COVID-19 Vaccine Guide

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Dashboards

This page will be updated as information on the COVID-19 vaccines is released.

This guide is a compilation of resources gathered by WETM 18 News and our news partners. Sources included the Centers For Disease Control, New York State Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Health, local governments, and Upstate University Hospital. While we attempt to make sure the information is the most accurate information, the information may change quickly, and is for informational purposes only and is not to be considered medical advice. Please contact your primary care physician for medical advice.

Use the links below to jump to a topic.

VACCINATION CLINICS: Where & how to make an appointment, what you need to bring

SECOND DOSE: How to make an appointment for the second dose of the vaccine

THE VACCINES: Learn more about the vaccines available.

ELIGIBILITY: Who can get the vaccine and when

SIDE EFFECTS: What side effects are possible and how to report them

WHO SHOULD NOT GET THE VACCINE: Information on ingredients and potential reactions to the vaccine

Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. we will stream our conversation with a local health expert and ask them questions such as the state of the virus in the Twin Tiers, what symptoms people should be monitoring, how certain tests work, and other pertinent questions from the community.

COVID-19 VACCINE HOTLINE

Chemung County COVID-19 Hotline

Chemung County has set up a COVID-19 hotline, which can be reached at (607)873-1813

Upstate Medical University COVID-19 Hotline

Upstate Medical University has launched a COVID-19 vaccine information hotline that will offer 24/7 access to Upstate staff who will field questions about vaccine availability. Staff can also answer commonly-asked questions about vaccine safety and New York State’s phased approach to vaccine distribution. This page also contains information on the vaccines. Click here to jump to that information.

315-464-3979, select option 2
You are also welcome to email questions to CovidVaccineInfo@Upstate.edu. Staff will respond within 24 hours.

New York State has also launched a hotline focused on vaccine-related fraud. Residents who suspect fraud in the vaccine distribution process can call 833-VAX-SCAM (833-829-7226) toll-free or email the state Department of Health at STOPVAXFRAUD@health.ny.gov. Hotline staff will route complaints to the appropriate investigative agencies to ensure New Yorkers are not being taken advantage of as the state works to vaccinate the entire eligible population.

VACCINATION CLINICS

when, where, and how to make an appointment

Providers are not able to give the COVID-19 vaccine to those who are not in current eligible groups. Click here for a list of eligibility or check the “Am I Eligible” app by clicking here.

Appointments

Appointments are necessary before receiving the shot. Walk-ins will be turned away due to the limited number of vaccines available.

What you’ll need

You will be asked to provide proof of identity, proof of residency and will be asked to fill out other personal information prior to receiving a vaccine.

Proof of Underlying Conditions

If you are receiving the vaccine because of an underlying condition you will need to provide one of the following to prove eligibility:

  • Doctor’s letter
  • Medical information that proves you have the condition
  • Or you can sign a certificate when you get the vaccine stating you have a condition that makes you eligible for the vaccine

It will be up to local health departments to determine which type of validation will be accepted at their vaccination sites. The State will then audit that system in conjunction with a federal data program called Tiberius to make sure those who are truly eligible are receiving the vaccine.

People who are not able to make appointments at a county site can still try to get a vaccination appointment at a state-run site with any of the above paperwork to prove eligibility.

As WETM 18 News gathers more information from each county on its requirements for underlying conditions, it will be posted below.

Bradford County

Currently, Bradford County is still working to vaccinate those in the 1A group.

Chemung County

At this time the Chemung County Health Department will require a signed attestation that you are eligible for the vaccine based on the criteria.

Schuyler County

Please wear a short-sleeve shirt if possible, or something with easy access to the upper arm. You should also bring the following items with you:

  • Bring your health insurance card, if available. Please note, the vaccine is provided at no cost to you.
  • Bring an ID such as your driver’s license.
  • Bring proof of eligibility
    1. If you are eligible based on employment, proof could include:
      • An employee ID card, a letter from an employer or affiliated organization, or a pay stub, depending on the specific priority status.
      • Proof of employment in New York State is required.
    2. If you are eligible due to having a qualifying health condition:

Steuben County

Print and bring registration confirmation

Print and bring the completedNYS COVID-19 Vaccine Form

Bring proof of eligibility. For example, a letter from your employer, an ID badge, a pay stub showing proof of employment

Tioga County PA

Currently, Tioga County is still working to vaccinate those in the 1A group.

Tioga County NY

We are working to confirm requirements

Tompkins County

Individuals with a comorbidity or underlying condition in Tompkins County can sign a self-attestation form to establish their eligibility. The Tompkins County Health Department says it will be prioritizing people who are 65+ and have an eligible underlying condition. Click here to fill out the form. Bring the signed paper with you when you confirm an appointment. Printed copies of the self-attestation form will also be made available at the vaccination site.

Proof of Eligibility Due to Employment

If you are eligible because of your work, here are several examples of proof to bring with you to your appointment.

  • an employee ID card or badge,
  • a letter from an employer or affiliated organization, or
  • a pay stub, depending on the specific priority status.
Proof of Eligibility Due to Age

If you are eligible due to age, you’ll need proof of age and residency. New York State accepts the following as proof of residency.

  • One of the following:
    • State or government-issued ID
    • Statement from landlord
    • Current rent receipt or lease
    • Mortgage records; or
  • Two of the following:
    • Statement from another person
    • Current mail
    • School records

For age, proof may include

  • Driver’s license or non-driver ID
  • Birth certificate issued by a state or local government
  • Current U.S passport or valid foreign passport
  • Permanent resident card
  • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
  • Life insurance policy with birthdate
  • Marriage certificate with birthdate

A questionnaire will also be given to you. Data collected from the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form helps the state track demographic data such as occupation, race, and ethnicity prior to vaccine administration. This information is critically important for tracking vaccination progress throughout the state and ensuring fair vaccine distributions in all regions.

Where to make an appointment

To make an appointment at a state-run distribution center, use the “Am I Eligible” app, or call the state’s hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829). The hotline is open every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. At this time, New York State is scheduling appointments into April. You may have difficulty scheduling an appointment.

The following are state-run distribution sites:

  • Aqueduct Racetrack – Racing Hall, 110-00 Rockaway Blvd, South Ozone Park, NY 11420
  • Dome Arena (DBA Roxbury Dome Partners LLC), 2695 East Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14467
  • Javits Center, 429 11th Avenue, New York, NY 10018
  • Jones Beach – Field 3, 1 Ocean Pkwy, Wantagh, NY 11793
  • Plattsburgh International Airport – Connecticut Building, 213 Connecticut Rd, Plattsburgh, NY 12903
  • State Fair Expo Center: NYS Fairgrounds, 581 State Fair Blvd Syracuse, NY 13209
  • SUNY Albany, 1400 Washington Ave Albany NY 12222
  • SUNY Binghamton, 10 Gannett Drive, Johnson City, NY 13790
  • SUNY at Buffalo South Campus – Harriman Hall, 3435 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14214
  • SUNY Polytechnic Institue – Wildcat Field House, 880 Wildcat Drive, Utica, NY, 13502
  • SUNY Potsdam Field House, 44 Pierrepont Ave, Potsdam, NY 13676
  • SUNY Stony Brook, 100 Nichols Rd, Stony Brook, NY 11794
  • Westchester County Center, 198 Central Avenue, White Plains, NY 10606

Vaccines provided for people 65+. Click the logo to schedule an appointment online. Click here sign up for Kinney’s alert messages.

Vaccinations will begin in select stores on Feb. 12 for eligible individuals based on state and jurisdiction guidelines, and may include healthcare workers, people ages 65 and older, and individuals with pre-existing conditions. Click the logo to be linked to Walgreens’ vaccination page.

Tops Pharmacies in Bath, Lansing, Olean, and select others are vaccinating individuals 65+. Click the logo to find an appointment online. Customers can also call 1-800-522-2522 for more information.

Wegmans locations in Corning, Hornell, Geneseo, Newark, Canandaigua, Johnson City, Geneva, and Auburn are offering the vaccine to those 65+ in New York. In Pennsylvania all Wegman’s Pharmacy locations are participating in the administration of the vaccine to those eligible. Click the logo to be linked to their site. Customers without internet access can call 1-800-207-6099, Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

32 CVS Pharmacies in New York State will begin offering the vaccine on February 12, with appointment scheduling beginning on February 11. A spokesperson for CVS says locations will change depending on vaccine availability. Pharmacies in the following counties are expected to receive some vaccine. Click the logo for more information. Those without internet access can call CVS at 800-746-7287.

  • Broome
  • Warren
  • Ulster
  • Schenectady
  • Cattaraugus
  • Rockland
  • Suffolk
  • Oneida
  • Delaware
  • Herkimer
  • Chautauqua
  • Nassau
  • Onondaga
  • Fulton
  • Otsego
  • Niagara
  • Genesee
  • Erie
  • Saratoga
  • Columbia
  • Rensselaer
  • Tioga
  • Westchester
  • Washington
  • Putnam
  • Monroe
  • Dutchess
  • Albany
  • Suffolk

Rite Aid’s website says it is receiving a limited vaccine supply and is currently vaccinating designated high-risk priority groups, first responders, teachers, essential workers, and those 65+ at select stores. For more information on Rite Aid’s vaccination program, click the logo. Those without internet access can call Rite Aid at 1-833-829-2626.

Local county health departments are hosting vaccination clinics as well. Many counties have been tasked with vaccinating essential workers and are only scheduling clinics as they receive vaccines. You’ll want to check back often as vaccine distribution happens on a weekly basis. Click your county icon below to be linked to the health department’s vaccine information page.

Bradford County
Steuben County
Chemung County
Tioga County NY
Potter County
Tioga County PA
Schuyler County
Tompkins County
Chemung County Waitlist for Residents 65 and Older without computer access.

Vaccination providers in Chemung County rely on allocations of COVID-19 vaccine from New York State. Approximately 40,000 residents (45% of the total population) of Chemung County are 65 and older. The pharmacies in Chemung County that administer the vaccine are currently unable to meet the demand.

The health department is working in collaboration with the Chemung County Office for the Aging to direct residents who are 65+ and do not have access to a computer to call (607)737-5530 to be placed on a vaccination clinic waitlist. Because there is not enough vaccine supply at this time, it is emphasized that this waitlist is not an appointment. It may be a significant amount of time before the health department is able to vaccinate residents on the waitlist. Individuals that are placed on the waitlist are encouraged to continue trying to obtain appointments through other vaccination providers.

Find a Vaccine Provider in Pennsylvania

THE SECOND DOSE

HOW AND WHEN THE SECOND DOSE IS RECEIVED

The vaccine is most effective with two doses. For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, it is recommended 21 days after the first shot. For Moderna’s vaccine, it is recommended 28 days later.

Your second dose of the vaccine is given to you at the same place you received your first dose. It also must be the same brand as your first. If you get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, your second vaccine needs to be a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. If your first vaccine is a Moderna vaccine, the second shot will need to be a Moderna vaccine.

Appointments for the second dose

NYS Distribution Sites

If you get your first dose from a state-run site, like the NYS Fairgrounds, your second appointment is automatically made for you. There is no need to make another appointment. New York State says if you receive your vaccine at one of their clinics, the second dose appointment is automatically scheduled in the state’s system. Auto-generated reminders of your appointment will be sent via text and email. The state says appointments will always be three weeks from the day of the first dose and will be scheduled for the same time as the first appointment.

Bradford County – Every COVID-19 vaccine recipient will receive
documentation at the time of vaccination that will include a date for the second dose if
appropriate.

Chemung County – Currently the second dose appointment is scheduled when you receive your first dose of the vaccine.

Schuyler County – Currently the second dose appointment is scheduled when you receive your first dose of the vaccine.

Steuben County – Currently the second does appointment is scheduled when you receive your firse dose of the vaccine.

Tioga County PA – Every COVID-19 vaccine recipient will receive
documentation at the time of vaccination that will include a date for the second dose if
appropriate.

Tompkins County – You will make your appointment for your second dose before you leave after receiving your first dose. Appointments are made 4 weeks after the first dose.

If you are a student and receive your first dose out of the county but want to receive the second dose in Tompkins County, you need to contact your school’s health center. However, there is still no guarantee that you’ll be able to receive your second dose in Tompkins County. You may have to return to the clinic you received your first dose.

WETM 18 News is reaching out to other surrounding counties in the Twin Tiers to confirm that second dose appointments are created for those who receive the first vaccine. As answers come in, we will update this page.

ELIGIBILITY

Who’s eligible to receive the vaccine

The federal government gives states an allotment of vaccines. New York then distributes their allotment to vaccination distribution sites across the state.

Government leaders ask for everyone to have patience with the vaccination process. The amount of vaccines available is dwarfed by the number of people eligible to receive the vaccine.

“At the end of the day, you only have 300,000 doses for a population of seven million,” said Governor Cuomo. “We need patience at an impatient time in history.”

The governor estimates that it could take more than 6 months to get those in Phase 1 vaccinated.

Current Distribution Phases

People with underlying conditions can begin making appointments for a vaccine at state-run sites on February 14, 2021. It is up to the local county governments to determine how, where, and when to begin vaccinations for this group of people. The list of underlying conditions is subject to change as additional scientific evidence is published and as New York State obtains and analyzes additional state-specific data.

Please visit the vaccination clinic section of this guide for details on what’s needed as proof of eligibility.

Potential Future Phases of Distribution

Below is a list of the next phases. The timing and the groups in each phase are subject to change.

PHASE 2:

  • Other essential frontline workers that regularly interact with the public (pharmacists, grocery store workers, etc.)
  • Essential workers to critical infrastructure
  • Other long-term care facility patients and those living in other congregate settings
  • Individuals in the general population deemed particularly high risk due to comorbidities and health conditions

PHASE 3:

  • Individuals under 65 with high-risk comorbidities and health conditions

PHASE 4:

  • All other essential workers

PHASE 5:

  • Healthy adults and children

Vaccines in children

There is not enough data yet to determine if the approved vaccines are safe and effective in children. COVID-19 trials are underway analyzing the effectiveness of the vaccine in those under the age of 17.

THE VACCINES

According to SUNY Upstate University Hospital’s Chief of Infectious Disease Dr. Stephen Thomas, normally vaccines prevent infection, sickness, and prevent transmission. But COVID-19 vaccine trials have only proven to prevent sickness so far. It is still important for people to wear masks, socially distance, and maintain proper hygiene.

Two vaccines have been authorized by the FDA and approved unanimously by the Clinical Advisory Task Force, a board of leading scientists, doctors, and health experts to advise New York State officials to determine the safety and use of the vaccine.

As of December 28, 2020, large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials are in progress or being planned for three other COVID-19 vaccines in the United States:

  • AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine
  • Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine
  • Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine​

SIDE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 VACCINE

Researchers continue to study the vaccines for their effectiveness and any side effects from the injection.

Currently in clinical trials, the most common side effects include:

  • Feeling fatigued
  • Mild to moderate pain or muscle soreness at the injection site
  • Fever

Side effects usually start a day or two after injection. They might feel like flu symptoms and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.

Mild over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help. You can also try applying a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the injection site. Using or exercising your arm may help to relieve pain in your arm as well. If you develop a fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.

Call your health care provider if you don’t feel better within two or three days.

Side effects were reported as being more common after receiving the second dose of both vaccines.

During clinical trials for both vaccines, most side effects were mild to moderate. However, a small number of people had severe side effects that affected their ability to do daily activities.

In the Pfizer/BioNTech trials, few people went to the hospital or died. However, the CDC says data suggests that people who got the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were less likely to have these more serious outcomes compared to people who got the saline placebo. Click here to learn more about how the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is tracked in the U.S.

The vaccines have been proven to stop symptoms of COVID-19. It is not yet known if the vaccine can prevent the spread of illness. Wearing masks, hand washing, and social distancing help lower your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. A vaccine will help your body fight the virus if you are exposed.

After receiving your vaccine

Register for v-safe, a smartphone-based tool that provides personalized health check-ins so you can quickly tell CDC if you experience any side effects.

WHO SHOULDN’T RECEIVE THE VACCINE?

According to the CDC the following people should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine,  you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—after getting the first dose of the vaccine, you should not get another dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
  • An immediate allergic reaction means a reaction within 4 hours of getting vaccinated, including symptoms such as hives, swelling, or wheezing (respiratory distress).
  • This includes allergic reactions to polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polysorbate. Polysorbate is not an ingredient in either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine but is closely related to PEG, which is in the vaccines. People who are allergic to PEG or polysorbate should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Click here for more information on the coronavirus vaccines, their ingredients, and reporting allergic reactions to the CDC.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

A: All vaccines being used have gone through studies to ensure they are as safe as possible. Clinical trials must prove vaccines meet criteria for safety and effectiveness before they can be approved for use. Click here to learn more about how agencies are ensuring the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.

Q: If I’ve already had COVID-19, do I need to get the vaccine?

A: Upstate University Hospital’s Chief of Infectious Disease, Dr. Stephen Thomas says yes. Clinical trials for the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines showed both as still being safe and effective for nearly 1,000 people who had previously tested positive for coronavirus. Doctors are still unsure of how long you are protected after being infected and, while it isn’t common, people can get infected with COVID-19 a second time.

Q: If I test positive for COVID-19, how long do I need to wait before receiving the vaccine?

A: 18 News is working to get an answer to this. But according to the Mayo Clinic, if you’ve had COVID-19, you might delay vaccination until 90 days after your diagnosis. That’s because reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after you are first infected.

Q: If I’ve received both doses of the vaccines, do I need to quarantine if I’m exposed to COVID?

A: The CDC updated its guidance on Thursday, February 11, 2021 saying a person who is fully vaccinated does not need to quarantine as long they meet prescribed criteria. Exposure has to take place within 3 months of being fully vaccinated and the person has to remain symptom-free. Full vaccination means that at least 2 full weeks have passed since the second dose was administered.

Q: If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, is it safe for me to receive the vaccine?

A: The World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement on Tuesday, January 26, stating it does not recommend pregnant women take the Moderna vaccine. “While pregnancy puts women at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, the use of this vaccine in pregnant women is currently not recommended, unless they are at risk of high exposure (e.g. health workers),” the statement says.

The WHO and CDC recommend that the vaccine be offered to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and in a group recommended for vaccination, such as healthcare workers. Women who receive it should not stop breastfeeding because of the vaccine.

The CDC recommends anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding to consult their doctor before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Data is not yet available on the safety of the vaccine in lactating women or the effects on breastfed infants. Click here for more considerations before receiving the vaccine.

Q: If I have an underlying health condition, is it safe for me to receive the vaccine?

A: As long as you have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. It is recommended those with certain underlying health conditions receive the vaccine because they are at an increased risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Click here for more considerations before receiving the vaccine.

Q: How long does it take for the vaccine to provide protection against the coronavirus?

A: According to Upstate University Hospital’s Chief of Infectious Disease, Dr. Stephen Thomas, the vaccines provide the optimum protection after receiving the second dose. If you receive the Moderna vaccine, protection is offered two weeks after the second dose. For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, protection is offered after one week of the second dose. However, Dr. Thomas says clinical trials do show up to 50% protection offered after receiving the first dose of the vaccine.

However, there’s still a lot of unknowns with the protections offered by the vaccine. It is unclear how long protection is offered from the vaccines, if they will protect against COVID-19 mutations, and if the vaccines stop those immunized from spreading the virus to others who are not vaccinated. Dr. Thomas says it is still important for everyone to wear masks, socially distance, and practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Q: Is it safe to donate blood after I receive the vaccine?

A: The Red Cross says it depends on the type of vaccine you receive.

There is no wait time for eligible donors if you are vaccinated with an inactivated or RNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. Both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are RNA-based.

Replication-defective virus COVID-19 vaccines, like the ones manufactured by AstraZeneca or Jenssen/J&J must wait 2 weeks before giving blood.

The Red Cross says regardless of the type of vaccine, donors must be symptom-free and feeling well at the time of the donation.

Before donating, you’ll need to provide proof of the type of vaccine you have received. When you receive your vaccine you should receive a card or printout indicating the type of vaccine. Bring that with you to your donation appointment. If you don’t have proof of the type of vaccine, you will need to wait 4 weeks before being eligible to donate.

Anyone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine is not eligible to donate convalescent plasma.

If you have further questions about your eligibility, please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Q: Can I take painkillers before or after I get the vaccine?

A: According to a doctor from the CDC, unless you routinely take them for a medical condition it is best to avoid painkillers before and after receiving the vaccine because it could interfere with the vaccine’s effectiveness. Learn more by clicking the link below.

ASK YOUR QUESTION

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