Disclaimer: At UPMC HealthBeat, we strive to provide the most up-to-date facts in our stories when we publish them. We also make updates to our content as information changes. However, education about COVID-19 can shift quickly based on new data, emerging variants, or other factors. The information in this story was accurate as of its publish date. We also encourage you to visit other reliable websites for updated information, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and your state and local governments. 

UPMC is working through the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to our communities. To date, we have delivered hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses.

We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health on distribution.

As of June 2022, all Americans 6 months old and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.

UPMC has set up a registration for eligible people to receive the vaccine from UPMC. To schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine from UPMC, you can visit our vaccine website. You also can call 844-876-2822 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Children 6 months old and older are eligible for vaccination. If your child is an existing Children’s Community Pediatrics patient and you wish to schedule an appointment for them to get the COVID-19 vaccine, you can schedule an appointment online or by calling a CCP location near you.

What Is the Status of the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized or approved four COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech.
  • Moderna.
  • Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J).
  • Novavax.

Americans 6 months and older are eligible for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The Moderna and J&J vaccines are authorized only for Americans 18 and older.

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How Will COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Work?

The Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax vaccines require two doses, distributed weeks apart. The J&J vaccine is a single-dose vaccine.

The CDC estimates between 70% and 90% of the U.S. population would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to reach herd immunity.

Immunity to COVID-19 wanes over time, even after vaccination. Because of that, many Americans are eligible for additional doses or boosters of the vaccine. For more information, see the CDC website.

When Will the Vaccine Be Available to the Public?

All Americans 6 months old and older are eligible for vaccination. For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website.

UPMC has set up a registration for eligible Pennsylvanians to schedule a vaccine appointment with UPMC. To schedule your appointment, visit Vaccine.UPMC.com or call 844-876-2822 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

UPMC is committed to providing vaccination in communities that have been severely affected by the pandemic and where there is limited access to medical care. We also are focused on providing vaccinations to communities with limited access to technology like smartphones or computers.

We will follow guidelines from the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Please check back for more information.

How Will Vaccine Distribution Work at UPMC?

UPMC is working with federal and state officials on when, how, and to whom vaccines will be distributed.

To date, we have distributed hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses in our communities. We look forward to continuing our vaccination efforts in the coming months.

“Our annual flu vaccination efforts have helped us put the infrastructure in place for mass vaccination events,” says Graham Snyder, MD, medical director, Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology.

“We are used to navigating the varying transportation and storage requirements, handling protocols, and distribution plans that come along with all types of vaccines.”

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?

Vaccines go through extensive clinical trials to determine safety and effectiveness.

All authorized COVID-19 vaccines showed great promise in the clinical trials. All four exceeded FDA requirements for safety and effectiveness before receiving EUA.

“All of the information we have is that these vaccines are safe, that they work even better than we thought they would, and that they will be the thing that frees us from the COVID epidemic in the end,” says Andrew Nowalk, MD, clinical director, Infectious Diseases, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

On April 23, 2021, the CDC and FDA lifted a temporary pause on the nationwide distribution of the J&J vaccine. Federal health officials paused the distribution out of caution on April 13 as they investigated reports of people who developed rare, serious blood clots after receiving the J&J vaccine.

After their investigation, the CDC and FDA determined the risk of blood clots from the J&J vaccine is extremely low. The vaccine’s benefits in preventing COVID-19 are extremely high, outweighing the risks in people 18 and older. The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.

“Most people, regardless of the vaccine they receive, should not expect severe side effects like this,” says Donald Yealy, MD, chief medical officer, UPMC. “It’s exceptionally rare.”

The CDC is monitoring reports of the heart conditions myocarditis and pericarditis in people who received the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, especially adolescents and young adults.

According to the CDC, the reported cases were rare and happened mostly in male adolescents and young adults 16 and older. Symptoms usually presented within days of vaccination, and patients typically responded well to rest and medications.

The CDC continues to recommend vaccination for Americans 6 months and older.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, Two Vaccines Might Get Emergency Approval This Month. Here's What You Need to Know. Link

Lena H. Sun and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Washington Post, Health Care workers and Nursing Home Residents Should Be the First to Get Coronavirus Vaccines, CDC Advisory Group Says. Link

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.