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COVID-19 vaccine safety, availability and delivery

December 15, 2020
December 15, 2020

Updated May 4, 2021

Learn more about and pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine.


Vaccine administration

Is BJC providing vaccines to the general public?
Yes, BJC is providing COVID-19 vaccinations at public vaccination clinics on the academic medical campus, the Christian Hospital campus and in Wentzville. You can now directly schedule your COVID-19 vaccination on our website. Those without internet or email access can call 314-273-1252. Due to high demand, wait times on this line can be lengthy, so it is recommended to use the website when possible.

Where can I register to be vaccinated?
You can now directly schedule your COVID-19 vaccination. Those without internet or email access can call 314-273-1252. Due to high demand, wait times on this line can be lengthy, so it is recommended to use the website when possible.

Do I need to be a BJC patient to receive a vaccination from BJC?
You do not need to be a current patient of BJC HealthCare or Washington University School of Medicine to register for and receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Do I need to set up a MyChart account to be eligible to receive the vaccine through BJC?
You do not need to have a BJC doctor, be in the BJC network or have a MyChart account to receive a vaccine. However, if you have a MyChartaccount, a record of your vaccination will appear there. If you are having difficulty setting up a MyChart account, please call the MyChart help desk at 314-273-1966 and they will walk you through the process.

When I try to set up a MyChart account, why is it asking for verification of private information? 
MyChart is a secure portal to store patient information including medical records, test results and upcoming visits. It’s also how we schedule appointments. Because this site contains private information, we have a security process to validate your identity when you set up your account. Using the information you provide, the tool is able to recognize you and confirm your identity using security questions that only you would know — such as the name of your bank or monthly car payment. It won’t ask for your account number, but it may ask where you have an account. This is a routine process in setting up a secure MyChart account. If you do not have access to the internet and/or an email address, you will not be able to create a MyChart account.

Do BJC HealthCare and Washington University School of Medicine recommend that I get the vaccine if I have the opportunity?
BJC HealthCare and Washington University School of Medicine strongly encourage vaccination for anyone who is eligible when supply is available. Talk to your provider if you have questions regarding your personal health situation.

Get more information on the CDC website.

Where will I go to receive my vaccine?
You will see details about the vaccination clinics, including available locations and options for time slots, when you directly schedule your COVID-19 vaccination. Those without internet or email access can call 314-273-1252. (Due to high demand, wait times on this line can be lengthy, so it is recommended to use the website when possible.)

Can I show up at a hospital or vaccine site, or do I have to have an appointment?
Appointments are required in order to plan appropriate supplies and distribution of vaccine across multiple clinic sites. This also helps prevent doses of the vaccine from going unused and encourages safe social distancing at the vaccination sites.

Should I schedule with my doctor’s office?
Individual physician offices are not likely to be a source of vaccine at this time due to storage and other special handling requirements. This could change.

Are BJC’s vaccine clinics ADA compliant and/or is there assistance at the clinics for me to get in and out?
Yes, All BJC clinics are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), compliant. The academic medical campus location has a free valet service, and concierge service and wheelchairs are available at each location, as needed.

Is there a physician on site at the COVID Vaccine Clinics? What equipment/supplies are available to handle a medical emergency?
A physician is not required to be on site at the BJC COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics. All sites are equipped with automated external defibrillators (AEDs), as well as Epi-pens and some other medications, and staff are prepared to call EMS in the event of a medical emergency.

How are the vaccination clinics able to accommodate patients who need an interpreter?
All sites are equipped with interpreter iPads, which connect trained interpreters to those in need of interpreter services.

Are vaccine clinics able to administer medications prior to vaccination — for example, sedation, numbing cream, Benadryl, etc.?
No, clinic staff may not administer medications prior to vaccination. Patients may self-administer medications — for example, a patient may request numbing cream from his or her primary care physician and apply it prior to vaccination.

Is transportation assistance provided?
Transportation assistance is not available; however, there are some BJC vaccination locations near Metro bus stops and MetroLink stations. There are no BJC drive-through clinics.

Will I need two vaccinations? If so, when will I schedule my second dose?
The first vaccines will require two doses separated by three to four weeks, depending upon which vaccine you receive. Appointments will be scheduled in person when you receive your first dose.

Will I go to the same location for both doses of the vaccine?
Yes, return to the same location for your second dose. Vaccine distribution for dose two is based on quantity of first doses administered so you should get both vaccines with the same organization. This helps manage critical supply levels, ensures equity within our registration process and maintains consistency of records and reporting. Also, it is important to get the same vaccine (Pfizer vs. Moderna), which might not be possible if you receive the vaccine with two different organizations. If you cannot get your second dose in the 21-24 day window, within six weeks (42 days) is acceptable. Also, as a reminder, the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine requires only one dose.

Will I receive both doses of the vaccine from the same vaccine manufacturer?
Yes, if the vaccine you received requires two doses (Pfizer or Moderna), you will receive both doses from the same manufacturer. As a reminder, the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine requires only one dose.

Is there a chance that there won’t be a supply of vaccines when it’s time for my second dose?
At this time, we have no concerns about insufficient supply of second doses.

Will there be enough vaccine for everyone?
We expect to continue receiving regular vaccine shipments so we can eventually offer vaccines to all who wish to receive them.

What will happen when I arrive for my appointment?
Consistent with safety guidance around preventing infection, you are required to wear a mask at all times while at a vaccination clinic. You are also asked to limit attendance to those receiving vaccines, to minimize crowding and encourage safe distancing. However, one person will be able to accompany you if you require assistance. After you receive your vaccine, you will need to remain on-site for 15 minutes to allow clinicians to observe any reactions and take necessary steps. If you have a medical history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines, we will ask you to remain on-site for observation for 30 minutes as a precaution.

I lost my card I received when I got my vaccine, can I get another?

If you have MyChart: Go to Health, then Immunizations, where you should see your COVID-19 vaccination information. You can then print out that page for verification of your vaccination.

If you do not have MyChart, but you do have internet and email access: If you would like to set up a MyChart account to have access to your immunizations and other medication records, please call the MyChart help desk at 314-273-1966 and they will walk you through the process.

If signing up for MyChart is not an option: Contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Bureau of Immunizations at 800-219-3224 or 573-751-6124 to request a new vaccination card.

NEW QUESTION: Are there plans for a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose?
There are no current recommendations for booster doses. To date, the data continues to show good protection out as far as we have data. We will continue to follow the data and recommendations to make updates in our plans as needed.

More about the Vaccines

I was recently vaccinated for something other than COVID-19. When can I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
It is not recommended to get another vaccine 14 days before or after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Ideally you would wait until 14 days after receiving another vaccine.

I receive allergy shots; can I receive the COVID vaccine the same week or do I need to wait a couple weeks?
It is acceptable to get the COVID-19 vaccine while receiving allergy shots. Ideally it is not recommended to receive the allergy shot and COVID-19 vaccine on the same day to prevent confusion about any reactions. Waiting for at least 24 hours after an allergy shot before COVID-19 vaccine should be fine.

I recently had an infusion (Bamlamivimab, Casirivimib, Imdevimab-COVID specific drug, or abciximab, adalimuma-Humira, basiliximab, etc.-Not COVID specific). When can I take the COVID-19 vaccine?
The recommendation for delaying COVID-19 vaccination after monoclonal antibody infusion is specific to patients who have received COVID-specific monoclonal antibody treatment — i.e., bamlamivimab, Casirivimab and imdevimab.

People receiving other monoclonal antibody treatments can receive the vaccine.

We do not yet know how effective vaccines are in someone who has previously received an antibody treatment for a COVID-19 infection, or whether the antibody treatment could interfere with your body's own immune response to a vaccine. Once you have had COVID-19, you are very unlikely to be reinfected for three months afterward. So, if you receive an antibody treatment, you should delay receiving a vaccine for three months as a precaution.

See CDC: Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States.

Will a negative COVID-19 test be required before receiving the vaccine?
No. As with most vaccines, you should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine if you are currently ill with a fever or have COVID-19 symptoms.

Is it OK to take Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) before and/or after receiving the COVID-19?
It is not recommended to pre-medicate with acetaminophen or ibuprofen before receiving your vaccine. Most people who get the vaccine will do fine without any treatment and will not have side effects. If you do develop body aches, headache, arm soreness or fever after receiving the vaccine, it is OK to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with those symptoms.

Which vaccines are available?
The BJC public vaccination clinics in the St. Louis metro area are providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultra-cold storage freezers that are not widely available in all health care settings. So, this means that the Pfizer vaccine is distributed only to vaccine distributors such as BJC that can store the vaccine.

How much does the vaccine cost? Do I need to bring my insurance card or a co-pay?
If you have insurance – including Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance – we will bill your insurance for administration of the vaccine. There will be no cost to you. Insurance is not required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please bring your insurance card to your appointment if you have insurance.

Is BJC vaccinating corporate partners or large groups/organizations?
At this time, we do not have sufficient vaccine supply from the state to assist with vaccinating an organization in its entirety. We recommend contacting the local health department for assistance. In addition, we encourage individual members of an organization to directly schedule their COVID-19 vaccination

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be offered every year, like the flu shot?
At this time, we do not know whether annual vaccinations will be required for COVID-19, as they are for influenza.

How long after receiving the first or second dose of the vaccine will I develop immunity to the virus?
We anticipate full protection will be 10-14 days from completion of the vaccine series (both doses, if two doses are required), though there may be some protection after the first dose. We do not have complete information yet on these COVID-19 vaccines but expect the time frame for full protection to be similar to other vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine.

Should I receive an antibody test after I’m vaccinated to confirm the vaccine was effective?
An antibody test is not necessary. Most currently available antibody tests look for an antibody generated after an actual COVID-19 infection, not the specific antibody generated by the vaccine. These antibody tests following a COVID-19 vaccine would likely be negative, even though the vaccine worked.

If I do not experience any side effects from the vaccine, does this mean it did not work?
The majority of people who receive the vaccine will not experience side effects, and the lack of side effects does not mean the vaccine isn’t working. While more common than with other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine still only produces side effects in about 15-20% of recipients, most of which are mild and short-lived. It’s also more common to have some side effects after the second dose, and if you are under 50 years old. The majority of people who receive the vaccine will not have side effects.

How long will the vaccine be effective?
This is not yet entirely clear. Studies have measured antibodies that persist for at least several months after vaccination. Antibodies are an important part of the immune system but not the only way disease is prevented. An important part of the FDA’s decision about whether to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine was whether it is safe and effective. How long a vaccine is likely to provide protection will likely require more study.

I recently had contact with a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19. When can I be vaccinated?
If you have been exposed to a known COVID-19-positive individual, you should wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine until at least 14 days after your last date of exposure. The purpose of waiting is to avoid any confusion between a possible vaccine reaction, such as a mild fever, with actual COVID-19 illness. The vaccine will not provide protection quickly enough to protect you against infection from an exposure that occurred within the past 14 days of receiving the vaccine.

Can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m taking antibiotics? Steroids?
Yes, you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine if you are taking antibiotics or steroids. If you are on antibiotics and have moderate to severe symptoms of sickness, you may need to wait until your symptoms improve before being vaccinated. This precaution is to avoid confusion between your current illness and possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are taking steroids, you may want to wait a week or two after completing steroids to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as steroids could make the vaccine response less robust.

I recently tested positive for COVID; should I be vaccinated?
Persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 are considered highly unlikely to get reinfection with COVID-19 for at least 90 days; you can choose to safely delay vaccination and still be protected.

Persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days should defer vaccination until they are outside of the isolation period and are recovered (this is usually 10 days from symptom onset, have no fever for at least 24 hours AND improvement in other symptoms).

Persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days should defer vaccination until they are outside of the isolation period and are recovered (this is usually 10 days from symptom onset, have no fever for at least 24 hours AND improvement in other symptoms). The purpose for waiting is to avoid exposing others while possibly still contagious. In addition, waiting until recovered will avoid diagnostic confusion between the underlying COVID-19 illness and possible adverse effects of vaccination or superimposing adverse effects of the vaccine on the underlying illness.

What if I test positive for COVID-19 after receiving my first vaccine, but before receiving my second dose?
You should delay your second shot until you recover and are out of isolation (usually 10 days from first symptoms, no fever for at least 24 hours and improvement in other symptoms). Try to get your second dose as close as possible to the recommended time. The purpose for waiting is to avoid exposing others while possibly still contagious. Even if your second dose is delayed by a few days to weeks after the target date while you recover, there is no recommendation to restart the vaccine series.

I have heard the COVID-19 vaccine can cause swollen lymph nodes. Does this impact when I should get a mammogram?
Vaccines of all types can result in temporary swelling of the lymph nodes, which may be a sign that the body is making antibodies in response as intended. Due to this possibility, the Society for Breast Imaging recommends that, if possible without delaying needed care, schedule your mammogram either before the first dose or 4 – 6 weeks after the last dose of vaccine. If diagnostic mammography is required within that 4 – 6 weeks of being vaccinated, inform your mammography provider of the date you received a vaccine.

Where can I get more information about the vaccines?
Online resources are available and this list will continue to be updated. Visit:


Vaccine safety

How do I know the vaccine is safe?
The COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same safety standards as all vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitor all U.S. vaccines for safety and provide data and insight continuously to government health agencies, public health partners and the public. The current vaccine safety system has the capacity to effectively monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines both under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and after FDA approval. The CDC, along with the FDA and other federal partners, will use established safety systems to conduct heightened safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines. Additional safety measures include using CDC text messaging and web surveys to follow up after individuals receive the vaccine. If a link is found between a side effect and a COVID-19 vaccine, public health officials will take appropriate action by weighing the benefits of the vaccine against its risks to determine if recommendations for using the vaccine should change and will continuously monitor and evaluate safety thereafter.

These vaccines received Emergency Use Authorization. What does that mean?
An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a process the federal government can use during an emergency such as a pandemic to authorize use of a vaccine, drug or medical device that is not yet licensed or that is licensed for a different purpose. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Jannsen vaccines have all received EUA from the FDA.

Learn more about vaccine safety

What if the vaccine is found to cause further complications?
Based on clinical trial data, the FDA has determined the vaccine is safe for distribution. However, as part of its process, the FDA will continue to monitor for possible side effects.

Learn more about vaccine safety

What should I do if I received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine?
Despite the investigation of a possible link from the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to a rare blood-clotting side effect, for most people the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus.

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine have been administered in the United States and there have been a total of 15 reported cases of individuals developing blood clots within two weeks of receiving the vaccine. The clots were reported among women ages 18-48. Some cases have been serious, including one death. The FDA has reviewed all the data and recommended continued availability of the J&J vaccine. For women ages 18-50 who have easy access to an alternative vaccine, an alternative vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna may be a little bit safer. If J&J is the only vaccine available, it is safer to be vaccinated with J&J than to be unvaccinated. BJC and Washington University will continue to follow the data closely and federal recommendations closely. If you received the J&J vaccine more than two weeks ago without any problems at that time, there is no reason to be concerned now.

Anyone who has received the J&J COVID-19 vaccine in the last two weeks should pay close attention to potential side effects, including:

  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Leg pain/swelling
  • Abdominal pain

If you are experience such symptoms in the two weeks after your vaccine, you should contact your health care provider right away.

Can/should I get the vaccine if I’m pregnant or may become pregnant, or if I'm breastfeeding?
When making a decision, pregnant women and their health care providers should consider the level of COVID-19 community transmission and each person’s personal risk of contracting COVID-19.

Additional information and answers to questions about COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy.

Learn more about the CDC’s recommendations for vaccinating pregnant women.

If I get the vaccine, can I be around pregnant women or could I unknowingly expose them to COVID-19?
The vaccine does not contain any live virus and cannot cause infection with COVID-19. Getting the vaccine will not increase your risk of transmitting COVID-19. However, it is recommended that everyone continue to use masks and distance from others not in your household even after receiving the vaccine. We know the vaccine protects against symptomatic COVID-19 infection and severe illness from COVID-19, but we don't know yet whether it prevents low level, asymptomatic infections that could still be transmitted to others.

The development of the vaccines was accelerated and the long-term effects are unknown, right?
The rapid timeline to availability of these vaccines is not due to any shortcuts in development or safety testing of the vaccines. Scientists have been working on coronavirus vaccines for decades, after SARS-1 emerged and in response to MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). Neither of these viruses turned out to spread as quickly as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, so those vaccines were never brought to market at the time.

The funding provided by the federal government allowed vaccine developers to pursue all the usual vaccine development studies and safety testing at the same time, instead of one phase at a time — and also allowed them to manufacture doses before the vaccine was approved. This support moved the process along more quickly, without any shortcuts in the development, effectiveness and safety testing process. Most side effects of vaccines appear in the days immediately following vaccination. Delayed effects occurring months after vaccination are not usually seen.

What are the side effects?
At this time, the most common reported side effects have been fever, headache, fatigue, and body or muscle aches in the days immediately following vaccination. It is possible these side effects will be more prominent than what it is experienced after a flu shot. Per early reports, these effects are more common after the second dose.

Should I report side effects from the vaccine, if there are any?
Recipients of the vaccine will have an opportunity to report side effects using a mobile app called v-safe. This app uses text messaging to initiate web-based monitoring. Any clinically important event reported by a participant is sent to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) for follow-up.

Learn more about the v-safe app. You can also contact your primary care physician.

When the manufacturers mention 95% effectiveness, what does this mean? Does that mean a 95% chance of being COVID-19-immune or that you will experience 95% less symptoms if you contract COVID-19?
Vaccine effectiveness is a mathematical calculation that compares the risk for developing disease (COVID-19) among a group of people who received the vaccine compared to the risk for developing the disease among a control group who did not receive the vaccine. A vaccine efficacy of 95% indicates a 95% reduction in disease among those who were vaccinated, or a 95% reduction from the number of cases you would expect among those who were not vaccinated. The vaccine showed similar results across all age groups of adults.

I have had significant allergies in the past. Should I get the vaccine?
If you have had a severe or immediate allergic reaction after a previous dose or to a component of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the CDC does not recommend that you receive a second dose of the either COVID-19 vaccine. If you have had an immediate allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable medications, please discuss with your physician before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • You may still choose to receive the vaccine to be protected against COVID-19. We cannot know for sure whether you will have an allergic reaction to this vaccine. We will monitor you for 30 minutes after the vaccine. If you choose not to receive the vaccine at this time, you can reschedule after discussing with your doctor or allergist or when ready to receive it. You will not lose access to the vaccine.
  • The CDC has confirmed that none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines to date contain any preservatives, gelatin, egg protein or antibiotics that could cause an allergic reaction. It may contain components found in other vaccines and injectable medications that could lead to a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) in those with a known history of a severe allergic reaction. The vaccines and vial stoppers are not made with natural rubber latex. Anyone with a history of anaphylaxis due to any cause will be observed for 30 minutes after vaccination.

For more information:

If I am allergic to the seasonal flu vaccine, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Your doctor may be able to help assess this risk, which will depend on what exactly you are allergic to and whether that is a component of the COVID-19 vaccine.

I have a severe latex allergy. Can the COVID-19 vaccine be given safely to me?
The CDC has confirmed that none of the current vaccines — Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson/Jannsen vaccine contains latex.

Can I catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No. The vaccines do NOT use live virus and therefore cannot cause COVID-19.

Once I’m vaccinated, can I still spread COVID-19 to others?
We know the vaccine protects against symptomatic COVID-19 and against severe disease with COVID-19. It is unknown whether it is possible for someone who has been vaccinated to still acquire and spread COVID-19 to others. This is one reason it will be essential to continue wearing a mask, avoid crowds, physically distance and wash your hands even after vaccination until this becomes clearer.

Do I still need to wear a mask and practice physical distancing if I’ve been vaccinated?
Yes. It’s important to continue practicing these safety measures until broad public immunity is achieved.

Should I wear two masks to protect myself?
When it comes to masking, think of quality first. Wear a mask that:

  • Has two or more layers
  • Completely covers your nose and mouth
  • Fits snugly against your nose and the sides of your face
  • Does not have gaps where air can leak out
  • The CDC provides recommendations about how to choose a mask that fits properly and ways to improve the fit and filtration of your mask.

What are the quarantine recommendations for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and then exposed to someone with COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed its quarantine recommendations following a COVID-19 exposure for people who have received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccine series. If you have been exposed to somebody with COVID-19, but have received both doses of vaccine within the last 90 days, quarantine is no longer necessary due to your level of protection from the vaccine. While the vaccine’s efficacy in preventing severe illness for those vaccinated is documented, it is not yet fully understood how well it prevents you from transmitting COVID-19 to others. It is still critically important to continue safety practices to protect those around you — wearing masks, practicing physical and social distance, avoiding crowds and frequent hand washing.

Is there an age recommendation for children to receive the vaccine?
Currently, there is not a COVID-19 vaccine available for children under 16 because children were not part of the clinical trials to date. More information about safety and whether children and teenagers can be vaccinated will be available in coming months. The Moderna vaccine is only approved for people age 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people age 16 and older.

Is this vaccine safe for people who have an autoimmune disease and are on medication for treatment?
There is no research to suggest that vaccines are harmful for autoimmune diseases. People should discuss with their providers their risk of acquiring COVID19, their risk of poor outcomes if they do get COVID19, the impact of COVID-19 infection on their underlying conditions and consider vaccination in light of those conversations.

Do I need a vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Yes. It’s unclear how long immunity lasts after COVID-19 infection and it may vary from individual to individual. It is likely that vaccination will ensure more consistent immunity across the population of recipients.

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