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Content Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

Getting the COVID Vaccine in Pennsylvania

More than 60 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Pennsylvanians age 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated.

Use this guide to find out how to get a vaccine. If you have questions about the vaccination process in Pennsylvania, please call the Pennsylvania Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.

Why Vaccines?

Vaccines are safe and are the best way to protect yourself and those around you from serious illnesses.

The COVID-19 vaccine can keep you from getting COVID-19, and is supposed to lessen symptoms if you do contract the virus.

COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.

Learn more about how the government is ensuring the safety of vaccines.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

All Pennsylvania adults are eligible to be vaccinated. Adolescents ages 12-15 can received the Pfizer vaccine.

STEP 1: FIND A VACCINE PROVIDER

Vaccine providers include hospitals, urgent care centers, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies. Providers have to be registered to receive the vaccine — so make sure your chosen provider is listed before continuing to Step 3.

PHILLY RESIDENTS: The city has its own vaccination plan. Go here for vaccine information and to find a vaccine near you.

Veterans, their spouses, and caregivers are eligible to receive vaccine through Veterans Affairs. Visit the VA website for more information.

STEP 2: CONTACT A PROVIDER TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

Contact the vaccine provider of your choice directly from the map above to schedule an appointment for your vaccine.

When you get the vaccine, you and the person administering the vaccine will both need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth.

You will receive a vaccination card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it. The card also will remind you to return for a second dose if needed.

Learn more about how to prepare for your vaccine.

STEP 3: BE SURE TO GET FOLLOW-UP DOSES

The Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines are administered in two doses. You will have to return to your vaccination provider to get the second dose of the vaccine before you are done being vaccinated.

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are fully protected after one dose.

Vaccine Boosters

A vaccine booster shot can now be scheduled for immunocompromised individuals and older adults. Follow the information in Step 2 to find a provider near you.

Boosters will soon be made available for all other Pennsylvanians. Check back here for updates.

Request A Replacement Vaccine Card

Did you lose or misplace your COVID-19 vaccine card? Get a replacement from the Department of Health one of two ways:

  1. ONLINE: Request your immunization record.
  2. BY MAIL OR EMAIL: Fill out this form and mail or email it in.

You will need to upload or send in a copy of your photo ID to access your records. Learn more.

Vaccine Safety

Authorized COVID-19 Vaccines

Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
    • • Recommended for people aged 16 years and older.
    • • 2 shots given 21 days apart.
    • • Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection.
  • Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine
    • • Recommended for people aged 18 years and older.
    • • 2 shots given 28 days apart.
    • • Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected.
  • Janssen’s Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine
    • • Recommended for people aged 18 years and older.
    • • 1 shot
    • • Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Janssen’s Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine vaccine was 66.3% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness ≥14 days after vaccination and 65.5% (95% CI = 57.2%–72.4%) ≥28 days after vaccination.

Vaccines in Phase 3 Clinical Trials

Phase 3 clinical trials are in progress or being planned for three additional COVID-19 vaccines in the United States:

  • • AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine
  • • Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine

Side Effects

Side effects usually start within a day or two of getting the vaccine. They should go away in a few days. The most common side effects include:

At injection site:

  • • Pain
  • • Swelling
  • • Redness

Throughout body:

  • • Chills
  • • Tiredness
  • • Headache
  • • Difficulty breathing
  • • Swelling of your face and throat
  • • A fast heartbeat
  • • A bad rash all over your body
  • • Dizziness and weakness

Vaccine Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines which have been shown to be safe and effective.

Emergency Use Authorizations

Vaccine Safety Monitoring

After a vaccine is authorized for use, many vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for possible side effects. This monitoring can pick up on adverse events that may not have been seen in clinical trials. If an unexpected adverse event is seen, experts study it further to assess whether it is a true safety concern. Experts then decide whether changes are needed in U.S. vaccine recommendations. This monitoring is critical to help ensure that the benefits continue to outweigh the risks for people who receive vaccines.

V-safe

CDC has a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines called V-safe. V-safe uses text messaging and web surveys from CDC to check in with vaccine recipients following COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe also provides second vaccine dose reminders if needed, and telephone follow up to anyone who reports medically significant adverse events.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety from the CDC.

Before Your Vaccine

While you’re waiting to receive your COVID-19 vaccine, and even after you receive your vaccine, it’s important to continue to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds and wash your hands often.

Before You Get Vaccinated

  • • Talk with your health care provider to see if vaccination is right for you.
  • • Check if COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for you right now and make an appointment to get vaccinated.
  • • Stay home as much as possible to avoid exposure to COVID-19.
  • • Wear a mask, social distance, avoid gatherings and crowds, and wash your hands often.
  • • Learn more about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • • Learn more about the benefits of getting COVID-19 vaccination.

At Your Vaccination Appointment

  • • When you get the vaccine, you and the person administering the vaccine will both need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth.
  • • You will receive a vaccination card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it and where you received it. You should also receive a card to remind you to return for a second dose.
  • • You’ll receive a fact sheet that contains information to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine you are being offered.
  • • You’ll be monitored on site after you receive your vaccination to watch for any reaction to the vaccine.

After You Receive a Vaccination

  • • With most COVID-19 vaccines, you’ll need two shots in order for them to work. Get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first one, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get a second shot.
  • • Register for v-safe, a free, smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe also reminds you to get your second dose if you need one. Learn more about v-safe.
  • • Learn about common side effects and get helpful tips on how to reduce your pain and discomfort after vaccination.
  • • Remember to get your second shot!
Pennsylvania’s Plan

Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan follows the blueprint set forth by the CDC. This is an interim plan which is being continuously updated to reflect the latest guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and other guidance available and feedback received.

Getting Pennsylvanians immunized with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is an essential step in reducing the number of Sars-CoV-2 virus-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The Department’s goals are to prioritize persons, while the vaccine supply remains limited, who receive the vaccine to maximize benefits and minimize harms caused by the virus, promote justice, mitigate health inequities, and promote transparency.

View Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan.

Department of Health Vaccine FAQ

With supplies limited, the state of Pennsylvania will distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in phases.

Currently, we’re in Phase 1A. Vaccines have started to be administered to those most at-risk of illness. This group includes health care workers and Pa. residents living in long-term care facilities, people who are 65 and older, and those who are 16 – 64 with high-risk conditions. Click below to see a comprehensive list of state residents included in each phase.

Why should I get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like wearing masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) recommendations to protect yourself and othersOpens In A New Window will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

Will the vaccine be mandatory?
No, the department does not have any plans to make the vaccine mandatory.
Is natural immunity from the COVID-19 disease better than immunity from the vaccine?

Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. But experts don’t know how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.

Both natural immunity and immunity produced by a vaccine are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Does PA have plans to join a joint group to review vaccine safety?

No. Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine and Governor Tom Wolf are confident in the CDC, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) review processes and that they will be safe and effective.

Can you get the COVID-19 vaccine outside of your home state?

Yes, you can get the vaccine outside of your home state.

Is PA considering any scenarios where the vaccine would be mandated (e.g. working in congregate settings)?

We have no plans to make the vaccine mandatory.

How many vaccines might be multi-shot or single-shot vaccinations?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which has received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA, is a two-dose vaccine.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has also received an EUA from the FDA and is a two-dose vaccine.

There are four U.S. COVID-19 vaccines in production right now from the following drug manufacturers:

  • • AstraZeneca;
  • • Inovio;
  • • Novavax; and
  • • Johnson & Johnson.

Three of the four additional vaccines in production through are also two-dose vaccines.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine.

How many trials were completed and how successful were they? What side effects came out of the trials?

Currently, clinical trials are evaluating investigational COVID-19 vaccines in many thousands of study participants to generate scientific data and other information for the FDA to determine their safety and effectiveness. These clinical trials are being conducted according to the rigorous standards set forth by FDA in their June 2020 guidance document, Development and Licensure of Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19. If FDA determines that a vaccine meets its safety and effectiveness standards, it can make these vaccines available for use in the United States by approval or emergency use authorization.

Can my kids get the COVID-19 vaccine

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children age 12 and older. The Moderna COVID-19 and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines are not yet approved for children under the age of 18.

Where and when can I get it?

Many pharmacies, health centers, doctor’s offices, urgent care centers, and mass vaccination clinics are vaccine providers. View Step 2 in the Getting the vaccine in Pennsylvania tab above to search providers.

I have a condition that may make me more at risk of COVID-19. Does that mean I am automatically in Phase 1A?

The Pennsylvania Department of Health continues to align with the CDC’s list of medical conditions that place someone at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. At this time, those with medical conditions who CDC indicates might be at an increased risk are not defined into a particular phase of Pennsylvania’s Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. We will continue to review the information from the CDC as we move forward.

If I have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine, do I need to quarantine if I’m exposed to someone with COVID-19?

People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 do NOT need to quarantine after an exposure to another person with COVID-19 if they meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • • They are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
  • • They have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

This does NOT apply to inpatients or residents in healthcare settings.

Regardless of vaccination status, people who exhibit new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still need to isolate and get tested for COVID-19.

Close contacts who have not received vaccine or who do not meet all of the above criteria must follow existing quarantine guidance.

DOH continues to recommend COVID-19 prevention measures such as masking, physical distancing, avoiding nonessential travel, and hand hygiene for all people regardless of vaccination status.

I lost my COVID-19 vaccine card. How do I get a replacement?

The Pennsylvania DOH can help by sending you a record of your immunizations! Please visit the PA-SIIS page and complete the Authorization for Release of Immunizations Records Form.

It is important to note that the PA DOH vaccination record, as well as the CDC vaccination card that individuals receive at the time of their vaccination, are both official proofs of vaccination.

Where to get Vaccinated
Vaccine Data

Expand the tabs below to see the breakdown of vaccine numbers in Central Pa. and state-wide.

Percentage of the midstate that’s received the vaccine
State vaccine data by county

*Note – Philadelphia County is a separate vaccine jurisdiction and has their own information about vaccine distribution.

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