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Coronavirus Vaccine

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Things are moving very quickly with the vaccine, and information seems to be changing daily. For updates on vaccine eligibility and answers on safety, take a look at our FAQ page.

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The Coronavirus Vaccine

We understand the extremely high demand for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. AHN is doing our absolute best to get vaccines to eligible groups as quickly as we can.

Currently, Coronavirus vaccine supply is limited throughout the country. Pennsylvania receives only a portion of that supply, which is then distributed to health care systems — like AHN — across the state. 

Unfortunately, while there are many groups now eligible for the vaccine, there is simply not enough supply to go around at this time. AHN will administer vaccines to our most vulnerable populations and continue beyond those groups as supply becomes available to us.

As manufacturing and distribution ramps up, know that AHN is fully prepared to vaccinate as many people as we can, as fast as we can. We have the staff, supplies, and infrastructure in place to take care of our patients — we’re ready to go as soon as vaccines hit our doorstep. 

As we know more, we’ll update this page and do our best to clearly communicate with you. 

What you can do now

Sign up for vaccine updates

With MyChart, we’ll alert you when you’re eligible for the vaccine and when you can schedule. Register for an account now. If you already have a MyChart account, then you’re all set.

At this time, supply is limited throughout the state. We don’t recommend calling AHN, your local doctor’s office, or a local pharmacy to ask about appointments. Signing up for MyChart is the best action you can take at this time.

Do I meet AHN’s current criteria?

While you may be eligible for the vaccine, AHN is working through our current supply and taking care of the most vulnerable groups first. If you meet our current criteria, you’ll be taken to the online scheduler. 

CHECK FOR APPOINTMENTS

Have questions about the vaccine? We have answers.

Take a look at common FAQS surrounding the coronavirus vaccine. Check back often as thing are changing daily.

Getting Vaccinated

Vaccine Safety

About the Coronavirus Vaccine

Getting Vaccinated

I heard a Coronavirus vaccine is available — when can I get it?

You are correct. A COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the United States. The rollout and distribution will be determined by each individual state and the CDC has set guidelines to help with those decisions.

The Pennsylvania rollout plan changes according to the state’s Department of Health recommendations. Take a look at PA’s current distribution approach.

While you may find that you’re currently eligible for the vaccine, please keep in mind that there is a shortage of vaccine supply throughout the country. AHN is continuing to vaccinate our most vulnerable groups first, and as more supply comes in, additional vaccine appointments will open up. We know this is frustrating, but all heath care networks are currently facing this shortage.

According to PA guidelines, I’m eligible for the vaccine. Why can’t I schedule my vaccine appointment on ahn.org or MyChart right now?

We unfortunately don’t have enough vaccine supply for the number of patients who are currently eligible for the vaccine. As a reminder, AHN is only given a certain amount through the state. We’re vaccinating our most vulnerable groups first, and will be adding additional appointments as supply comes in.

Vaccine Appointments

If you meet our current criteria, you’ll be taken to the online scheduler.

How can I get a vaccine once it is available to me?

Once the vaccine is available to you as determined by your state, and there is sufficient supply, you can get your COVID-19 vaccine free of charge at a convenient location – like select AHN sites or a local retail pharmacy.

If you’re a current AHN patient, sign up for MyChart and we’ll electronically alert you when you’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. To sign up, visit mychart.ahn.org. You’ll also be able to easily schedule your vaccine appointment in a few simple clicks.

If you already have a MyChart account, you’re all set — no other steps are necessary.

The timeline for distribution seems unclear. How long do I have to wait?

You’re right. It is a bit unclear because we’re facing so many unknowns right now. Realistically, it may take up to a full year for the majority of people to receive a vaccine.

Currently, supply of the vaccine is limited across the country. Each state only receives a certain amount, which is then distributed to health care systems. We know this is frustrating, but AHN is fully prepared to vaccinate when supply reaches us. 

In the meantime, sign up for MyChart to receive alerts on your eligibility and online vaccine appointment scheduling.

When it’s my turn to receive the vaccine, do I need an appointment?

Yes, when you qualify to get the vaccine, and supply is available, you will need to schedule an appointment through MyChart or AHN’s online scheduling tool. You may also reach out to local pharmacies or other providers to schedule.

Will my doctor need to place an order so I can receive the vaccine?

No doctor order is necessary.

What should I do until I receive the vaccine?

It’s key that you continue following safety guidelines: wear a face mask that covers your mouth and nose, social distance, and wash your hands frequently.

If you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for MyChart to receive alerts on your eligibility and online vaccine appointment scheduling. Since supply is limited, we don’t recommend calling AHN, your local doctor’s office, or a local pharmacy to ask about appointments. Signing up for MyChart is the best action you can take at this time.

How much will a Coronavirus vaccine cost?

The vaccine is free to all Americans.

Why should I get the Coronavirus vaccine?

Coronavirus is a serious, life-threatening virus. It has infected millions of people worldwide and continues to pose a threat to our livelihood. Vaccinating is the safest, most effective way to build protection against this virus. If everyone makes an effort to vaccinate, we will develop “herd immunity,” meaning roughly 70% of the population can fend off the virus. Ultimately, this will slow the spread.

If we all do our part and receive a vaccine when it’s available to us, we can work together to eradicate Coronavirus. Learn more about vaccine safety from the CDC

Am I really helping my community by getting the vaccine?

Absolutely. Getting vaccinated isn’t only about you — it’s about your family, friends, and community. Some people cannot be vaccinated because of various diseases or severe allergies. By receiving a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you, you’re doing your part to keep our society safe and healthy. 

After I am vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing?

Yes, continue to follow recommended safety practices — wear a mask, social distance, and frequently wash your hands. The vaccine is being distributed in groups. Until the entire community has the opportunity to receive it, we must continue to do our part to slow the spread.

If I have Coronavirus antibodies, do I still need to receive the vaccine?

Yes, the vaccine is still recommended. Many antibody tests are not specific enough to guarantee that you actually had Coronavirus. 

I had Coronavirus. Do I still need to receive the vaccine?         

Yes, the vaccine is still recommended. The immunity gained from the vaccine may be longer-lasting than natural immunity from the infection

I already received my flu shot. Do I need the Coronavirus vaccine?

Yes. The flu shot is a great way to protect yourself from the seasonal flu. However, it will not protect you from Coronavirus.  

Do I have to receive the Coronavirus vaccine?

While COVID-19 vaccination is not mandated, AHN strongly encourages both our employees and our patients to receive the vaccine. Getting the vaccine as soon as it’s available to you is critical to protecting yourself, your loved ones, and the community. You can help bring an end to the pandemic. 

Vaccine Safety

When it’s available to me, should I get the vaccine? Is it safe?

Absolutely. The vaccine has gone through rigorous testing, received FDA approval, and been approved by several other countries worldwide.

No different than someone receiving a chickenpox or measles vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine will help to eradicate Coronavirus from our population and keep everyone as safe as possible. 

I heard the Coronavirus vaccine received emergency use approval. What does that mean?

That’s correct. The FDA gave the vaccine what’s called Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). With millions of Coronavirus cases in the United States alone, EUA was given to make the vaccine available as quickly as possible.

EUA does not mean that safety was compromised or that the vaccine somehow skipped deep analysis and testing. It simply means that this vaccine was prioritized above all others and that multiple steps worked in parallel together. It was a collaborative, all-in effort by the FDA to address this public health crisis and keep our communities safe.

Isn’t this a new type of vaccine? How does it work?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine is a new generation of vaccine called mRNA. Traditionally, vaccines involve injecting an inactive strand of a virus into our bodies, triggering an immune response, and preparing our bodies for when the “real” virus comes.

An mRNA vaccine also triggers an immune response. However, it is done through a genetic strand. This strand provides the body with Coronavirus “RNA instructions,” which ultimately trigger an immune response and allow our bodies to fight off the virus.

Clinical trials from top pharmaceutical manufacturers are seeing over a 90% effective rate using this new approach.

What are the side effects of the vaccine? 

Vaccine trial participants noted mild to moderate side effects — like soreness at the injection site, feeling lethargic, chills, fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain. While some of those side effects may seem extreme, it’s actually quite encouraging. It means that your body has a strong immune response to the vaccine.

Some people have also experienced allergic reactions. If you have a history
of allergies, speak with your doctor first.

Can I become infected with Coronavirus as a result of the vaccine?

No, you cannot get Coronavirus from the COVID-19 vaccine. It does not contain the virus. It is an mRNA vaccine.

Keep in mind, no vaccine is 100% effective. However, your chances of contracting Coronavirus, or developing severe symptoms if you do, drastically decrease after receiving the vaccine.

I’m pregnant, should I get the vaccine?

Call your OB-GYN to discuss your options. If you’re a pregnant health care worker, and cannot be moved to non-patient facing activities, we recommend you consider the vaccine. 

Should my kids get vaccinated?       

While many of the vaccine trials included some older children and teens, the vaccine is not yet approved for infants and children. The vaccine will likely be approved for children at the end of 2021. 

About the COVID-19 Vaccine 

I heard the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved. Are there others?

You are correct. As of December 2020, the FDA granted emergency approval of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Both companies are currently distributing millions of initial doses and will continue manufacturing more. 

There the are several other pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines, but none have applied for FDA approval at this time. Visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more.

How effective are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are over 90% effective. That means they will prevent over 90% of people from developing symptomatic Coronavirus. If you receive the vaccine and are in the small percentage of people who still contract Coronavirus, it will minimize the severity of your symptoms.

To better understand that number, the FDA set a bar that the vaccine must be at least 50% effective to be considered for authorization. Both companies’ vaccines are far surpassing that.

For further perspective, annual flu vaccines are 40-60% effective, whereas the two doses of the measles vaccine are 97% effective.

How do the vaccines work?

To be effective, Pfizer’s vaccine will be given in two separate doses, 21 days apart, with a two-day leeway on either end. That means you need to receive your second dose between 19 and 23 days after your first.

The Moderna vaccine is similar. It will be given in two separate doses, in this case, 28 days apart. When the vaccine is available to you, it’s important you take the time to get both doses.

Learn more about Pfizer’s vaccine and track record and take a look at Moderna’s approach.

Can I choose which Coronavirus vaccine I receive?

Most likely, no. In most cases, a hospital or pharmacy will receive either the Pfizer or Moderna version of the vaccine. Just remember, both are extremely effective and will provide you with ample protection from Coronavirus.

Coronavirus vaccine availability and appointments

While many groups may be eligible for the vaccine, supply is very limited across the country. AHN will continue vaccinating our most vulnerable populations first and go beyond those groups as supply becomes available to us.

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