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COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters

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Immunocompromised people can now receive a COVID-19 booster. Check to see if you're eligible and book your appointment.

The Coronavirus Vaccine

Protect yourself, your family, and your community by getting your Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. If we all do our part to get vaccinated, we can slow the spread of Coronavirus and its variants.

At AHN, we’re doing all we can to get shots into the arms of those who need them. With multiple locations and walk-in clinics, scheduling your very first shot  of the COVID-19 vaccine — or getting your booster — is simple and easy.

What you need to know about boosters

Right now, COVID-19 vaccine boosters are available and recommended for immunocompromised people — folks who have received an organ transplant, are undergoing cancer treatment, or have another condition that weakens their immune systems.

Vaccine and Booster Appointments

Whether you need to schedule your very first vaccine appointment or receive your booster, AHN is here to help.

coronavirus vaccine vials

Have questions about the vaccine? We have answers.

Take a look at common FAQs surrounding the Coronavirus vaccine. Check back often as information is changing regularly.

Vaccine Boosters

Getting Vaccinated

Vaccine Safety

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Update 

About the Coronavirus Vaccine

Vaccine Boosters

I heard there are now booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccine. Is that true?

Yes, that’s true. The FDA recently authorized the administration of a third booster shot of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised people. To provide better protection against COVID-19 and its variants, the CDC recommends that vulnerable individuals get this booster as soon as they can.

What is a booster shot?

A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine. In this case, it’s a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Boosters are given when the initial protection of a vaccine series begins to weaken.

What does it mean to be immunocompromised? How do I know if I qualify?

Immunocompromised people are typically those who have received an organ transplant or have another condition that weakens their immune systems. In particular, most immunocompromised folks fall into one of these specific categories:

  • Active treatment for cancer
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Receipt of CAR T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within two years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge, Wiskott-Aldrich syndromes)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, TNF blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory

If you think you qualify, chat with your health care team about when you should receive your booster.

Should my booster be from the same manufacturer as my original vaccine series?

Yes. It is recommended but not required, that the booster shot be the same vaccine as your original COVID-19 series.

How long should I wait to receive my booster after my second dose?

You should receive your booster at least 28 days after your second dose from your original vaccine series.

Should children over 12 who are immunocompromised get the booster?

Yes, they should be eligible to receive the booster. Chat with the child’s care team before scheduling.

I got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and am immunocompromised. Can I get a booster?

Currently, there isn’t data to support the use of a booster to immunocompromised people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA and CDC are looking into this further to ensure that our vulnerable populations have the protection they need.

Where can I get my booster?

AHN is working around-the-clock to ramp up booster distribution and get a third shot into the arms of those who need them. While scheduling isn’t yet available, it will be very soon.

Getting Vaccinated

Find your reason. Get your shot.

When and where can I get the Coronavirus vaccine?

The rollout and distribution of the vaccine is 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 vaccine rollout plan.

Once you're eligible, you can get your COVID-19 vaccine free of charge at a convenient location — like an AHN facility or a local retail pharmacy.

If you'd like to schedule with AHN, use our online scheduling tool or call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677.

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

Yes, when you qualify to get the vaccine, you will need to schedule an appointment. To book with AHN, use our online scheduling tool or call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677. You may also reach out to local pharmacies or other providers to schedule.

How do I get onto the AHN vaccine wait list?

We do not have a wait list. However, we do use MyChart to alert patients when they're eligible.

If you already have a MyChart account, you’re all set – no other steps are necessary. If you’re a current AHN patient and do not have a MyChart account, register for one now and we'll alert you when you're eligible.

How much will a Coronavirus vaccine cost?

The vaccine is free to all Americans.

If the vaccine is free, why are you asking for my insurance information?

The vaccine itself is paid for through funding authorized by the CARES Act. However, the administration of the vaccine by a health care provider is paid for by your insurance carrier.

Providers are prohibited, by agreement with the U.S. Government, from billing patients for the vaccine or its administration, including balance billing.

What if I do not have insurance?

The vaccine is still free of charge. Providers are prohibited, by agreement with the U.S. Government, from billing patients for the vaccine or its administration, including balance billing.

Will I need my doctor to prescribe the vaccine for me?

No, a perscription or doctor order isn't necessary to receive the vaccine.

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.

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 can work toward developing “herd immunity.” This occurs when roughly 70% of the population has received the vaccine or been exposed to 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 particular 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

Dr. Imran Qadeer talks about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine

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.

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.

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?

We recommend you discuss your options with your OB-GYN.

Should my kids get vaccinated?       

As of May 10, 2021, the FDA has amended the emergency use authorization for Pfizer- BioNTech to include kids 12-15 years old. In line with the latest news from the CDC, FDA and Pennsylvania Department of Health, Allegheny Health Network’s Pediatric Institute strongly recommends that families get their eligible children the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at their first opportunity. Read More This is the only manufacturer at this time who has received this amendment. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still only authorized for 18 and older. The vaccine is not yet approved for infants and young children.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Update 

Is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being used again?

Yes. On April 23, 2021, the CDC and FDA recommended that the pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine be lifted, and distribution of the vaccine be resumed.

Why was the pause lifted?

After a thorough safety review, the FDA and CDC have confidence that this version of the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and that the benefits far outweigh any potential risks.

Read more on the safety assessment here.

Why was distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine paused?

On April 13, 2021, the CDC and FDA recommended that administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine be paused.

This halt was done out of an abundance of caution after six female recipients, between age 18 and 48, developed a rare blood clot disorder — known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis — within about two weeks of vaccination.

Nearly 7 million people in the U.S. have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and this blood clot disorder appears to be extremely rare.

I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, what should I do?

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develop severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, contact your health care provider or seek immediate medical attention. Do not delay receiving care if you have any of these symptoms

What other steps is AHN taking in regard to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

  • We have followed the recommendation of the CDC, FDA, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health and resumed distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 
  • To date, AHN hasn’t received any reports of this rare blood clotting condition from folks who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at our clinics.
  • We’ll continue to also administer the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, neither of which have raised any safety concerns.
  • As always, we’ll continue to update our patients and those we’ve vaccinated as additional information becomes available.

About the COVID-19 Vaccine 

Dr. Stephanie Miller explains the basics of COVID-19 and the vaccine

Who manufactures the Coronavirus vaccine?

There are currently three manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. To learn more about each vaccine, how it's made and efficacy rates, take a look at this helpful resource from the CDC.

Isn’t this a new type of vaccine?

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's vaccines are a new generation of vaccine called mRNA. Learn exactly what that means here.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, and you can read about how that works here.

How are the vaccines administered?

To be effective, Pfizer-BioNTech'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.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine. It is administered once.

Can I choose which Coronavirus vaccine I receive?

Most likely, no. In most cases, a hospital or pharmacy will receive either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna version of the vaccine. Most Johnson & Johnson vaccines are being distributed at one-day clinics. Just remember, all of the vaccines are extremely effective and will provide you with ample protection from Coronavirus.

Coronavirus vaccine availability and appointments

AHN offers vaccine and booster appointments at multiple locations throughout the community. We are prepared to vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as we can.