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


What is the difference between a third dose and a booster?

Third doses refer to the additional dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine given to individuals with moderately to severely weakened immune systems. The CDC recommends individuals who meet this criteria receive a third dose at least 28 days after their second dose.

A booster refers to an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine given at least six months after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or at least two months after receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Based on current guidance from the CDC and FDA, individuals are eligible for a booster if they meet the following eligibility requirements:

If your initial vaccine series was Pfizer or Moderna

  1. It must be at least six months since you received the second dose of your two-dose vaccine series: and
  2. You must be either:
    • Age 65 and older; or
    • Residents of long-term care facilities; or
    • Ages 18-64 with underlying medical conditions or who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting, including healthcare workers

If your initial vaccine was Johnson & Johnson

  1. It must be at least two months since you received your vaccine; and
  2. You must be age 18 and older

Who is eligible to receive a third dose or booster?

At the current time, individuals who were initially vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and who have moderately to severely weakened immune systems are eligible to receive a third dose.

Individuals who completed their Pfizer vaccine series at least six months ago and who meet one of the following are currently eligible for a Pfizer booster:

  • Age 65 and older
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • Ages 18-64 with underlying medical conditions or who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting

What does it mean to be immunocompromised?

Being immunocompromised means that your immune system is weakened – by disease or medication. If you are unsure if you are immunocompromised, please contact your health care provider. Here is a link to the CDC definition of who is immunocompromised.

How do I schedule a third dose or booster?

Eligible employees may schedule a third dose or booster by visiting Appointments are available at UWMC – Montlake, UWMC – Northwest, Harborview Medical Center, Valley Medical Center and UW Medicine primary care clinics.

Are employees required to be vaccinated?

Yes. UW Medicine employees are required to be fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption by Oct. 18, 2021, under Governor Inslee’s vaccination . Fully vaccinated refers to two weeks after completing the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine or the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Boosters are not required to be fully vaccinated at this time.

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 do I prove that I’ve been vaccinated?

Most of the vaccinations given at one of the UW Medicine sites are recorded in the occupational health record. If you get an email or message asking about your vaccination status, please reply or connect with your employee health team to make sure we have your correct immunization information.

If you were vaccinated outside of UW Medicine, please go to: UW Medicine Employee Website for COVID-19 Vaccine Compliance for directions on how to proceed.

What if I’m working remotely? Do I still need to be vaccinated?

Yes. Vaccination for COVID-19 is a condition of employment at UW Medicine as of Oct. 18, 2021, for all employees regardless of work location.

Can I submit an exemption request to the vaccination requirement?

Yes, you can apply for an exemption but only if you have a verified medical reason or a sincerely held religious belief. Medical exemptions require a signed form from a licensed healthcare provider in Washington state (e.g., MD, DO, ND, PA, ARNP). Religious exemptions require the completion of our Religious Accommodation Request Form. Exemption requests are reviewed by a panel of employee health physicians and nurses, and religious requests are reviewed by Human Resources. Accommodation recommendations are dependent on what the employee’s work is and where it happens. The exemption forms and associated instructions can be found on the scheduling portal at or on the UW Return to on-site work page if you are a non-clinical employee in the School of Medicine.

Can I choose which vaccine I get to comply with the vaccination requirement?

As long as you submit proof of receiving any vaccine that is fully approved or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or World Health Organization, you will be in compliance with UW Medicine’s vaccination requirement. If you are vaccinated with employee health, we will try to accommodate your preference for vaccine type; however, we cannot guarantee a specific vaccine due to changing levels of supply.

Does the vaccination requirement apply to new hires?

Yes. New hires must be fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption as of Oct. 18, 2021. This requirement is being communicated to candidates during the hiring process.

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. 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.

Do I still need to be vaccinated if I’ve already had COVID-19 and can show I have antibodies against the virus?

If your infection was within 90 days of the Oct. 18, 2021, deadline to be fully vaccinated, you might qualify for a temporary medical accommodation. If it was not, however, you would need to be fully vaccinated to comply with the requirement. Studies have shown that individuals who have had COVID-19 and are subsequently vaccinated have greater protection against re-infection.

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

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.

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

Yes, pregnant and breastfeeding people should get the vaccine. COVID-19 disease carries increased risk in pregnancy, particularly for patients with obesity or other medical conditions. Both the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend vaccines for 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. UW Medicine is following Washington’s statewide universal indoor mask mandate. You will be expected to wear a mask indoors at all UW Medicine facilities and office spaces (unless alone in a closed office), and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible.