COVID-19 Vaccine Progress & Availability

Safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19 help reduce damages from the coronavirus pandemic. The vaccines:

  • help fewer people be infected.
  • lower the number of people who have to be cared for in the hospital.
  • reduce the long-term effects of COVID-19.
  • lower the number of deaths from COVID-19.

Currently, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines, and the vaccine made by Janssen (a Johnson & Johnson company), are the only COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States.

University of Utah Health looks to medical and public health experts for updates on the status of COVID-19 vaccines. These experts include the following:

  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
  • Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Vaccine and Related Biologics Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)

Our specialists in infectious disease, epidemiology, and occupational health follow guidance from these groups and work closely with the Utah Department of Health. They keep updated on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. They also review CDC recommendations for how the vaccines will be given out to healthcare workers and the public.


Vaccinations Available for Patients 16 & Older

U of U Health, along with several health systems in Utah, have been asked by the state to help distribute COVID-19 vaccines to select patients within our health system.

We are currently offering the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to U of U Health patients who live in Utah and are age 16 or older. We cannot provide vaccine to everyone and most Utahns should expect to receive their vaccine through the state. At this time, we are pausing distribution of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine to patients. Please read our statement for more information.

If you can't find a vaccine appointment at U of U Health, we encourage you to schedule your appointment with another provider. For other COVID-19 vaccine locations and scheduling options, visit If you need assistance, call the state’s COVID-19 Information Hotline: 1-800-456-7707.

How to Schedule an Appointment

Why Should I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Vaccine Effectiveness

The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen (a Johnson & Johnson company) vaccines are all highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. If you get the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, you will need two doses to fully protect you against COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. It takes about two weeks after the final dose of each vaccine to reach full immunity.

U of U Health experts say that the best vaccine is the first one that becomes available to you. View our COVID-19 vaccine infographic to learn more about the different vaccines.

Vaccine Side Effects

Side effects are a sign that your immune system is building up protection against disease. Side effects for the COVID-19 vaccines include:

  • mild pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site where you get the vaccine;
  • fever, usually mild and short-lived;
  • chills;
  • feeling tired;
  • headache;
  • muscle and joint aches;
  • diarrhea (seen in Pfizer/BioNTech clinical trials);
  • nausea (seen in Moderna clinical trials); and
  • swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection site (seen in Moderna clinical trials). 

Some people who received the vaccine reported worse fevers and aches than others. Side effects were usually short-lived and able to be managed with fever-reducing medications, such as Tylenol. For people who received the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, side effects were more common after the second dose than the first dose. Read our statement about the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine and its side effects.

Allergic Reactions to Vaccines

Severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis to vaccines are extremely uncommon. If a severe allergic reaction does occur, it typically happens within a few minutes to one hour after receiving the vaccine. However, some people have experienced non-severe allergic reactions (i.e., hives, swelling, and wheezing) within four hours after getting vaccinated.

You should not get the COVID-19 vaccine if:

  • you have had a severe allergic reaction after the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
  • you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine.
  • you are allergic to polyethylene-glycol (ingredient in Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines) or polysorbate (ingredient in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that is closely related to PEG). 

For a list of vaccine ingredients, see the ModernaPfizer-BioNTech, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson company) fact sheets.

People with a history of immediate allergic reactions — even if it was not severe — to other vaccines or injectable therapies should consult with their doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, according to CDC recommendations.

I Had COVID-19. Should I Get the Vaccine?

We don’t know if or for how long after infection you will be protected from getting COVID-19 again. Current evidence suggests that it is uncommon to be reinfected with COVID-19 within the 90 days after your initial infection.

It is recommended that you get the vaccine even if you have been infected. However, it is recommended that you do not get the vaccine if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days, according to state guidelines. This will help conserve limited vaccine supplies.

Have More Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Visit our FAQs page for expert-based answers

Older Adults & COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

The current CDC recommendations are to vaccinate all adults (regardless of other risks) age 65 and older. The most recent data from clinical trials shows that the vaccine was very effective (better than 90 percent) in protecting people 65 years and older. The rate of harmful reactions in older adults has also been low — likely lower than the flu vaccine. At this time, there is not a lot of information on adults who are 90 years of age and older. If you have questions about the vaccine, consult with your doctor.

Vaccination Considerations for Pregnant Women

At this time, we don’t have enough information about how the vaccine may affect pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding. Pregnant women were not allowed to enter the recent COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. However, a few women did become pregnant during the trials and no issues have been reported.

Based on current knowledge, health experts believe that the current COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to:

  • the fetus,
  • breastfed infants, and
  • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommends that the vaccine be offered to pregnant and breastfeeding women who would otherwise qualify. Pregnant women should ask their provider about weighing the risks and benefits.

Can My Child or Teen Get the Vaccine?

The vaccines have not been widely tested on children and teens. Vaccine manufacturers only recently started including children as young as 12 in their trials. At this time, we don’t know how the vaccine affects people in these age groups. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has only been authorized for use in people 16 years of age and older, however, the Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines have only been authorized for people age 18 and older.

Vaccine Cost

The COVID-19 vaccine will be given to everyone at no out-of-pocket cost. However, your insurance company will be billed a vaccine administration fee to cover vaccination operations costs. For those without insurance coverage, assistance programs will cover the administrative fee. Nobody will be denied a vaccine if they can’t afford to pay.

Social Distancing Guidelines after Vaccination

Even after vaccination, it will be important to continue:
  • wearing a mask,
  • staying six feet apart,
  • washing your hands, and
  • avoiding crowds.

Clinical trials showed the vaccines will protect you from getting ill from COVID-19. However, we do not yet know how well they protect you from becoming infected with the virus and spreading it to other people. It will be important to continue taking precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 until guidelines from the CDC indicate otherwise. 

We will update this webpage as more information becomes available.

Watch our experts to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and why you should get it.

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