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State of Texas Vaccine Hub

UTHealth has been named a COVID-19 Vaccine Hub in Harris County by the Texas State Department of Health Services.

Register online for your COVID-19 vaccination

We appreciate your patience as we work through our process and continue to serve our community.

For almost 50 years, during every public health emergency, UTHealth has been here for our community. Learn more about our faculty, staff, and students on the front lines of UTHealth’s highly coordinated response to COVID-19.

Read More from the Front Lines of COVID-19

Photo of Victor Guaregua; Xiaoyi Yuan, PhD; and Yanyu Wang, PhD; wearing full PPE and standing inside the BSL-3 laboratory. (Photo by Dwight Andrews/UTHealth)

COVID-19 research sparks new collaboration, innovation

April 6, 2021 | Darla Brown

In vivo research with the highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus requires a specialized BSL-3 laboratory – defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a lab with a biosafety level for working with microbes either indigenous or exotic that may cause “serious or potentially lethal disease through respiratory transmission.”

Photo of a woman wearing a doctor's white coat, taking on the phone at a desk with a computer. (Photo by Getty Images)

Reaching the hard to reach: How one team is helping Houstonians get vaccinated

March 24, 2021 | Simone Sonnier, UT Physicians

or the last several months, the employees of the UT Physicians Healthcare Transformation Initiatives (HTI) team have dedicated their nights and weekends to the vaccination effort.

Kelasha “Keke” Spencer was all smiles after receiving her COVID-19 vaccination. (Photo by Kim Kham/UT Physicians)

UT Physicians team provides COVID-19 vaccinations for patients with disabilities

March 22, 2021 | Kim Kham, UT Physicians

When the opportunity was available to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to patients with disabilities on Saturday, Mar. 6, UT Physicians care providers worked together to offer a convenient drive-thru service at the vaccine hub of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). UT Physicians is the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

Photo of COVID-19 vaccine vials on a production line in a factory. (Photo by Getty Images)

More than 20% of Texans may have COVID-19 antibodies, serological assessment finds

March 19, 2021 | Wendi Hawthorne

Four months after launching the nation’s largest COVID-19 serological testing assessment, Texas CARES, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have compiled preliminary data estimating that 14% to 24% of Texans have COVID-19 antibodies.

About the Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorization for both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

UTHealth has assembled a working group who has been preparing for the availability of a limited supply of vaccines, and continues to develop short-term and multi-month plans to help facilitate the storage and distribution of the vaccine.

Below are frequently asked questions about the upcoming COVID-19 vaccines. Please return to this page often, as information is rapidly changing.

1.

What vaccines are available?

Currently, multiple vaccine candidates are going through clinical trials (the scientific process by which a vaccine is tested for effectiveness and safety) and regulatory review. At this time, three vaccine candidates have been awarded Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA. The Pfizer and Moderna candidates COVID-19 vaccines need two shots to be effective, while the Johnson & Johnson has been proven effective with one dose.

2.

Are the vaccines safe?

The FDA approval process, even in an EUA situation, prioritizes health and safety.

Individuals with known history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to these vaccines or to any component of these vaccines should not receive one.

Immunocompromised people, including individuals receiving immunosuppressant therapy, may have a diminished immune response.

Side effects reported in vaccine trials were common, but generally mild and self-limited and included: injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, injection site swelling, injection site redness, nausea, malaise (generally not feeling well), and lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes).

Fact sheets on the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available on the FDA website.

3.

Who is eligible to receive a vaccine through UTHealth and UT Physicians? *New*

As part of being named a COVID-19 Vaccine Hub in Harris County by the Texas State Department of Health Services, UTHealth is distributing the vaccine to the most vulnerable community members who qualify for Phase 1A/B according to federal and state guidelines. UTHealth is working diligently to schedule members of our community as quickly as possible, but please be aware we are limited by the number of vaccines received. Here is a quick look at the distribution plan in place:

  • Phase 1A focuses on front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
  • Phase 1B focuses on people 65 and older and those with a medical condition that puts them at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • School and Child Care Personnel Federal Directive
    • Those who work in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools (including teachers, staff, and bus drivers)
    • Head Start and Early Head Start programs (including teachers, staff, and bus drivers)
    • Those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers

Register to receive a vaccine through the UT Physicians website.

4. I am a UT Physicians patient. Can I receive a vaccine from my provider? *New*

For Phase 1A and Phase 1B patients who have seen a UT Physicians doctor in the last 18 months, you do not need to sign up on our registry. We are currently notifying patients via text message and email to schedule their vaccine. Invitations are based upon vaccine shipment numbers. For patients without text messaging capability or an email address on file, we will personally call you. UT Physicians clinics are experiencing a high number of calls regarding the vaccine. We ask that patients please wait for their invitation to schedule an appointment.

5. I am a member of the general public. How do I sign up to receive a vaccine through UTHealth and UT Physicians? *New*

For the general public, UTHealth has opened a registry for eligible Phase 1A and Phase 1B community members and school and child care personnel to register for the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note this is a registry, not a confirmed appointment. Once the registry spots are full each week, the registry will close. Please check back often as we update availability. Wait times for appointments could be weeks or months based off of vaccine availability. If you have an opportunity to receive the vaccine at your doctor’s office or another Hub Vaccine location, please do so.

Register to receive a vaccine through the UT Physicians website.

6.

Why is a second dose required for some COVID-19 vaccines and not others?

The clinical trials showed that a two-dose model was most effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 for the two mRNA vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer. These require two doses to be fully effective, with immune response showing about two weeks after the second dose.

For the Moderna vaccine, a second dose is required 28 days after the first dose. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose 21 days after the first. This will be scheduled at your first vaccine appointment.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses viral vector technology, and is a single dose vaccine. A review of the scientific data suggests it is effective about two weeks after injection. Even so, more studies are being conducted on the Janssen vaccine to see if a second dose would add further benefit.

7.

Will the vaccines be FDA-approved?

Yes, eventually. Though several steps have been taken to streamline the process and reduce regulatory obstacles, the underlying full approval process remains the same. Currently, the FDA has granted “Emergency Use Authorization” (EUA) for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. EUA occurs if there’s evidence that strongly suggests patients have benefitted from a treatment or test and the treatment is safe, but not all regulatory steps have been completed. Other vaccines that are in the pipeline likely will also be granted EUA before receiving full approval.

The FDA, state health departments, drug producers, and independent physicians and researchers will monitor and track a wide variety of data once the vaccine is available to continue to learn about the drugs’ safety and effectiveness.

8. Do COVID-19 vaccines give you COVID-19?

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the virus that causes COVID-19.

9.

What should you mention to your vaccine provider before you receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Tell your vaccination provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

  • Have any allergies
  • Have a fever
  • Have a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner
  • Are immunocompromised or are on a medicine that affects your immune system
  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Have received another COVID-19 vaccine
10. Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant or nursing?

When considering whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA recommends consulting with your primary care provider if you are pregnant or nursing.

11.

How long will my vaccine appointment take?

Once a vaccination appointment is made, please be sure to show up on time for the appointment. Doses are specifically scheduled to avoid waste, and the vaccine must be used within a specific timeframe.

The CDC recommends an observation period after receiving the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. For most people this will be 15 minutes after vaccine administration, and 30 minutes for people with a history of allergic reactions to vaccines.

12. If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that, regardless of a past COVID-19 infection, you get vaccinated, unless you have had this infection within the previous 10 days. In those cases, you should defer vaccination until fully recovered.

13. Can I get a vaccine if I participated in a vaccine clinical trial before?

Before deciding whether to receive the vaccine, we recommend you discuss it with the investigator for your clinical trial. 

14. How were the vaccines made available so quickly?  Due to the unprecedented need created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA and manufacturers, supported by government investment, took the unusual step of creating manufacturing capacity and distribution systems before the drugs were fully approved.
15. Do I need to wear a mask when I receive a COVID-19 vaccine? 

CDC recommends that during the pandemic people continue to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth, even if they have received the vaccine or have previously had COVID-19. People who have trouble breathing or who are unable to remove a mask without assistance should not wear a mask.

16. Will children be able to receive
the vaccine?

The FDA has authorized use of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in adults 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people aged 16 and older.

17. Will there be a choice in which vaccine a patient receives?  No.
18. Will the vaccine be required?

Under an EUA, the vaccine cannot be mandated. Based on currently available data on safety and efficacy, the clinical community is encouraging all residents be vaccinated. 

19. How long will it likely take to vaccinate our whole community?

This is difficult to answer at this time; the production schedule for the vaccines is not known and the distribution strategy nationally is still being developed. Another factor is the community's willingness or hesitancy to take the vaccine.

20. How long will immunity last?

This is a question that has not yet been resolved; the medical community and vaccine producers will continue to study effectiveness and immunity levels to better understand the long-term vaccination strategy.

21. Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I am fully vaccinated?  Yes. It will be important for everyone to continue wearing masks, washing their hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others while experts learn more about COVID-19 vaccines under real-life conditions.
22. When can we stop wearing masks, physical distancing, handwashing, etc.? Masking, physical distancing, handwashing, and other measures will remain critical as rolling vaccines occur and the medical community continues to learn more about the longevity and effectiveness of the immunization effort.
23. Should I take the vaccine now or wait until more people have received it to make sure it is safe?  Getting the vaccine is not mandatory, although we encourage you to get it as soon as it is offered to you. If you have questions, we recommend you discuss this further with your health care provider so that you can make the most informed decision.
24. Will I need to get vaccinated again in the future? As more data on its effectiveness and safety become available, we will be able to know whether additional doses will be needed.
25. What if I opt out of getting vaccinated? Getting vaccinated is strongly encouraged, but is not mandatory. If you decline the vaccine now, that doesn’t mean you can’t get it in the future. However, you may have to wait longer to get it.
26. Is there a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) for the new COVID-19 vaccine?

When a vaccine is authorized under an EUA, they do not have an official Vaccine Information Statement. However, the FDA, together with the manufacturer, will provide a fact sheet when you are vaccinated. This fact sheet is similar to a standard Vaccine Information Sheet. Fact sheets on the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available on the FDA website.

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Here for Our Community

UTHealth is committed to serving our community through education, research, and patient care. Working together, we will help each other, and our fellow citizens, through this pandemic.

UT Physicians

Visit with a primary or specialty care provider at one of our many locations or from the comfort of your home through our telehealth platform. Our clinics are open with expanded safety measures and ready to provide you with exceptional patient care. Telehealth visits are also available for any non-emergency and urgent care need.

Schedule your telehealth appointment:
https://www.utphysicians.com/telehealth

Schedule an appointment at one of our many locations:
https://www.utphysicians.com/patients/appointment/

UTHealth Team Designs Face Shields for COVID-19 Response

With cake collar material, a three-hole punch, a scrapbooking paper trimmer, and the drive to protect those on the front lines of health care, a team from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has designed a face shield that can be used by thousands of providers in the Texas Medical Center.

UTHealth In the Headlines

UTHealth has been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our experts have helped shape local and state responses to the pandemic, and our researchers have been conducting clinical trials and researching the mechanics of the virus.

For media inquiries, contact the Media Relations Hotline:
713-500-3030 or email Media.Relations@uth.tmc.edu.