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COVID-19 Vaccine

 

Vaccine -peopleWellSpan is boldly moving forward to help keep our neighbors a healthy step ahead. Right now, that includes helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are following the phased rollout plan for the COVID-19 vaccine determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

As of May 12, 2021, all Pennsylvanians over the age of 12* are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine.

*Currently, the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for use in people 12 and older. Patients younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. 

WellSpan is currently administering the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Based on allocation and inventory, we cannot guarantee availability of a particular brand at all locations.

As of August 19, WellSpan will offer third-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine appointments to patients who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. Call (855) 851-3641 to schedule an appointment. 

Schedule Your Vaccine on MyWellspan   Schedule Your Vaccine without a MyWellSpan Account

Vaccine Locations

Or call (855) 851-3641 to schedule your vaccine by phone.

If you received your first vaccine dose at a non-WellSpan location and now need a second dose, please call (855) 851-3641 to schedule your appointment (online scheduling not available in this situation).

 

Frequently Asked Questions - Learn More About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Schedule a COVID-19 Vaccine with Your MyWellSpan Account

We encourage all individuals to create a MyWellSpan account to make the appointment scheduling process easier during this time of high demand for the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can schedule a vaccination appointment using your MyWellSpan account. You can also use your MyWellSpan account to prepare for your appointment with eCheckin, to schedule an appointment for your second vaccine dose, and to access your vaccination record.

Schedule Your Vaccine on MyWellspan   Create your MyWellSpan Account

  • Click ‘Appointments’
  • Click ‘Schedule an Appointment’
  • Click ‘COVID-19 Vaccine – First Dose'
  • Answer the questions. If you are eligible and appointments are available, you will be able to schedule a vaccination. If appointments are not currently available, complete the questionnaire and you will be notified when appointments become available to you (based on eligibility and vaccine supply). Notifications will be made to those who submitted the interest form in the order received. It may be several weeks until you receive a notification. 

If you would like to schedule on behalf of a loved one, learn how to enable Proxy access to their account.

Schedule online without a MyWellSpan account

Patients who do not have a MyWellSpan account, can schedule online as a guest.

Schedule by phone

Patients can also schedule through the COVID-19 Hotline: (855) 851-3641.

We appreciate your patience as we experience high call volumes. Hold times for the call COVID-19 Hotline and primary care provider offices will be longer than usual. Due to these high volumes on our phone lines, please do not call provider offices with medical emergencies. Please call 911.


Frequently Asked Questions

Getting the Vaccine

Q Does WellSpan recommend the COVID-19 vaccine?
WellSpan Health endorses the COVID-19 vaccine. Our experts have reviewed the available research and find the vaccine to be safe and effective and are encouraging community members to make an informed decision about receiving it.

Q When will I be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

As of May 12, 2021, all Pennsylvanians over the age of 12 are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine.

 Updated COVID Graphic For Web

Q Can I transfer my COVID-19 vaccination appointment to someone else if I no longer need it? 
COVID-19 vaccination appointments are non-transferable and cannot be transferred or “gifted” to someone else. If you need to cancel your appointment, please visit MyWellSpan or call the COVID Care Line (855) 851-3641.

Q What should I expect when I arrive to my appointment?

Video provided by the Pennsylvania Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH)

Q How much does the COVID-19 vaccine cost?
The COVID-19 vaccine will be free. However, vaccine administration charges will be billed to insurance with no out-of-pocket costs incurred by patients.

Vaccine Safety, Side Effects, Effectiveness

Q Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective?

Yes, all the available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ages 16 and older.   

The Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccines have been through a rigorous process before being authorized as safe and effective for emergency use by the FDA.  Pfizer is authorized for emergency use for ages 12-15. 

 Additionally, WellSpan experts have carefully reviewed the available research data and find the vaccines to be safe and effective. If you would like to learn more about the available vaccines, how they work, and their effectiveness, read this article from Yale Medicine. 

Q Are there side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine?
Most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated. However, your arm may be sore, red, or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. Some people report getting a headache or fever after getting a vaccine. These side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It is working and building up protection to disease.

Q If I am experiencing side effects, when should I call my doctor?
Most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated. In the first three days after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, a person may experience fever, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches, joint pain, and/or swelling of lymph nodes on the same side of the body that the vaccination was provided. These are expected side effects of the vaccine and are a sign that the immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, building up protection to disease. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. If symptoms are more severe or do not go away after a week, please call your primary care provider.

Q Is it dangerous to receive the vaccine if I am COVID-19 positive at the time I get vaccinated? What if I am asymptomatic and don’t realize I have COVID-19?
There is no health or safety risk related to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine while COVID- 19 positive. Persons with a known current COVID-19 infection should wait to be vaccinated until they recover from the acute illness (if the person had symptoms) and criteria have been met to discontinue isolation. If a person is asymptomatic and unknowingly gets vaccinated while COVID-19 positive, there is no danger to their safety. If you have had COVID-19 and were treated with an antibody treatment, you should wait 90 days after the treatment before receiving the vaccine.

Q If someone tested positive for COVID-19, do they need to be vaccinated?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) finds the COVID-19 vaccine safe and likely effective in persons with evidence of a prior COVID-19 infection. Persons with known current COVID-19 infection should wait to be vaccinated until they recover from the acute illness (if the person had symptoms) and criteria have been met to discontinue isolation.

Q Should we be worried about how quickly this vaccine was created?
No. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our country has focused all efforts and attentions on creating a safe COVID-19 vaccine. This means less barriers, more “hands on deck” and more funding to achieve our collective goal. The U.S. government has united government agencies, international counterparts, academia, nonprofit organizations and pharmaceutical companies to develop a coordinated strategy for prioritizing and speeding development of the most promising vaccines.
In addition, the federal government has made investments in the necessary manufacturing capacity at its own risk, giving companies confidence that they can invest aggressively in development and allowing faster distribution of an eventual vaccine.
However, efforts to speed vaccine development to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have not sacrificed scientific standards, integrity of the vaccine review process, or safety.

Q What does Emergency Use Authorization mean?
At this time, the Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA.  Pfizer has received EUA for ages 12-15. According to the FDA, an EUA is a mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Under an EUA, the FDA may allow the use of unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions when certain statutory criteria have been met, including that there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives. Taking into consideration input from the FDA, manufacturers decide whether and when to submit an EUA request to the FDA. Once submitted, the FDA evaluates an EUA request and determines whether the relevant statutory criteria are met, taking into account the totality of the scientific evidence about the vaccine that is available to FDA.

After Receiving the Vaccine

Q Following receiving the vaccination, if I develop symptoms, how do I know if these are side effects or indicators of COVID-19?
In the first three days after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, a person may experience fever, fatigue, headache, chills, myalgia, and arthralgia. These are expected side effects of the vaccine. If you experience cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell you should be assessed and tested for COVID-19 infection. These are not usual side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Video provided by the Pennsylvania Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH)

Q After I receive the vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing?
The protective effect of the vaccine is not immediate. Therefore, individuals who receive a two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should wear a mask and practice social distancing in between doses and for two weeks after receiving their second dose. Individuals receiving the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine should wear masks and socially distance for two weeks after receiving the vaccine. Per CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals then are no longer required to wear a mask, indoors or outdoors, except in specific settings like health care facilities. In order to reduce the risk of being and possibly spreading it to others, fully vaccinated individuals are still encouraged to wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. See the CDC website for more information.

Q Will I need a vaccine every year?
There are no current recommendations on recommended frequency of receiving the vaccine. Participants in the vaccine clinical studies received their vaccinations over the summer. Researchers will follow them for two years to determine how long the vaccine is effective and will make recommendations on how often a person should receive the vaccine. 

Third Dose for People Who Are Immunocompromised

Q Will WellSpan provide a COVID-19 third dose to fully vaccinated patients?

WellSpan will be offering third dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine appointments to those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised at all of our current COVID-19 vaccine locations that offer that particular vaccine.

Q How will I be able to receive a third dose vaccine at WellSpan?

Eligible patients will be able to receive a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at any WellSpan Health facility that currently offers that particular vaccine. You can schedule an appointment by calling that location or the COVID-19 hotline (855) 851-3641. Right now, third dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments cannot be made through your MyWellSpan account.

Q If I received Moderna as my first two doses of the vaccine, can I receive the Pfizer vaccine as my third dose? Or vice versa?

The CDC recommends that additional doses should be the same vaccine product as the initial two-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). If the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available, the other mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered. A person should not receive more than three mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Q Will I need to provide a doctor’s note, prescription, or other documentation in order to receive a third dose?

No. Patients are encouraged to discuss with their health care provider whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them. If their health care provider is not at a site administering vaccines, these individuals can self-attest and receive the additional dose wherever vaccines are offered. This will help ensure there are not additional barriers to access for this vulnerable population receiving a needed additional dose.

Q Who is considered “moderately to severely immunocompromised?”

The CDC is recommending the additional vaccine be considered for people with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition, or those who receive immunosuppressive medications or treatment. This includes people who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

Q Are non-immunocompromised individuals allowed to receive the third dose of the vaccine if requested?

At this time, the amended emergency use authorization of these vaccines does not apply to those who are non-immunocompromised. The CDC and FDA continue to review available evidence and data on whether or when booster doses for other populations, including seniors, may be needed. Available data shows the vaccines continue to be strongly protective against severe illness and death caused by COVID-19. Should the guidance from the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health expand to additional eligible categories of patients, we will align with the updated recommendations.

Q Why is the additional vaccine only available to this population, and not others who are considered high risk?

Studies suggest some people with a moderately to severely compromised immune system don’t always build the same level of immunity after vaccination the way non-immunocompromised people do, and may benefit from an additional dose to make sure they have enough protection against COVID-19. Small studies have also found that among fully vaccinated people hospitalized for COVID-19, people who are immunocompromised accounted for a large proportion of breakthrough cases, even though they only make up about three percent of the adult population.

Q What is the difference between an “additional dose” and a “booster dose?”

An “additional dose” refers to people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receiving an additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 28 days after the completion of the initial mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. This is because they may not have received adequate protection from their initial 2-dose vaccine series.

A “booster dose” is a supplemental vaccine dose given to people when the immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have waned over time. We anticipate more definitive information about boosters in September, and will continue to follow CDC recommendations.

Q What should immunocompromised people who received the J&J/Janssen vaccine do?

The CDC’s guidance on additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine does not currently apply to Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA and CDC are actively working to provide guidance on this issue, and WellSpan Health will continue to align with recommendations.

Vaccine and Children

Q Is WellSpan giving the COVID-19 vaccination to children age 12 and older?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend vaccination for children age 12 and older. WellSpan follows the CDC recommendations to give any vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Q Why should my child get the COVID-19 vaccination?
More than 3.5 million children in the United States, or 1 in 20 children, have tested positive for COVID-19. 10% of cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania are in children age 10-19. More than 100 children in Pennsylvania have been diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. There have been 10 children in Pennsylvania and over 300 children nationally with deaths related to COVID-19.

Q My child has already had COVID-19. Do they need to be vaccinated?
It is true that prior infection with COVID-19 gives natural immunity and protection against future infections. However, how long this immunity lasts is not well known. Early data suggests that natural immunity plus vaccination gives a stronger and longer lasting immune response.

Q Which manufacturer’s vaccine will my child get?
Currently, Pfizer/Biontech is the only approved vaccine for children ages 12 to 17.

Q Has the COVID-19 vaccine been tested in children?
Yes. Pfizer and BioNTech tested their vaccine in 2200 children age 12-15 years. Half of the children received the vaccine and half did not. The vaccine was 100% effective, meaning NO CHILDREN who received the vaccine got COVID-19. Additionally, the vaccine produced almost double the antibody response in 12- to 15-year-old children compared to older teens and young adults.

Q Were there any side effects in children from the COVID-19 vaccine?
Side effects were consistent with those seen in older teens and young adults. These include sore arm, redness, fatigue, fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and joint pain.

Q What about long-term side effects of the vaccination? Have they been studied?
While the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccination have not been studied, there is no reason at this time to believe that the vaccine will have any long-term effects on a child’s growth and development. The vaccine has been studied in pregnant women and has been shown to have no effect on the infant in the womb or infants breastfeeding.

Q What about other non-COVID vaccinations?
You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit. The CDC no longer recommends waiting 14 days between vaccinations. Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection after getting vaccinated, and possible side effects of vaccines, are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines.

Special Considerations

Q If someone has allergies, is the COVID-19 vaccine recommended?
If you have a food allergy, such as to nuts or eggs, it should be considered safe to receive the vaccine. If you have an EpiPen because you have had previous serious allergic reactions, we recommend that you bring it with you to your appointment in the rare event of a reaction.
If you previously had an allergic reaction to a vaccine, please consult with your primary care physician prior to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are allergic to any ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine per the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet, you should not receive the vaccine.

Q Should patients who are immunocompromised receive the vaccine?
There is currently no data available related to the safety or efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine in these groups. People with HIV or other immunocompromising conditions might be at increased risk for COVID-19. Immunocompromised individuals may still receive COVID-19 vaccination if they have no contraindications to vaccination. However, they should be counseled about the unknown vaccine safety profile and effectiveness in immunocompromised populations, as well as the potential for reduced immune responses and the need to continue to follow all current guidance to protect themselves against COVID-19.

Q Are there people who should not get the COVID-19 vaccine?
People who have experienced severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any component of the vaccine should not receive it. A person who has experienced a severe allergic reaction to ANY vaccine or injectable therapy (intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous), you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your care provider will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated. If you have a severe allergic reaction after getting the first shot of COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the second shot. Your care provider may refer you to a specialist in allergies and immunology to provide more care or advice.

Q If I contract COVID-19 before I receive my second dose, what should I do?
Vaccination of persons with known a current infection should be deferred until the person has recovered (if the person had symptoms) and has discontinued isolation. This recommendation applies to persons who develop COVID-19 before receiving any vaccine doses as well as those who develop COVID-19 after the first dose but before receipt of the second dose.

Pregnancy/Fertility

Q Should pregnant women receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) strongly recommend that pregnant women receive the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 infection puts pregnant people at an increased risk of severe complications. It may be helpful for pregnant and breastfeeding women to speak with their providers to help guide them in making an informed decision about being vaccinated.

Additional recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Q I have read that the COVID-19 vaccine might cause infertility. Is this true?

Vaccination is strongly encouraged for non-pregnant individuals. Further, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends vaccination of individuals who are actively trying to become pregnant or are contemplating pregnancy and meet the criteria for vaccination. It is not necessary to delay pregnancy after completing both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Importantly, unfounded claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility have been scientifically disproven. ACOG recommends vaccination for all eligible people who may consider future pregnancy. Due to the way immunity is delivered to the body, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not a cause of infertility. Vaccines that use inactivated viruses, such as the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine cannot replicate, and available data suggests it is cleared from the body after the shot is given. Because it does not replicate in the cells, the vaccine cannot cause infection or alter the DNA of a vaccine recipient and is also not a cause of infertility.

More information from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccines

Q What is the difference between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?
Pfizer and Moderna are two different pharmaceutical manufacturers who are producing COVID-19 vaccines. Both organizations have used the same process to test and submit their data to the FDA for review and Emergency Use Authorization Approval. While no vaccine is 100% effective, current studies have shown both companies’ COVID-19 vaccines to be over 90% effective. Both vaccines will require two doses. Both of the vaccines work by the same biological mechanism. At this time, the vaccines are not interchangeable because the safety and effectiveness of a mixed vaccine series has not been tested. You should complete your vaccine series with the same product.

Q Is WellSpan providing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

WellSpan has received a small supply of Johnson and Johnson vaccine. 

Q Can I select which COVID-19 vaccine I receive?
Yes, when people schedule online they have the option to choose between a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) and a 1-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson). People also can request a specific vaccine when calling 717-851-3641 to schedule a vaccine.

Q Does the vaccine contain a live virus?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine that WellSpan Health will receive does not contain a live virus. The vaccine uses mRNA and our own body systems to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. mRNA stands for Messenger RNA or Messenger ribonucleic acid. The mRNA brings instructions into the cell to make a protein that helps the immune response.

New COVID-19 Variants

Q What does variant mean?
The word variant refers to the mutations or changes that causes a virus to behave differently, such as becoming more infectious. A variant doesn’t change the disease that is caused by the virus. In this case, the variant doesn’t change the COVID-19 disease itself, it changes how easily COVID-19 can be transmitted.

Q Are the new COVID-19 variants new viruses?
No. A variant is one of the many forms of the COVID-19 virus. It is normal for viruses to change as they spread through a population and COVID-19 is no exception.

Q What can we do to stop this?
The new variant still spreads the same way as the original COVID-19 virus. That means the same things everyone has been doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 since March will also work for the new variant: washing hands, physical distancing, wearing masks and good ventilation. Adhering strictly to those rules and avoiding unnecessary outings will help prevent its spread.

For a deeper dive on vaccine information, we recommend reading the information provided by John Hopkins University & Medicine.


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