The COVID-19 Vaccine

Erie has expanded our COVID-19 vaccine  appointment availability to include all CURRENT Erie patients age 16 and up.

If you meet the requirements, call 312-666-3494, Option 5, to schedule an appointment.

Currently, demand is higher than our vaccine supply. We are grateful for your patience.

The vaccine is the best tool we have to keep people from getting sick and dying from COVID-19, safely spend time with our loved ones, and end this pandemic. 

These things are true about all of the COVID-19 vaccines being used in the United States:

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is completely free and available to everyone - with or without insurance.
  • You don't have to be a U.S. citizen to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • They have been properly tested on thousands of people of all genders, races and ethnicities and have proven to be very safe.
  • Side effects are mild and only last a day or two.

What to Expect During your COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

At this time, Erie has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available for all CURRENT Erie patients age 16* and up. 

*Note, 16- and 17-year-olds need consent from a parent or legal guardian to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Call 312-666-3494, Option 5, to schedule an appointment!

It will take several weeks for Erie to vaccinate all interested patients. Right now the demand for the vaccine is much larger than our supply. We are experiencing a significant increase in phone calls. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to get all Erie patients vaccinated.

I'm worried about getting the vaccine.

We understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated. This is the first time we’ve been faced with a situation like this in our lifetimes. And there have been times throughout history where our government and healthcare system has abused communities of color. All of this can lead to mistrust and concern.

In this moment, we believe that COVID-19 vaccination is the best tool to help stop the pandemic, keep people from getting sick and dying, allow us to spend time with our loved ones again, re-open schools and businesses, and go back to our normal way of life. Getting vaccinated yourself protects people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Once you and your friends and loved ones are vaccinated and the rate of COVID in the community have decreased, it will be possible for you to finally spend time with them again without fear or risk of spreading the virus.

This seems too fast. How was a vaccine developed so quickly?

The COVID-19 vaccine development process included all the usual safety steps – none were skipped. The process was quicker than we’re used to for a few main reasons:

  • Scientists and public health experts around the entire world focused their efforts on the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. This has not happened in our lifetimes!
  • Companies produced millions of vaccine doses at the same time as the clinical trials were happening – this way, we would not need to wait to actually make the vaccines at the end of the safety tests.
  • Scientists didn’t have to start from scratch. They used what they learned from previous coronavirus outbreaks like SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012 to help figure out the science behind how the COVID vaccine works.
How well does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

All three vaccines available now are very effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19, hospitalizations and death. Data from clinical trials shows that Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines were 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection. The Johnson & Johnson, one-dose, vaccine is 86% effective at preventing severe illness or death from COVID-19. The vaccines were effective for everyone 18 years of age and over, and all genders, races and ethnicities. This is very good news!

Will I need more than one shot?

It depends on which brand of vaccine you get. Both the vaccine created by Pfizer and the vaccine created by Moderna require two doses.  After you receive the first dose, you will need to come back to Erie at least 21 days later to receive the second dose. While you might receive some protection after the first dose, neither vaccine is fully effective until one or two weeks after the second dose. 

The vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose. It is fully effective two weeks after you receive it. 

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Almost 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given out across the United States without reports of serious side effects. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and FDA will continue to closely study the results of all vaccine trials before approving any vaccine for use.

Note, as of April 13, 2021, the FDA and CDC have temporarily paused the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while scientists investigate extremely rare reports of blood clots in six people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Erie will provide updates as new information is available.

10% of the Pfizer vaccine trial participants were Black, 26% were Hispanic/Latinx and 5% were Asian. 10% of the Moderna vaccine trial participants were Black and 20% were Hispanic/Latinx.

Which vaccine is the best?

The best vaccine is the one you are offered first. It is very important for all of us to get vaccinated as soon as possible. All three vaccines available to us now are very effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19, hospitalization and death. 

4.13.21 What's going on with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

On April 13, 2021, the FDA announced that it is looking into a very rare side effect of the Johnson & Johnson, one-dose vaccine. Out of an abundance of caution, Erie is following their recommendation to pause using that vaccine until they are able to study it further.

The FDA is studying six cases of a rare blood clot in people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This is considered extremely rare in comparison to the nearly 7 million doses of Johnson & Johnson that have been given to people so far. At this time, there is no need to panic. We will wait for the FDA to make a final decision on the vaccine. In the meantime, Erie will continue to give patients the vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer. 

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the past month and develop any new symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain or swelling in one leg, please give Erie a call at 312-666-3494. 

What side effects might the vaccine cause?

The most common side effects reported by people who received the COVID-19 vaccine so far are:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Pain or swelling at the site of the injection (upper arm)

Most people report that the side effects are more noticeable after the second dose (if it is a two-dose vaccine). Any side effects typically go away after a day or two.

When will I be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Erie now has vaccine appointments available for all CURRENT Erie patients age 16 and up. Please note that 16- and 17-year-olds must have consent from a parent or legal guardian in order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

It will take several weeks for Erie to vaccinate all interested patients. Right now the demand for the vaccine is much larger than our supply. We are experiencing a significant increase in phone calls. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to get all Erie patients vaccinated.

Can't I just skip the vaccine and wait until enough other people are immune?

COVID-19 can be serious, and even deadly, and there is no way to know how the virus will affect you. And even if you catch the virus and don’t get very sick, you could still spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you. COVID-19 has proven to have much more serious symptoms than the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is by far the safer bet.  Public health experts say that it would be well after 2021 for enough people in the US to become naturally immune to COVID-19, and that without a vaccine, hundreds of thousands more people will die.

I have allergies. Should I still get the vaccine?

The only people who cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine are people with a history of severe allergies to its ingredients. Anyone with a history of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) can still receive the vaccine but will be monitored for 15 minutes longer after vaccination to ensure they are safe. People with mild to moderate allergies to food, the environment or medications are still highly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have further questions, talk to your healthcare provider.

Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Please call your healthcare provider to talk about what is best for you.

I heard the vaccine can cause infertility. Is this true?

There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems.  If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to get the vaccine?

Yes, you should. After you have recovered from COVID-19, scientists do not yet know how long you are immune from catching COVID-19 again. The vaccine will be your best protection.

If I get the vaccine can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing?

Even if you get vaccinated, we will all need to continue wearing a mask and social distancing for a while. We know that the vaccine protects you from getting sick from the virus that causes COVID-19, but we don’t yet know if it prevents you from spreading the virus. As more and more people get vaccinated, other safety measure may be able to be dialed back.

Will you have to be a US citizen to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Erie?

No. Erie provides all of our care, including the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available, regardless of a person’s immigration status.

What will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone, with or without insurance.

How can I find out when Erie has a vaccine available for me?

Please check our website often! We will update it as we learn more about when vaccines will be available for our patients. Please also make sure Erie has your current email address. We use email to provide updates about vaccine availability and other important services.

But please know: If you have the opportunity to get the vaccine from somewhere else – like a hospital, other healthcare provider, or your employer – before you hear from Erie, take it! We want our patients to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are able to.  

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