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.
As we move to Phase 1B, we will begin 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 and can begin to vaccinate anyone age 64 and under.
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 over age 65, 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.
- 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.
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.
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:
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). 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.
Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. The COVID-19 vaccine helps your body develop proteins called antibodies that make you less susceptible to the disease.
The Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna mRNA 1273 are mRNA vaccines. They contain the portion of mRNA that encodes the 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 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.
Yes, COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are authorized after meeting rigorous scientific standards for safety. The first authorized COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, was studied in more than 40,000 people, to ensure they meet safety standards. The FDA will continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of authorized vaccines through ongoing clinical trials and vaccination data.
For the most recently available 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.
Currently, two vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19. At this point, one COVID-19 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.
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.
No. The vaccines contain a portion of mRNA, but not live virus. After the spike protein is produced, the mRNA is degraded. A normal immune response can lead to low grade fever or achiness, but this is not harmful. The full benefit of immunity won’t occur until a couple weeks after your second dose (booster dose). The risk of getting infected from someone who is infectious won’t diminish right away after vaccination.
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.
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.
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.
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. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway. Learn more.
Those who receive the two-dose vaccine will develop maximum immunity several weeks after the second dose. It normally takes about 2-3 weeks for cellular immunity to develop and several weeks for full antibody development.
No, you should continue to wear a mask after receiving the vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were around 95% effective in trials for preventing symptomatic and severe COVID-19. We don’t, however, know the vaccine’s effect on asymptomatic infection or transmission of the virus. 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, distancing and handwashing are the only tools we have to stop the spread of COVID-19.
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.
Illinois Department of Public Health website:
County Health Department websites: