmhurst Medical Groups, we have your information regarding your age and any possible risk factors, and we will notify you as soon as we have a vaccine available for you. Vaccinating the numbers of people who qualify will take some time. It could take several weeks or longer to hear from us, but please know that we will reach out to you.

Should I call my doctor's office to let them know I want the vaccine?

We recognize and respect that you are anxious to receive a vaccine. We do ask, however, that you avoid calling physician offices with availability questions, as our offices are not coordinating appointments or wait lists. While we are eager to help, the number of incoming telephone calls are becoming difficult for us to manage, and calling your doctor’s office will not help you receive the vaccine any faster. We will reach out to you as soon as we have a vaccine available for you.

Who is considered a patient of Edward-Elmhurst Medical Groups?

Edward-Elmhurst Medical Groups include physicians of the following practices:

  • Edward Medical Group
  • Elmhurst Clinic
  • Elmhurst Medical Associates
  • Elmhurst Memorial Medical Group

If you use a physician from one of these practices for your primary or specialty care, and had a visit in the last three years, you are on the list of patients eligible for a vaccine.

What if I am age 65+, but have never seen a physician with Edward-Elmhurst Medical Groups?

The number of vaccine doses for phase 1B remains limited. Distribution of the vaccine at Edward-Elmhurst Health has begun with patients in our established physician practice who are age 65 and older, as well as other essential workers in our primary service area. If you are over the age of 65, but have never seen one of the physician practices within Edward-Elmhurst Medical Groups, our recommendation is to seek a vaccination from your local health department or a retail pharmacy such as CVS or Walgreens.

Where will I get the vaccine when it's my turn?

We do not yet have enough vaccine supply to deliver vaccinations at your doctor’s office. Vaccines will be given at one of two Edward-Elmhurst Health locations by appointment only:

  • Edward-Elmhurst Health – Downers Grove
    2205 Butterfield Rd
    Downers Grove, IL 60515

  • Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Center – Seven Bridges
    6600 S. Route 53
    Woodridge, IL 60517

If I'm not a patient, how can I get the vaccine?

We are currently vaccinating targeted groups of high-risk patients who are in phase 1B of our vaccine distribution plan. If you aren’t a patient or have not seen a physician in quite some time, we encourage you to seek out another option for getting vaccinated.

In addition to the efforts of Edward-Elmhurst Health, vaccinations may be available through your local pharmacy or health department. As supplies increase, the vaccine will likely become more widely available to the general public later in 2021.

Some county health departments are offering information and surveys to receive weekly updates on vaccine availability:

Pharmacies:

Can I choose which vaccine to get?

Not currently. Which vaccine you receive depends on supply and where you decide to get it. As long as the vaccines remain in short supply, our hospitals are administering whichever vaccine is available to us. Experts recommend getting the vaccine that’s available to you as soon as you're eligible.

Rest assured, measures of the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines seem roughly comparable. Both vaccines were 94-95 percent effective in preventing symptomatic coronavirus infection, and nearly 100 percent effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19. In clinical trials in the U.S., the Janssen (J&J) vaccine was 72% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 and 86% effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19. In clinical trials worldwide, the vaccine was 93% effective in preventing severe disease requiring hospitalization from COVID-19 and 100% in preventing COVID-19 deaths. While direct comparisons can’t be made since the vaccine trials were conducted differently, all three COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death.

On Tuesday, April 13, the FDA and CDC recommended a “pause” in the use of the single-dose Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine out of an “abundance of caution” after six people in the U.S. developed a rare and severe blood clot after receiving the J&J vaccine. All six cases occurred in women ages 18 and 48, with symptoms occurring 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.

What are the phases of COVID-19 vaccine distribution?

The following are phases of our COVID-19 vaccine distribution, guided by the CDC and state and local public health departments and based on risk prioritization and vaccine supply:

Phase 1A

  • Healthcare workers
  • Long-term care facility residents

Phase 1B  

  • Other at-risk essential workers (e.g., police/fire departments, teachers)
  • People age 65+

Phase 1B Plus current phase

  • People age 16-64 with comorbidities and underlying conditions
  • Individuals with disabilities

Phase 1C

  • People missed in Phase 1A, Phase 1B and Phase 1B Plus
  • Other essential workers
  • Other people with certain high-risk health conditions

Phase 2

  • People missed in phase 1
  • Other people with chronic health conditions
  • General public

Phase 3

  • People missed in phases 1 and 2
  • General public

Is there anything I should do to prepare for my vaccine appointment?

  • In order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our patients, providers and staff, we are asking that you come alone to your vaccine appointment. If you need the support of a partner due to limited mobility, cognitive impairment or language barriers, an exception may be made. We are unable to allow children to accompany you. Please arrange for childcare prior to your appointment.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing with a short sleeve in order to allow easy access to your upper arm.
  • You can expect to spend approximately 30 minutes at the vaccination site. Part of this time will be spent making sure you don’t have any medical symptoms.
  • If you begin to experience any symptoms of COVID-19 prior to your vaccination appointment, it is important that you cancel your appointment.
  • Additionally, you should not get a vaccine for COVID-19 if you have or plan to receive another vaccine of any kind within 14 days of the COVID-19 vaccine or if you have received plasma or monoclonal antibodies in the past 90 days. If either of these apply, please cancel your vaccination appointment.
  • You will be asked to complete a vaccine consent form prior to receiving your vaccine. You can fill out your form in advance to save some time. Bring it with you to the appointment.
  • The Janssen (J&J) vaccine requires only one dose, so you will only need one appointment. If you are getting one of the mRNA vaccines, you will be asked to make an appointment for your second dose of vaccine at the time of your first appointment.
    • 21 days later for Pfizer vaccines
    • 28 days later for Moderna vaccines

I’m a frontline worker and my doctor is a part of Edward-Elmhurst Medical Groups. How do I get a vaccine?

If you have a MyChart, you should see a "Confirm Your Occupation" notice on the MyChart home page. You can follow the link to complete an occupation questionnaire. If you don’t see the notice on your home page, go to "Questionnaires" from the MyChart menu and select the "Occupation" questionnaire from the menu. This information will be used to send you an invitation to schedule an appointment as we have vaccine supply. If you do not have a MyChart, call your physician’s office and ask for an activation link.

Is it true there are actually scams related to the COVID-19 vaccine?

Unfortunately, yes. And we have seen evidence of this type of thing in our area. Be aware of any requests asking you to pay in advance or pay out-of-pocket for a vaccine. Edward-Elmhurst Health will not ask for any advance payment. You can go here for more information about vaccine fraud.

Vaccine Q&A

What COVID-19 vaccines been approved?

In December 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines, one manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech (age 16 and up) and another by Moderna (age 18 and up). In February 2021, the FDA issued an EUA for a third COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (ages 18 and up). EUA is an authorization process used by the FDA if there is an emergency and enough evidence that the vaccine will be safe and helpful. Vaccines authorized for EUA still need to meet the FDA's rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and quality. Several other vaccines are also in development.

On Tuesday, April 13, the FDA and CDC recommended a “pause” in the use of the single-dose Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine out of an “abundance of caution” after six people in the U.S. developed a rare and severe blood clot after receiving the J&J vaccine. All six cases occurred in women ages 18 and 48, with symptoms occurring 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The COVID-19 vaccines train the body’s immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

The Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna mRNA 1273 are mRNA vaccines. They contain the portion of mRNA (molecule that carries a genetic code) that sends the body’s cells instructions to make a harmless piece of spike protein, the button on the surface of the SARS-CoV2 virus. It is not a live virus, cannot replicate itself and is quickly destroyed in the cell shortly after translation. Once the spike protein is translated by the mRNA, an immune response is elicited, resulting in the production of antibodies against the spike protein. When the SARS-CoV2 spike protein is bound up by antibodies, it cannot attach to and infect human cells.

The Janssen (J&J) vaccine is a vector vaccine that uses an adenovirus (a type of virus that causes the common cold, not the virus that causes COVID-19) that has been genetically modified to make it harmless, to instruct the body’s cells to make the SARS CoV-2 spike protein. Our immune system recognizes the threat and begins producing antibodies to fight off what it thinks is an infection. This trains the body's immune system to protect against an actual SARS-CoV-2 infection. The virus used in a vector vaccine has been modified so it can’t replicate itself or cause infection.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are authorized after meeting rigorous scientific standards for safety. The vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The first authorized COVID-19 vaccine, an mRNA vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, was studied in more than 40,000 people, to ensure they meet safety standards. The third authorized vaccine, an adenovirus vector vaccine, is held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the U.S. The FDA will continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of authorized vaccines through ongoing clinical trials and vaccination data. On Tuesday, April 13, the FDA and CDC recommended a “pause” in the use of the single-dose Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine out of an “abundance of caution” after six people in the U.S. developed a rare and severe blood clot after receiving the J&J vaccine. All six cases occurred in women ages 18 and 48, with symptoms occurring 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.

Will the vaccine require more than one dose?

For the two mRNA vaccines, yes. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two shots. The interval between shots for the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days and for the Moderna vaccine, it's 28 days.

The first shot starts building protection and the second shot strengthens the immune response. Both doses are necessary in order to ensure the vaccine’s effectiveness. The vaccines are not interchangeable, so individuals should complete the second dose with the same vaccine. The third vaccine, the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, is administered as a single dose, so a second dose is not needed.

What’s the difference between the vaccines?

Currently, three vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen (J&J) are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines. At this point, one mRNA vaccine is not recommended over the other as both show similar efficacy. One difference is in how the vaccines are stored. While both vaccines need to be kept cold, the Moderna vaccine must be stored at a temperature of a regular refrigerator freezer and can be used within 30 days after thawing, while the Pfizer vaccine requires special ultra-cold freezers and must be used with five days after thawing.

The Janssen (J&J) vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine, and can be stored in a refrigerator, instead of a freezer, for up to three months. While direct comparisons can’t be made since the vaccine trials were conducted differently, all three COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. At this point, one vaccine is not recommended over the other. At this point, one vaccine is not recommended over the other.

Will the vaccine cause side effects?

As with other vaccines, it is normal to experience some pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, or low-grade fever following the vaccination, which should go away on their own in a day or two. This does not mean that the vaccine has given you COVID-19. These symptoms are typical reactions to most vaccines and are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do — building up protection to the disease.

Will the vaccine give me the virus?

No. The mRNA vaccines contain a portion of mRNA, but not live virus. After the spike protein is produced, the mRNA is degraded. The adenovirus vector vaccine cannot cause infection with COVID-19 or with the adenovirus used as the vaccine vector, which has been genetically modified to be harmless so it can’t replicate itself or cause illness. A normal immune response to the vaccine can lead to low grade fever or achiness, but this is not harmful. The full benefit of immunity won’t occur until 2 weeks after your second dose (booster dose) of the mRNA vaccines and 14 days after the single-dose vector vaccine. The risk of getting infected from someone who is infectious won’t diminish right away after vaccination.

Are there any contraindications to the vaccine?

According to the CDC, while rare, anaphylactic reactions have been reported following vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Individuals with a history of an immediate allergic reaction (of any severity) to an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components might be at greater risk for anaphylaxis upon re-exposure to either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

These individuals should be evaluated by an allergist-immunologist to determine if they can safely receive the vaccine. Individuals with a history of an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a vaccine or injectable therapy, and individuals with a history of anaphylaxis due to any cause, should be observed for 30 minutes following vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. All other individuals should be observed for 15 minutes. Allergic reactions not related to vaccines, such as food or environmental allergies, are not a contraindication or precaution to vaccination with either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Any individuals with a known history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction (even if it was not severe) to any component of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine (such as polysorbate) should not get the Janssen (J&J) vaccine. On Tuesday, April 13, the FDA and CDC recommended a “pause” in the use of the single-dose Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine out of an “abundance of caution” after six people in the U.S. developed a rare and severe blood clot after receiving the J&J vaccine. All six cases occurred in women ages 18 and 48, with symptoms occurring 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.

I’ve heard that you shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’ve recently had a vaccination of a different type — flu, shingles, etc. Is this true?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you wait at least 14 days before getting any other vaccine, including a flu or shingles vaccine, if you get your COVID-19 vaccine first. And if you get another vaccine first, wait at least 14 days before getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

Should pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine

This is a personal choice that you should make after talking with your doctor. The initial clinical trials for all three COVID-19 vaccines did not include pregnant people, so there's no firm evidence yet on how the vaccine will perform in this group. We do know though that pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and pregnant people with severe COVID-19 may be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth and pregnancy loss.

When should I schedule my screening mammogram and COVID-19 vaccine?

A possible side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine is temporarily swollen lymph nodes on the side where the shot is given, which may show up on a mammogram and result in unnecessary diagnostic follow-up.

If you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, it is recommended that you schedule your screening mammogram before getting your first COVID-19 vaccine dose, or four weeks following your second vaccine dose. This does not apply to mammograms for symptomatic patients or to diagnostic mammograms, which should not be delayed. As always, talk with your healthcare provider about what is best for you. If you’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine and are already scheduled for a screening mammogram, let your technologist know that you were vaccinated and in which arm you got your shot.

Are the current COVID-19 vaccines effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants?

Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally. So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. Specifically, the Janssen (J&J) vaccine is thought to perform well against the variants from Brazil and South Africa, because it was tested in both countries when the variants were already rampant there. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway. Learn more.

How long will it take after I get the vaccine to be protected from COVID-19?

Those who receive the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine will develop maximum immunity several weeks after the second dose. It normally takes about 2 weeks for cellular immunity to develop and several weeks for full antibody development. For the one-dose Janssen (J&J) vaccine, full protection occurs 14 days after vaccination. Review of studies and real world data suggest vaccination also prevents carrying the virus (reduced spreading). We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated, although recent data suggest Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine protection lasts at least 6 months.

Once I’ve had a vaccine, can I stop wearing masks?

No, you should continue to wear a mask after receiving the vaccine. Until you have full immunity, two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose series, or two weeks after one dose of a one-dose series, you are still susceptible. The CDC recommends that everyone continue to wear masks in public. However, CDC guidance allows for some lifting of restrictions when fully immunized individuals are together, or if fully immunized individuals are with others of the same household. It will be several months before the overall risk of exposure is low because so many others have been immunized. Until most of the population is vaccinated, wearing masks, social distancing and handwashing are the only tools we have to stop the spread of COVID-19.

How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19 until I get the vaccine?

The best defense against COVID-19 is to continue following safety precautions. Cover your mouth and nose with a face mask when around others, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay at least 6 feet away from people outside of your household, avoid crowds and wash your hands often and thoroughly. Get more information about steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 here.

What resources are available?

Illinois Department of Public Health website:

County Health Department websites: