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Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines for Employees


Answers to your frequently asked questions about distribution, logistics, safety and more. We will update these FAQs regularly as we learn more information.


Are UW Medicine patients eligible to receive the vaccine at this time?

Yes. Eligible UW Medicine patients and community members can make a vaccination appointment with UW Medicine.

Are employees required to be vaccinated?

UW Medicine will require all employees in our hospitals, clinics and other clinical environments to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to Friday, September 10.

This requirement is part of the UW’s broader campus policy for all faculty and other academic personnel, staff, trainees and student employees. This does not apply to School of Medicine non-clinical employees who will use the WorkDay attestation process. The more members of the UW Medicine community who are vaccinated, the safer it will be for our patients, staff and families, faculty, trainees and students.

Is there a cost for UW Medicine employees to get the vaccine?

No, vaccines are free to all UW Medicine employees if you are vaccinated at a UW Medicine employee health location.

If an employee is vaccinated through another location (private pharmacy such as Walgreens or with a UW provider as a patient) there may be a cost.

How will people be sure to get their second dose? Is timing essential?

If you are vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna, a second dose will be needed to be fully vaccinated. It is important that everyone receive their second dose. Please mark your calendar with your appointment time once you are scheduled. The timeline for the second dosing is:

  • Pfizer – 21 days with a four-day grace period
  • Moderna – 28 days with a four-day grace period

Should I go back to the same location where I received my first vaccine dose to get my second shot?

Yes, doses one and two are given at the same Employee Health location.

What vaccines are available at each of the vaccination sites?

UW Medicine is offering Pfizer vaccines at employee health vaccination sites. If Johnson & Johnson is needed or if a second Moderna dose is needed, please alert employee health at the time of scheduling.

Will I be able to choose which vaccine I get?

No, you will not be able to choose which vaccine you receive. Employee Health clinics are offering Pfizer. If another is needed, this should be discussed with Employee Health. We encourage everyone to take the vaccine that is available to them.

Can staff mix the doses and get one type of vaccine first followed by the other type of vaccine?

No, you must receive your second dose from the same manufacturer.

Our scheduling team and our vaccine administrators are aware of the required timing between doses for each type and are equipped to facilitate accordingly.

There may be unforeseen circumstances in which you may receive the second dose from the other two-dose vaccine. If you do, it will not be harmful, and you should not receive a third dose of either vaccine.

What are the side effects of the vaccines?

Side effects can include pain at the site of injection, headache, fever, fatigue, chills and muscle and joint pain, among other non-serious effects. Some people receiving the Moderna vaccine are reporting delayed allergic reactions at the injection site, occurring approximately 5-7 days after receiving the vaccine. These include redness, rash, swelling or other localized symptoms. Regardless of which vaccine you are receiving, please let your provider know if you suffer from severe allergic reactions and consider scheduling a day off after your vaccination in case you are feeling unwell.

Should I receive the vaccine if I’m in a medically high-risk group?

Many people in a high-risk group with comorbidities are likely to benefit from the vaccine and are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. If you have questions, you should contact your primary care provider to determine the best course of action.

If I tested positive for COVID-19, do I still need to get the vaccine?

Yes, you should still get a vaccine. However, we recommend that you wait until you are no longer under quarantine or isolation to avoid transmission of infection to others.

What if I have an adverse reaction to the vaccine?

If you have an adverse reaction, such as swelling of the face or mouth, or difficulty swallowing or breathing, you should call 911 immediately.

You may also register with v-safe, a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from the CDC may call to check on you. V-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose. Sign up with your smartphone’s browser at

Once I am vaccinated, what should I do if I am not feeling well?

Following your vaccination, it will be important to determine if you are having an expected normal reaction to the vaccine, or if you are experiencing symptoms that may be concerning for an active COVID-19 infection.

The symptoms (such as feeling tired, having a headache or sore muscles/joints) could be due to either the vaccine or due to COVID-19.

  • If the symptoms started after vaccination and improved within 24-48 hours, you can return to work.
  • If they persist or get worse, you should schedule a COVID-19 test and not go to work.
  • If you are unsure, you can call your employee health team.

What can I expect once I schedule my appointment?

It is critical that we have a sufficient workforce to provide care and serve our community. Please coordinate timing with your manager when scheduling an appointment. We recommend scheduling your vaccination appointments prior to scheduled days off, in case you are not feeling well after receiving the vaccine.

Vaccination will be available at the Employee Health clinics at UWMC Montlake, UWMC Northwest, Harborview Medical Center, and UW Neighborhood Clinics.

You will be scheduled in a 30-minute window to receive your vaccination. Because we are still physical distancing, it is important that you arrive for your vaccine as close to the time of your appointment as possible. You should bring your employee badge, and you will be asked to verify the information you had previously filled out online. After you receive your vaccination, you will be asked to remain at the vaccination station for a 15-minute observation period before leaving. We will provide you with an FAQ and information on side effects.

What if I forget my appointment details and need to confirm?

Please follow up with the Employee Health team you scheduled with if you need to confirm your appointment or make changes to your date/time.

  • Harborview:
  • UWMC Montlake:
  • UWMC Northwest:
  • UW Neighborhood Clinics:

Will the fact that I received a vaccine go into my medical records?

No. Employee Health will document that you received a vaccination just as they do with flu vaccines. If you wish to share this information with your healthcare provider, you should do that. We will provide you with proof-of-vaccination documentation. Please bring the vaccination card to your second appointment.

What if I decline to take the vaccine and then change my mind?

If you decline a vaccine and then at a later date decide you would like it, you will be able to schedule an appointment. Please go back to the same scheduling link and sign up.

What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding? Can I still get the vaccine?

Yes, pregnant and breastfeeding people can get the vaccine and have been specifically prioritized in Phase 1B tier 2 of the Washington DOH vaccine distribution plan. What we know is this:

  • None of the clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine included pregnant or breastfeeding patients.
  • The risk of maternal or fetal harm from an mRNA vaccine is unknown but thought to be low.
  • COVID-19 disease carries increased risk in pregnancy, particularly for patients with obesity or other medical conditions.

The UW Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology aligns with the guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccines provided by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which both advocate for vaccines being offered to pregnant and breastfeeding patients.

Please ask your prenatal care provider if you have additional questions not covered by these summaries.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. This is not a live vaccine and you cannot get COVID-19 from it. Some of the vaccine side effects are very similar to symptoms of COVID-19, but they should be mild and short in duration.

Once I am vaccinated, do I still need to mask and physical distance?

Yes, vaccinated individuals will need to continue to follow our infection prevention practices, including masking and physical distancing. It is important for all of us to continue to practice these measures when at work and out in the community until we learn more about the impact of vaccination on the transmission of COVID-19 and have a large enough portion of our community that is vaccinated.

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