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COVID-19 Vaccination Information for Patients and the Public


COVID-19 Vaccine Information at a Glance:

Provider receiving a COVID-19 vaccine

Johns Hopkins Medicine is working with government officials and complying with jurisdictional directives in Maryland, Florida and Washington, D.C., to vaccinate our patients. Appointments are required for all vaccinations.

Be sure to check your local health agency for additional vaccine information: Maryland | Washington, D.C. | Florida

(Updated January 14, 2021)


Vaccine Distribution

Will Johns Hopkins Medicine distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to patients?

Johns Hopkins Medicine is working with government officials and complying with jurisdictional directives in Maryland, Florida and Washington, D.C., to vaccinate our patients. Appointments are required for all vaccinations.

Be sure to check your local health agency for additional vaccine information: Maryland | Washington, D.C. | Florida

Vials of the COVID-19 vaccine.Johns Hopkins Medicine received its initial doses of the recently authorized COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020.

How is Johns Hopkins Medicine determining who receives the COVID-19 vaccine?

The criteria for vaccine prioritization is determined by guidance from the CDC and from health departments where Johns Hopkins Medicine has care facilities (Maryland, Florida and Washington, D.C.).

We are currently offering authorized COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna to our front-line health care personnel, staff who interface with other staff who are clinically facing and personnel who support our clinical care mission. This vaccination plan follows guidance from the CDC and appropriate health agencies.

Learn more about vaccination plans for patients and the public.

Regarding vaccinations for our health care personnel, we have developed a framework based on guidance from the National Academies of Sciences, our experts, ethicists and community members. The framework is also based on our experience distributing scarce supplies of the swine flu vaccine several years ago.

Learn about the CDC’s work group for phased allocation of COVID-19 vaccine.

Can children receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two vaccines for distribution. Pfizer’s vaccine is suitable for people age 16 and older, and Moderna’s vaccine is for those age 18 and older.

No vaccine is authorized for children under the age of 16 at this time, but we will adjust our vaccine program to include younger teens and children when guidance from the CDC and appropriate health agencies authorizes us to do so. It may be late 2021, or even in 2022, before a vaccine for children under age 12 is available.

I am pregnant. Can I get an authorized COVID-19 vaccine?

Experts from the FDA and CDC believe these vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk for women who are pregnant. Limited data is available on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people who are pregnant, so it’s always a good idea to talk to your obstetrician about the risks and benefits.

Learn more about pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccines.

I am a new mother and am still breastfeeding my baby. Can I get the vaccine?

Although the COVID-19 vaccine has not been studied in women who are breastfeeding, it can be offered to them.

We recommend that you talk to your pediatrician about the risks and benefits.

The COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

The first COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out, and with that come many questions regarding the safety and efficacy of the various COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant and lactating women.

A provider receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins Medicine will continue to prioritize clinical and nonclinical staff members essential to delivering care and support services to patients with and without COVID-19.

When will I know if I can get a COVID-19 vaccine from Johns Hopkins Medicine?

Johns Hopkins Medicine will contact patients as we learn more about distribution plans and determine when we can begin vaccinating patients. This may include phone calls, emails and MyChart messages to patients. Check this web page for updates.

Vaccine Safety

Does Johns Hopkins Medicine think the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

Yes, based upon currently available information, we believe the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for the people covered under the initially limited FDA authorization. Here is why:

Our experts have followed developments of the vaccines very closely and we believe that proper procedures are being followed. Review this infographic from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) about how a new vaccine is developed, approved and manufactured.

We monitor those who are testing the vaccines and the regulatory agencies that will evaluate the vaccines for authorization or approval. Several points give us confidence that the proper procedures have been followed:

  • The FDA has been very clear about the conditions under which it would issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) or full approval for any COVID-19 vaccine candidate intended for public use. The FDA process is well established. Considerations are peer-reviewed by external expert panels. The FDA leadership has reaffirmed its commitment that scientific data drove and will continue to drive its deliberations and any decisions to grant emergency use authorization or approval.
  • Many manufacturers working on the vaccine have pledged to put public safety first and to be transparent in conveying their data to the public.
  • The National Academies of Sciences provided guidance on conditions required for appropriate vetting of vaccine candidates.

Learn more general information by reading Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?

How Does Johns Hopkins Medicine Decide Which Vaccines to Distribute?

Lisa Maragakis, senior director of Infection Prevention for Johns Hopkins Medicine, explains how decisions will be made on COVID-19 vaccine distribution.


Were enough different people tested with the authorized vaccines to be considered safe for everyone?

The clinical trials were designed to include significant numbers (about 25%) of underrepresented minorities, older age groups (about 25%) and people with conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart and respiratory conditions. The FDA and other reviewers closely consider the populations included in the trials for safety purposes.

Note: The trials did not include pregnant women or children. Trials with these groups are being conducted now.

Demographics of the COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

Sherita Golden, M.D., M.H.S., vice president and chief diversity officer for Johns Hopkins Medicine, discusses the demographic makeup of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trials.


Are there side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines?

Vaccine developers report side effects that include pain at the injection site, fever, muscle aches, fatigue and headaches, mostly lasting about a day or two. If symptoms persist, you should call your doctor. Although these side effects may sound unpleasant, they are actually a sign that the vaccine is working.

If you have allergies, especially severe ones that require you to carry an EpiPen, discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with your doctor, who can assess your risk and provide more information on if and how you can get vaccinated safely.

The CDC says people with allergies to certain foods, insects, latex and other common allergens can have the COVID-19 vaccine. Those with a history of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to injectables or other vaccines should discuss the vaccination with their doctor, who can evaluate the person and assess their risk. According to the CDC, at this time, anyone who has a severe allergy (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ingredients should not receive this vaccine.

Does Johns Hopkins Medicine recommend I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

You alone make the decision about whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine. We encourage you to talk to your primary care doctor and review our resources provided here, as well as resources from other health care organizations. At Johns Hopkins Medicine, we will continue to provide science-based, unbiased information so you can make an informed decision.

We are initially offering the vaccine to our health care personnel and others (based on a priority order established by the CDC).

Considering the impact on lives, the large number of hospitalizations and deaths, and high number of people with remaining long-term health issues after they recover from COVID-19, we believe the risks of vaccination are small compared with the large individual and societal benefit of getting the vaccination and preventing cases of COVID-19.

Comparing Vaccines

Which COVID-19 vaccine should I get? Can I choose which one I want?

When you become eligible to receive the vaccine, we will offer whichever vaccines we receive from the federal government.

Johns Hopkins Medicine will only distribute FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines that are deemed safe and effective by federal and state health departments and our own experts.

Please remember that the COVID-19 vaccines currently available require two doses administered three to four weeks apart. Your second dose must be the same type of vaccine as the first one.

Are the first two authorized COVID-19 vaccines the same?

The first two coronavirus vaccines authorized by the FDA come from two different companies: Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The two vaccines are equivalent in protecting against COVID-19: Both Pfizer and Moderna report that their vaccines showed approximately 95% efficacy at preventing symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including severe disease.

There are differences in how the two vaccines are handled:

  • The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored and shipped at -94° F while the Moderna vaccine can be kept at -4° F.
  • Both COVID-19 vaccines require two separate shots: a priming shot followed by a booster. The booster vaccine in the Pfizer version is given three weeks after the first. For the Moderna vaccine, the booster is given four weeks after the first.

Will there be a cost for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC explains that vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccine providers can charge administration fees for giving the vaccine. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.

More information about COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines can be found by viewing:

Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccination (CDC)

The Journey of a Vaccine (NIH)

Vaccines (Johns Hopkins University)

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