Registration for COVID-19 Vaccination
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We invite you to register for your COVID-19 vaccination.
If you prefer, you can call 844-774-8883.
As the region’s trusted health care provider, Penn State Health is working in accordance with state and federal agency guidelines to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, its distribution and more.
Penn State Health OnDemand Vaccine Advisor
The Penn State Health OnDemand Vaccine Advisor is a new, virtual service staffed by dedicated Penn State Health nurses to address questions about the COVID-19 vaccines currently on the market.
- Free service to the community
- Available Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Penn State Health nurses can answer questions about:
- The safety and efficacy of the various vaccines
- What you can expect after you receive a vaccine, including possible side effects
The Penn State Health OnDemand Vaccine Advisor complements the Penn State Health OnDemand virtual services, including COVID screenings and Urgent Care.
Medical experts from Penn State Health provide insight into vaccine development, safety, mRNA vaccines and the COVID vaccine.
Vaccines and safety
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
This FAQ is intended to supplement guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
FAQs on vaccine availability
How are vaccinations being prioritized?
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has established four phases for distribution and identified populations of focus. On March 31, the DOH announced an accelerated timetable for moving to Phases 1B, 1C and 2 of the state’s vaccine rollout plan. On April 12, it was announced that it had moved implementation of Phase 2 up by six days:
When can front-line workers and first responders get the vaccine?
On March 31, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) stated that first responders and some front-line workers who had been a part of Phase 1B (detailed above) can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, effective immediately. This group includes:
- Law enforcement: Police, sheriffs and deputies, constables, corrections officers and staff, as well as probation and parole staff
- Firefighters: Both career and volunteer firefighters
- Grocery store workers: All workers in supermarkets and grocery stores. Does not include super centers, convenience stores, general retail with some smaller footprint for food sales, beverage stores and farmer's markets.
- Food and agriculture workers: All food processing company employees, including meat, poultry and dairy processing, fresh fruit and vegetable packing operations, and food manufacturing; all farmworkers, farm operators, and farm managers—including at urban agriculture operations
How will Penn State Health offer vaccinations to the public?
Penn State Health has dedicated vaccination sites in Berks, , Cumberland and Dauphin counties:
- Berks County: 2400 Bernville Road, Reading
- Cumberland County: Holy Spirit Medical Center, 431 N. 21st St., Camp Hill
- Dauphin County: 30 E. Granada Ave. #200, Hershey
Additionally, it has partnered with other health systems to create a community vaccination site in Lancaster County, at the former Bon-Ton department store at Park City Center.
Any Pennsylvania resident who wants to be vaccinated at one of Penn State Health's dedicated vaccination sites may use our online or phone-based registration systems for direct appointment scheduling.
To register and schedule through our online platform, visit vaccine-scheduler.pennstatehealth.org. If you prefer, you can call 844-774-8883 to schedule your appointment. Due to high call volumes, you may experience a significant wait before you reach a scheduler. If the system becomes overwhelmed, you will get a busy signal.
To learn more about state and federal vaccine distribution plan recommendations, visit:
Will there be enough vaccine for everyone?
A limited supply of vaccine is available. This means that not everyone who has been eligible to receive the vaccine has been able to be vaccinated right away. Following a March 26 directive from the Department of Health, Penn State Health is scheduling appointments as far into the future as necessary to accommodate all who are in the current DOH-designated phase who wish to schedule their vaccination.
What happens if I can’t get my second dose three or four weeks after my first?
The CDC recommends that you get the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine 21 days after the first dose. If you receive Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends that you get the second dose of that 28 days after the first. However, with both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the CDC says there is a grace period for when the second doses may be given.
The second dose of either vaccine can be administered up to four days early — so 17 days after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 24 days after the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. There’s an even longer grace period for how late the vaccines’ second doses can be administered. The CDC states that if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, and a delay in vaccination is unavoidable, the second dose of either vaccine may be administered up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose.
What vaccines are available in the United States?
Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine obtained emergency use authorization on Dec. 11, 2020, and Moderna received EUA for its COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 18, 2020.
Johnson & Johnson’s Single-Shot Janssen COVID-19 vaccine obtained emergency use authorization on Feb. 27. On April 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended resuming administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Two weeks earlier, the agencies had advised a temporary pause pending reviews of six cases of an exceedingly rare adverse event involving blood clots. After careful and through investigation, the vaccine was deemed safe to administer with an appropriate warning. The CDC and FDA advise that women younger than 50 years be aware of the rare but increased risk of this adverse event and that there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available.
To date, more than 6.8 million people in the U.S. have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
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FAQs about your vaccination appointment
What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?
Please bring you photo ID (driver’s license or other form of photo ID) and insurance card along with you to your appointment. If you have Medicare, please bring your Medicare identification card. If you have Medicare Advantage, you should bring both your health insurance identification card and your Medicare identification card. If you registered for and scheduled your vaccination through Penn State Health for one of our dedicated vaccination sites, you were given an appointment confirmation number. You will be asked to provide that when you check in.
You should also wear your face mask properly, covering your nose and mouth, throughout the entire vaccination process.
What will check-in be like?
Depending upon where you are receiving your vaccination, you may have to wait in line, adhering to social distancing measures while you do so. When you arrive at the check-in area, you will provide your name and appointment confirmation number if applicable, and show your photo ID and insurance cards. There will be no cost to you to receive the vaccination.
At check-in, you will learn which vaccine you will receive and will be given a card that includes the name of the vaccine (i.e., Moderna), the batch number and that day’s date. When you return for your second dose, you will need to present the card so information about the second dose can be added. Keep the card in a safe location as it is proof that you have received your vaccination dose(s).
Can my 12 to 17-year-old child schedule an appointment at your vaccination sites?
Yes. Penn State Health is allocating doses of the Pfizer vaccine - the only vaccine to receive emergency use authorization for individuals ages 12 to 17 - to our dedicated vaccination sites in Hershey and Reading for eligible individuals who fall within this age group. These individuals or their parents can register for and schedule their vaccinations at vaccine-scheduler.pennstatehealth.org.
A parent or legal guardian must accompany their minor child to the vaccination appointment and stay with the child throughout the vaccination process.
Since January, Penn State Health had been reaching out to its most at-risk 16-and 17-year old patients to invite them to Penn State Health Children’s Hospital or special pop-up clinics to receive the Pfizer vaccine when supplies permitted.
How long will the appointment take?
Depending upon where and when you receive your vaccination, you may encounter traffic delays near the vaccination site and/or have to wait in line at check-in. When it is your turn, the check-in process will take approximately five to 10 minutes. The vaccination will take just a few minutes, but you will be asked to wait for 15 minutes after you are vaccinated to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction.
What side effects could I experience?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the most commonly reported side effects from the Pfizer vaccine are pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. These side effects typically last several days. The CDC states that the most commonly reported side effects from the Moderna vaccine, which also typically lasted several days, are pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection, nausea and vomiting, and fever. The most commonly reported side effects from the Johnson & Johnson single-dose Jansen COVID-19 vaccine are pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects occur within two days of receiving the vaccination, are mild to moderate in severity and last one to two days. On April 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended resuming administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Two weeks earlier, the agencies had advised a temporary pause pending reviews of six cases of an exceedingly rare adverse event involving blood clots. After careful and through investigation, the vaccine was deemed safe to administer with an appropriate warning.
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration encourage the public to report any side effects (called adverse events) they might experience to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The CDC has also implemented a new smartphone-based tool called v-safe to check on people’s health after they get a COVID-19 vaccine. When you receive your vaccine, you will also get a v-safe information sheet telling you how to enroll.
FAQs on vaccine costs
Is there a cost for the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine is free. Vaccine administration charges may be billed to insurance, but there will be no out-of-pocket costs to patients, regardless of coverage.
Will I need to provide payment to reserve my vaccination spot?
No. Be aware of a scam using the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine to get personal and financial information from people. No one calling or emailing patients legitimately to alert them of the availability of the vaccine will request credit card or banking information or personal details. Patients instead will be notified of their eligibility and then directed to call a number to schedule, or directed to a self-scheduling portal. They will be asked to present personal ID and insurance information at the time of their vaccination appointment.
Do not give out your personal information to unknown sources. Be suspicious of these potential fraudulent activities associated with the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Emails that ask you to download files or redirect to a login page asking for your credentials to access information.
- Websites that ask you to download files or ask for your credentials.
- Phone calls, emails, texts or websites that ask you to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine.
- Phone calls, emails, texts or websites that ask you to put your name on a vaccine waiting list or to get early access.
- Marketers offering to sell or ship you doses of the vaccine for payment.
Visit oig.hhs.gov/coronavirus/ to stay apprised of COVID-19 vaccine-related scams and what to do if you are a victim of one.
FAQs on vaccine safety
Are the vaccines safe?
Vaccine manufacturers are not permitted to apply for emergency use authorization until they can provide the required amount of safety data. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines met the FDA safety data milestones. However, you may have some side effects from vaccination, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. The most common side effects are sore arm, fatigue, headache, chills and fever. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.
The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Single-Shot Janssen COVID-19 vaccines are still being studied in clinical trials and thus rare or long term sided effects that have not been previously reported may occur.
You can find more detailed information on the vaccines:
What happens if I have a side effect from the vaccine?
Vaccines cause an immune response in the body which can sometimes cause flu-like symptoms such as body aches or even fever, chills and a headache. An immune response may be more likely to occur with the second dose of the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine. Vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine require only one dose. Administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine resumed April 25 following a two-week pause by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review six cases of an exceedingly rare adverse event involving blood clots. After careful and through investigation, the vaccine was deemed safe to administer with an appropriate warning.
Read the joint statement from the CDC and FDA recommending that the pause of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine be lifted.
Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration encourage the public to report possible side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) external icon. The CDC also has a new smartphone-based tool called v-safe to check in on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When you receive your vaccine, you will receive a v-safe information sheet telling you how to enroll in v-safe. The CDC offers guidance related to side effects here.
The vaccine was developed so quickly. Was it too rushed?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines made it through their Phase 3 clinical trials in record time - less than one year. But unlike other diseases, COVID had scientists from across the globe focused and collaborating toward an effective vaccine. With advances in genomic sequencing, researchers determined the viral sequence of SARS-CoV-2 within two weeks of the first reported illnesses in Wuhan, China.
Countries including the United States provided resources to public and private laboratories to develop vaccines across various platforms, accelerating vaccine development while maintaining standards for safety and efficacy.
Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID vaccines are the first messenger RNA - or mRNA - vaccine to be produced broadly. The technology, however, has been in development for years, as has research into other coronavirus vaccines.
The Single-Shot Janssen COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which received emergency use authorization on Feb. 27 for persons ages 18 and older, is an adenoviral DNA vaccine, administered by a single injection that uses a viral vector delivery system. Learn more about viral vector vaccines.
None of the vaccines can give someone COVID-19.
What is an emergency use authorization (EUA)?
An Emergency Use Authorization, or EUA, allows the use of unapproved medical products in response to a declared public health emergency where there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives. An EUA for a COVID-19 vaccine allows vaccine distribution in the U.S. without a full FDA approval.
FAQs about pregnancy and other preexisting conditions
I have a preexisting health condition. Is it safe for me to have the vaccine?
Studies to date indicate the COVID vaccines have high rates of effectiveness and safety among all age groups (above age 16) and demographics, with a very low rate of side effects even in people with a variety of pre-existing health conditions. Discuss your individual health history and concerns with your primary care provider to help you make an informed decision.
Can I get the COVID vaccine if I’m pregnant? If so, does it matter what trimester I’m in?
Pregnancy is a known risk factor for severe COVID-19. At a press briefing on April 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that it was recommending pregnant women, regardless of the trimester they are in, be vaccinated against COVID-19 with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. This recommendation followed preliminary findings published April 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine detailing that a review of more than 35,000 cases of pregnant women “did not show obvious safety signals among pregnant persons who received mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.” Previously, pregnant or nursing women were not excluded from receiving the vaccine, as the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that a pregnant or breastfeeding woman may choose to be vaccinated if they feel that their risk from COVID and the potential benefit of the vaccine outweigh the unknown risks during pregnancy or nursing.
Does the COVID vaccine represent any risk to fertility for women of child-bearing age?
The vaccine is not expected to have an effect on fertility based on how messenger RNA - or mRNA - vaccines work. The COVID vaccine is recommended for women of childbearing age who meet the criteria for vaccination. If a woman becomes pregnant after the first dose, the second dose is recommended to be given per the usual recommendations. According to the CDC, women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA and CDC have not provided specific information on this issue for the Single-Shot Janssen COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson yet.
Can breastfeeding women receive the vaccine?
Per the CDC, there are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or on the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production and excretion. mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. Women who are breastfeeding may choose to be vaccinated.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also provides guidance on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant and lactating individuals.
FAQs about effectiveness and continued safety
Will the vaccines work to stop COVID-19?
According to the FDA, Pfizer reports a 95% efficacy rate against COVID-19 across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics. The company observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age at 94%. COVID-19 vaccines are aimed at preventing clinical disease. We do not know whether they prevent transmission of the virus.
Moderna reported a 94.5% effective rate for its vaccine in its initial Phase 3 data.
The FDA reported that the Single-Shot Janssen COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson was approximately 67% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 occurring at least 14 days after vaccination and 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 occurring at least 28 days after vaccination. The effectiveness of the single-shot Janssen vaccine from Johnson & Johnson appears to be lower than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. However, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was tested in regions where some of the variants had become prominent, whereas the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had been tested prior to that time.
COVID-19 vaccines are aimed at preventing clinical disease. We do not know whether they prevent transmission of the virus.
For specific data, guidance, side effects and more, please see the FDA’s fact sheets on the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use authorization:
Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
In an ongoing clinical trial, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has been shown to prevent COVID-19 following two doses given three weeks apart. It may also prevent hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 but more data are needed. The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown. On Dec.12, after an evidence-based review of all available data, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issued an interim recommendation for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in persons ages 16 years old and older for the prevention of COVID-19.
Likewise, in its ongoing clinical trial, the Moderna vaccine has been shown to prevent COVID-19 following two doses given one month apart. It may also prevent hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 but more data are needed. The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown. On Dec. 18, after an evidence-based review of all available data, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issued an interim recommendation for use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in persons ages 18 years old and older for the prevention of COVID-19.
The FDA, which granted Johnson & Johnson’s Single-Shot Janssen COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization on Feb. 27 for persons ages 18 and older, reported that the single-dose vaccine was approximately 67% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 occurring at least 14 days after vaccination and 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 occurring at least 28 days after vaccination.
If I get the vaccine, can I still be infected? How long does the vaccine protect me?
Experts have yet to understand whether individuals can still be infected with SARS-CoV-2 and spread it to others even though the vaccine protects them from developing symptoms themselves. In addition, we do not know how long vaccine protection will last and whether individuals will be susceptible to COVID-19 in the future as immunity decreases.
If I already had COVID-19 do I need the vaccine?
Individuals should still be vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of whether they have been infected in the past.
After I get the vaccine, do I still have to follow safety protocols at work and in public?
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, such as:
- Covering your mouth and nose with a mask
- Washing hands often
- Staying at least 6 feet away from others
- Disinfecting surfaces
- Monitoring your own health
- Staying home when you are sick
FAQs about virus mutations
Should I be concerned about reported mutant strains of COVID in Pennsylvania and neighboring states?
Mutations in viruses occur constantly, eventually causing new variants of a virus. Influenza is an example of a virus that mutates easily, which is why flu vaccines are often updated from one season to the next.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the National SARS-CoV-2 Strain Surveillance (NS3) program in November 2020 to track how the COVID virus may be mutating. Since then, new variant strains have been confirmed across the globe - and in Pennsylvania.
Scientists are studying how the variant strains may differ from the original COVID-19 virus in regard to transmission, testing, severity of infection, treatment and immune protection from the vaccines currently available or from antibodies from a previous COVID infection. To date, these new variant strains appear to spread more easily and quickly - meaning that they can make more people sick.
The B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the United Kingdom in fall 2020, was recently reported to be associated with higher risk of death.
Will the currently available vaccines work with the variant strains of the virus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccinations with the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine recognize the current variants. In the case of variant B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom in fall 2020, the Pfizer vaccine has been reported to prevent symptomatic and asymptomatic infection in real-world conditions.
Against mutant strains of COVID, the COVID vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S. are effective at limiting the severity of illness in those who do become ill. Therefore, vaccination remains important to limit further spread of the mutant strains and to protect against severe illness.
While experts learn more about the impact of the variants, it is essential that even individuals who have been fully vaccinated continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, such as:
- Covering your mouth and nose with a mask
- Staying at least 6 feet away from others
- Avoiding gatherings, especially indoors
- Washing hands often
- Disinfecting surfaces frequently
- Monitoring your own health
- Staying home when you are sick