COVID-19 Vaccine Information

STATUS: In keeping with state and federal guidelines, initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been made available to frontline health care workers and high risk groups. As supplies allow, we are currently vaccinating: 1) Health care workers (Phase 1A); 2) People over the age of 65, or people over the age of 16 with medical conditions that put them at a greater risk of severe disease or death from COVID-19 (Phase 1B)

Currently Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine As of Jan. 20, 2021

Phase 1A

Health care workers

Phase 1B

Individuals at high risk for severe illness or death resulting from COVID-19:

  • Age 65 or older
  • Age 16 or older with one or more chronic health conditions, including but not limited to:
  • Cancer with ongoing treatment
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

View full Phase 1A and Phase 1B information (PDFs) from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Vaccine Hub Designation Update 

UTMB was very recently named a COVID-19 vaccine hub provider by the State of Texas. We are pleased to gain this designation and look forward to working with other partners in the region to vaccinate individuals in the community in accordance with state guidelines, as vaccines are received.

Working in concert with Galveston County, the Galveston County Health District and other community partners, we’ll be focusing on vaccinating as many individuals as possible, as quickly and conveniently as possible, with the vaccine stocks to be made available to us. We will communicate about vaccine hub activities—including location and registration process—once those arrangements have been finalized. Please check back for updates.

  • Vaccine Supply Notice - 1/18/21

    UTMB expects to receive a limited shipment of COVID-19 vaccine sometime the week of Jan. 18. This shipment—part of what was in place before the hub designation—will be used to administer first doses to some of the high-risk individuals whose appointments had to be canceled when we temporarily ran out of supply.

    We will begin contacting these individuals by text, MyChart message and phone as soon as the vaccine has been received. We are prioritizing those who are at highest risk of hospitalization with COVID-19. We will continue to reschedule the remaining individuals who had appointments canceled, once we have adequate supply.

    At this time, second doses are continuing as scheduled. If you are scheduled for the second dose, please make every effort to keep your appointment.

    If you have a UTMB MyChart account, we ask that you take a moment now to check your profile to ensure we have accurate email and cell phone contact information.

This COVID-19 vaccination initiative is a collaboration led and organized by Galveston County, UTMB Health and the Galveston County Health District, with support from the state and other regional partners.

Vaccine Collaboration between UTMB, Galveston County, and Galveston County Health District

Reporting an Adverse Vaccine Event

To ensure safety, there’s a significant effort to track possible side effects and adverse events from the COVID-19 vaccines. Use the links below if you experience anything concerning or unexpected with the vaccine.

Report your event to HHS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System-VAERS) Use the V-Safe Tool (app from the CDC)
So, how does an mRNA vaccine work?

Scan through the slides to see what makes these mRNA COVID vaccines different.

Frequently Asked Questions

View FAQ by Category:

Getting Vaccinated

Vaccine FAQs

  • Is there anyone who should not get the vaccine? - UPDATED

    The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are both contraindicated for people who have a severe allergic reaction (requiring medical attention) to the first COVID-19 shot in the series or who are allergic to any ingredient in the vaccine. (Vaccine ingredients are listed in each product’s Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.) Please also review the latest guidance from the CDC regarding allergic reactions.

    Participants in Phase III clinical trials for authorized COVID-19 vaccines should check with the study coordinator before getting the vaccine.

    There is currently no COVID-19 vaccine approved for individuals younger than 16. Research is continuing and options for people 15 and younger may be available at a later date.

    It is recommended that you wait two weeks to get the COVID-19 vaccine after being vaccinated against flu, shingles or other infectious disease. It also recommended you wait at least two weeks after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine before getting other vaccines.

    If you have any questions about your particular health situation and COVID-19 vaccines, please consult your health care provider.

    Last modified on 1/8/20

  • What are the side effects of the COVID vaccines?

    The side effect profile of the vaccines will released only after FDA and CDC approval. For information specific to current COVID vaccines, visit:

    As with other vaccines, the COVID vaccines are expected to produce local side effects such as pain and swelling at the site of injection, as well as possible fever and body aches.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • Will I get COVID from the vaccine?

    No. The COVID vaccines do not use live virus; therefore, you cannot get COVID illness from them. The vaccines will help prime your immune system to fight off future infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.

    Any mild symptoms experienced after the vaccine are due to the immune system adapting itself in response to the vaccine.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • Who should get the vaccine?

    Due to limited initial supplies, approved COVID vaccines will be administered according to priority groups defined by the state and federal governments. (Such groups might include frontline health care workers, first responders, essential workers and people at high risk of severe COVID disease.)

    As supplies increase, vaccination is recommended for anyone who meets the age requirements for a particular vaccine product and who does not have any medical contraindications. Widespread vaccination is the key to protecting the greatest number of people from COVID.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • I already had COVID and fully recovered. Should I get the vaccine?

    CDC will determine if prior COVID infection will affect the need to get the vaccine. At this point, prior COVID infection will not be an exclusion criterion for the COVID vaccine.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • I have had COVID and am experiencing long-term health effects. Should I get the vaccine?

    We are awaiting CDC recommendations on this situation.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • I’m not a UTMB employee or first responder. When would vaccine be available to me?

    The timing will depend on several factors, including:

    • Whether you have conditions that put you at high risk for having severe COVID disease
    • Whether your occupation places you in a higher-priority group than the general population
    • How quickly manufacturing ramps up to increase vaccine supply
    • How soon additional COVID vaccine options become available

    We encourage everyone to follow local announcements from your health care provider and/or public health department regarding availability of the vaccine for you. UTMB will provide COVID vaccine to patients residing in the communities we serve as soon as we have vaccinated the priority groups defined by state and federal authorities.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • How will I know if I’m defined as a high-risk patient for COVID, for purposes of vaccine priority?

    You may be at high risk for severe illness or death resulting from COVID if one or more of the following apply to you:

    • Cancer with ongoing treatment
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
    • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
    • Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Smoking
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
    • Those age 65 years and above

    Please consult with your health care provider or local public health department to determine how soon you should get the vaccine once it becomes available, based on your personal health status.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • How much will the vaccine cost me?

    The COVID vaccine should not result in any out-of-pocket cost to you. If you have insurance, your insurance company may be billed for administrative costs related to vaccination.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • I’m not in one of the first priority groups based on my job/my health status. How can I get the vaccine?

    As vaccine supplies increase, additional sites will likely open. Stay tuned for messages from UTMB, your local health district and/or other vaccine authorities regarding availability.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • Can I get the new vaccine if I’m part of an active COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial?

    Clinical trials participants should contact the research group for instructions. We expect that volunteers who participated in the COVID vaccine clinical trials and are confirmed to have received the placebo in the study will be able to obtain the COVID vaccine.

    Please be aware that study participants may assume they received the placebo but in fact received the actual vaccine. There may be safety concerns associated with receiving additional (extra) doses of COVID vaccine beyond the two-shot series, so make sure you have spoken to your study investigator prior to vaccination.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • Do I still have to wear a mask and socially distance after I get the vaccine?

    Yes! It will take time for the vaccine to reach all groups and we must continue to protect ourselves and others until we are assured of widespread immunity to COVID-19.

    Until that time, continue to prevent spread of the virus by:

    • Wearing a mask covering your mouth and nose
    • Maintaining a safe distance from others not in your household
    • Avoiding large groups
    • Practicing good hand hygiene frequently throughout your day
    • Staying home when you are sick

    Last modified on 12/2/20

About COVID-19 vaccine(s)

Vaccine FAQs

  • The clinical trials were completed so quickly. Were they really full trials?

    Yes. Phase III clinical trials involve a tremendous amount of administrative work, such as contracting, shipping, recruitment and enrollment of participants, data entry and data analysis.

    Under normal circumstances, the administrative work takes significant time to complete. But the COVID pandemic is the worst in over a century. Therefore, priorities have been shifted to ensure the staffing and other resources needed to complete the administrative tasks much more quickly than usual. This allowed the research to get underway that much faster, to determine safety and effectiveness. The federal government also provided significant funds and other support to remove any barriers.

    In addition, the Phase III trials for COVID vaccines thus far have used a higher number of study participants than usual to more quickly accumulate the needed number of naturally occurring cases of COVID infection among study volunteers to assess vaccine effectiveness.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • How do I know the vaccine is safe?

    Approved COVID vaccines have been through the full clinical trials process, including multi-site Phase III trials with tens of thousands of volunteer participants to determine safety and effectiveness. (UTMB was a site for both the Pfizer and Moderna Phase III clinical trials.) Researchers have not found significant adverse outcomes in the study participants who received the vaccines under review.

    In addition, the FDA reviews results of the Phase III trials before granting Emergency Use Authorization or other approvals. After FDA approval, the vaccines must be reviewed and approved by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices before they can be administered. We expect the vaccines to be approved by FDA and CDC only if they are effective and relatively safe.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

Vaccine safety and development

Vaccine FAQs

  • How do mRNA vaccines work? Is the technology proven?

    Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technology. For more information on how these new mRNA vaccines work and how they’ve been evaluated, visit the CDC website.

    Last modified on 12/8/20

  • What does the vaccine involve?

    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the most likely to gain approval initially. They each involve two shots, administered 21 or 28 days apart, respectively. Both shots in the series are necessary and must be from the same manufacturer.

    At this time, we do not know for certain whether booster shots will be required later. Research is continuing on this. We will communicate new information as it becomes available.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

  • What does “emergency use authorization” mean?

    Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authority allows the FDA to help strengthen the nation’s public health protections by facilitating the availability and use of medical countermeasures (such as vaccines or treatments) needed during public health emergencies. In the case of COVID vaccines becoming available, full Phase III clinical trials have been conducted to determine safety and effectiveness prior to manufacturers applying for an EUA.

    Last modified on 12/2/20

Have you thought about why you want to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Everyone at UTMB, from doctors and nurses to technicians, scientists, educators, support staff and administrators, have been working hard to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Now they have a new tool in their tool belt: a vaccine. We all have different reasons for getting the vaccine but we have the same goal - ending the pandemic.


Vaccine Smarts is written by Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences faculty members Drs. Megan Berman, an associate professor of internal medicine, and Richard Rupp, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

  • Which COVID-19 vaccine should you get?

    In front of the press, President-elect Joe Biden rolled up his sleeve for the Pfizer vaccine and Dr. Anthony Fauci for the Moderna vaccine. While some tried to read something into their choices, these vaccination events were likely arranged to instill public trust in both vaccines. Regardless, the public wants to know which vaccine is best.

COVID-19 General FAQs


  • What is COVID-19

    Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

    While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

    Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • How do I help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if I am sick?
    • Stay home unless you need medical care
    • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
    • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
    • Wear a mask
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes
    • Clean your hands often
    • Avoid sharing personal household items
    • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
    • Monitor your symptoms

    Last modified on 3/10/2020

  • Can I get tested for the coronavirus? What’s the process?

    Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, can schedule online or contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

    • Patients should follow recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
    • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY. To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission.
    • To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission.
    • You may also wish to check with your local county health officials for testing available through local government. In Galveston County, Health District testing information is online.

    Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

    Last modified on 10/16/2020

  • How long does the virus remain active on inanimate objects, such as clothing, currency, coins, and hard surfaces such as countertops and door handles?

    This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

    If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

    Last modified on 3/14/2020

  • How to protect yourself
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

    If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

    Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

    Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • How does COVID-19 spread?

    COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

    The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

    These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

    Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • Can COVID-19 spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects?

    It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

    How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

    The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

    Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

    Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
    • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
    • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

    Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • If someone has minor symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19, can they be isolated at home instead of a hospital?

    At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

    Last modified on 3/16/2020