Protect yourself from COVID-19
Vaccines now available to anyone age 5 or older
COVID-19 vaccine: Updates and FAQs
Find the latest updates and answers to frequently asked questions to help you understand the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. We'll be updating this page regularly, so check back for updates.
Updated May 24, 2022
General vaccine information:
When can I get the vaccine?
Here at Geisinger, vaccination is available to anyone age 5 or older.
Note: Anyone under 18 must have a parent or guardian with them for vaccination.
Scheduling for those who qualify
I’m eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. How can I schedule my vaccine?
You can schedule your COVID-19 vaccine, including your third dose or booster shot, through MyGeisinger.
How do I schedule my appointment in MyGeisinger?
Here’s how to get started, depending on which category you fall into.
If you need a vaccine:
- I have been cared for at Geisinger before (or I have Geisinger Health Plan insurance) and I have a medical record number (MRN) and a MyGeisinger account.
- I have not been cared for at Geisinger before, I don’t have Geisinger Health Plan insurance and I don’t have an MRN or a MyGeisinger account.
- To request an MRN and get access to MyGeisinger, create an account here.
If your child needs a vaccine:
- My child has a MyGeisinger account and I have access to it to schedule appointments for them.
- Great! Log into your account, select the child’s profile and schedule their appointment using the “COVID-19 Vaccine” option as the reason for the visit.
- I need to create an account for my child or get access to my child’s account.
If you can’t self-schedule through MyGeisinger, call 570-284-3657. However, due to high call volumes, using MyGeisinger is the fastest way to secure your appointment.
Where will I go to get my COVID-19 vaccination?
When you schedule your appointment, you’ll have the option to choose a location that’s convenient for you. If you’re scheduling your first dose, you’ll have to visit the same location for your second dose.
What do I need to bring with me to my vaccination appointment?
When you come to your appointment, be sure to bring identification that verifies you’re eligible (e.g., certificate, license — this won’t apply to everyone) and a valid government-issued ID (e.g. driver’s license, state ID, passport).
Anyone under 18 must have a parent or guardian with them for vaccination.
If you are receiving your second or third vaccine dose, be sure to bring your vaccine card to your appointment.
What if I don’t feel well on the day of my vaccination appointment?
If you have COVID symptoms on the day of your appointment, call 570-284-3657 to reschedule.
What if I miss my vaccination appointment?
If you miss your vaccine appointment, call 570-284-3657 for help.
What can I expect during my vaccination appointment?
Arrive no more than 5 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. If you have an appointment, you have a vaccine. There's no need to stand in line, as your dose will be reserved just for you — we won't run out.
Whether it’s your first, second, third or booster dose, you’ll receive information about the vaccine and its emergency use authorization (if applicable), potential side effects and prevention protocols after your vaccination. If it’s your first-dose appointment, we’ll also give you documentation that you received the vaccine — make sure you keep this.
We’ll schedule your second dose when you receive your first dose of the vaccine — this will be 21 to 42 days after your first dose. You’ll need to get your second dose at the same location you got your first dose. If you miss your second dose, you’ll need to restart the vaccination process again.
COVID vaccine: Third dose and booster shot information
What’s the difference between a third dose and a booster shot?
Both a third dose and a booster shot provide added protection against COVID; however, there’s a key difference between them.
- A third dose is given to people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. Their immune systems may not have built up enough protection with the first two doses of the vaccine.
- A booster shot is given to people several months after their initial vaccine series, which may include a third dose for immunocompromised people, to “boost” and maintain their immunity over time.
Am I eligible for a third dose? If so, when?
Anyone age 5+ who is moderately to severely immunocompromised and has had two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccines should have a third dose. An additional dose is also recommended for people 18+ who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, it should be either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
You’re eligible for a third — or additional — dose if you have received the Pfizer (age 5+), Moderna (age 18+) or Johnson & Johnson (age 18+) COVID vaccine and have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose steroids or other drugs that may suppress the immune response
A third/additional dose should be given no sooner than 28 days after the last dose in your primary series.
Am I eligible for a booster shot? If so, when?
For the most up-to-date information on who should get a booster shot and when, visit the CDC’s website.
How do I schedule my third dose or booster?
You can schedule your COVID-19 vaccine through MyGeisinger. If you don’t have a MyGeisinger account, you can call 570-284-3657.
For more information on how to set up a MyGeisinger account, read the “Scheduling for those who qualify” section on this page.
You can also check the PA DOH website or local pharmacies to see where vaccines are available elsewhere in your community.
Can I receive a third dose or booster shot at Geisinger if I’ve lost my vaccine card or if I’ve received my first two doses elsewhere?
If you were vaccinated at Geisinger and have misplaced your card, you can look up your vaccine information using MyGeisinger.
- Sign in to your MyGeisinger account or the MyChart mobile app.
- Select the “menu” icon (which looks like three horizontal bars).
- Navigate to the “My Record” section and select “COVID-19.”
- Your COVID-19 vaccination info will appear. You can show this at your third dose or booster shot appointment.
If you received your first two vaccine doses at another location, you can come to Geisinger for your third dose or booster shot. Just bring your vaccine card to your appointment.
What about the cost (and other helpful information)?
Is the COVID-19 vaccine free?
Geisinger will provide the vaccine to everyone with no out-of-pocket costs.
Will Geisinger Health Plan members have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine?
No. Geisinger Health Plan members will not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For the latest updates on coronavirus coverage, click here.
Will Geisinger be giving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?
We don’t anticipate receiving a supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the state.
Where can I get additional COVID-19 information?
Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center page here.
Is the vaccine safe and effective?
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protocols for vaccine development are designed to make sure that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Because vaccines are given to healthy people, they’re held to a higher standard for emergency use authorization (EUA) than other types of medication or therapy.
Full FDA approval comes after an emergency use authorization. In fact, the Comirnaty/Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved for people age 16 and older. And the Spikevax/Moderna vaccine has been fully approved for people age 18 and older.
We trust the accuracy and testing applied to the COVID-19 vaccine. While it’s still being reviewed for certain populations, the findings so far give us confidence in the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
What is an emergency use authorization? Is it the same as an FDA-approved vaccine?
An emergency use authorization (EUA) is different from full FDA approval. FDA approval means that a drug is effective based on substantial evidence and that its benefits outweigh any risks.
An EUA also ensures that benefits outweigh risks. It’s issued to give access to medical products or medications based on best available evidence when there are no adequate, approved or available options.
Several EUAs have been beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as those for monoclonal antibodies, remdesivir, convalescent plasma and testing technology. However, the EUA issued for the COVID-19 vaccines is one of the most scientifically valid we have seen throughout the pandemic.
The Comirnaty/Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA for use in those ages 16 and older. And the Spikevax/Moderna vaccine has been fully approved for those ages 18 and older.
What are the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Experts continue to study the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, but early research has not shown cause for concern.
What are the immediate side effects?
Pain at the injection site, headache, muscle aches, low-grade fever and nausea are common. The second dose is more likely to produce side effects than the first.
Side effects typically resolve within 24 to 48 hours.
What are the ingredients?
In the COVID-19 vaccines that we administer, the active ingredient is messenger RNA (mRNA), a genetic molecule that's delivered in tiny capsules called lipid nanoparticles that are suspended in saline (salt water).
What do we know about mRNA and its use in vaccines?
Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a genetic molecule that is the active ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine. The mRNA is synthetic, and not extracted from the actual COVID-19 virus.
These vaccines work by providing the genetic code for your cells to produce viral proteins. Once the proteins are produced, they trigger an immune response in your body so that you develop immunity against COVID-19.
Read more about mRNA and how it’s used in COVID vaccines.
I’m fully vaccinated. Do I need to worry about a breakthrough COVID infection?
It takes about 2 weeks after receiving your last required COVID-19 vaccine dose for your body to build up full immunity.
And studies have shown that after 6 months, the vaccine still protects you from severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19.
Scientists are continuing to study how long this immunity lasts. But so far breakthrough infections appear to be rare, and when they do occur, symptoms tend to be mild.
Are there any allergies that could react to the vaccine?
Currently, the EUA states that the vaccine should not be given to anyone with a known history of a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis.
If you have a history of severe allergic reactions, talk with your primary care provider before getting the vaccine.
Are there any conditions or medical issues that would keep me from getting the vaccine?
At the current emergency use stage, there is no evidence that the vaccine poses any risk for people with pre-existing conditions. However, it may be less effective for people who are immunocompromised.
Is the COVID vaccine safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding?
A pregnant or breastfeeding woman may choose to be vaccinated. In fact, people who are pregnant are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
There is no indication that the vaccine poses any risk to expectant or breastfeeding mothers.
Does the vaccine offer protection against the delta variant (and other COVID-19 variants)?
Studies have shown that the available COVID-19 vaccines are effective against some COVID variants, including delta.
What do I need to know about getting the vaccine?
How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will I need to get?
The number of doses you need depends on which vaccine you receive. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine, you need to have two doses of the same vaccine, given between 21 and 42 days apart. If you receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, only one dose is required.
If you’re immunocompromised, you should have an additional dose at least 28 days after your last required dose.
If you’re 5 years or older, you should receive a booster shot. And some people should have a second booster shot.
For the most up-to-date information on who should be boosted and when, visit the CDC’s website.
Can I choose which COVID-19 vaccine I receive?
All available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, so it doesn't matter which one you get — and you may not be able to choose. We’ll administer the vaccine we have available, which may vary by location. The most important thing is getting vaccinated.
Once I'm vaccinated, can I stop masking and physical distancing in public?
Visit the CDC to see the latest guidance for those who are fully vaccinated — you’re considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after receiving the last required dose of the COVID vaccine.
If you aren’t fully vaccinated yet, continue taking all precautions until you are.
Even if you’re fully vaccinated, there are certain places where you still need to wear a mask and continue taking precautions, like hospitals and healthcare settings.
Can people who have a positive COVID-19 test receive the vaccine?
Before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you should meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria for having recovered from COVID-19, meaning that you have been symptom-free for a safe period of time.
Can people who have symptoms of COVID-19 receive the vaccine?
No. If you have COVID-19 symptoms the day of your appointment, call your primary care provider for guidance and potential COVID-19 testing.
Do I need the vaccine if I’ve already recovered from COVID-19?
Yes. We’re still learning about how long naturally produced antibodies (from being sick) last and the level of immunity they provide, but we do know that it’s variable and decreases over time. The vaccine will give you additional immunity.
If you’ve recently had or currently have COVID-19, you'll need to wait at least 10 days after your symptoms started and 20 days if you were hospitalized from COVID-19 before receiving the vaccine.
Are there any side effects from the vaccine?
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No, it’s not possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
What can I expect? What’s a normal side effect?
Side effects to the vaccine typically occur between 24 and 48 hours after you receive the injection. Pain at the injection site, muscle pain, headache, fatigue and chills are all possible and normal side effects. Side effects are more likely with the second dose.
These side effects are an indication that your body is reacting properly to the vaccine.
What would be considered an adverse or severe reaction?
If you experience any severe COVID-19 symptoms or anything irregular, beyond the normal reaction symptoms listed above, contact your primary care provider
If you have life-threatening symptoms, head to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
Kids and the COVID-19 vaccine
The FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) authorized the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 15. And a lower dose of the vaccine has been approved for emergency use in children ages 5 to 11.
As a parent or legal guardian, you may have some questions. Here’s what you need to know:
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for kids?
Yes. The Pfizer vaccine was well studied before it was authorized for emergency use in children ages 12 to 15 in May. And the same level of testing was conducted before being authorized for use in children ages 5 to 11. These studies are similar to testing applied to other vaccines prior to approval.
To date, no significant safety concerns have been reported. Children will continue to be monitored, and data reviewed, after vaccination to understand side effects and their relationship to the COVID vaccine.
Do kids get a different dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine than adults?
Children and teens ages 12 to 15 receive the same vaccine and dosage (administered in two doses) as adults.
Children ages 5 to 11 receive a dose that contains one-third the amount of active ingredient compared to the adult dose. They’ll also receive two doses (given about 21 days apart). This lower dosage provides strong immunity, while minimizing potential side effects.
Your child’s second dose will be schedule at their first-dose appointment. It’s important to keep this appointment as two doses are required to receive maximum efficacy.
Can my child receive an additional dose or booster shot?
Children age 5+ who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a third dose of Pfizer 28 days after their initial two-shot series.
Children age 5 through 11 should have a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer vaccination series.
Will my child experience any side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?
In clinical trials, children were found to have similar side effects as adults, including pain at the injection site, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. Or your child may not have any side effects — but if they do, they should feel better within 24 to 48 hours.
Children ages 5 to 11 had a fever less often than those ages 12 to 15.
While severe allergic reactions are rare, your child will be monitored for at least 15 minutes after getting their vaccine. And children with a history of immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine, including a history of anaphylaxis, will be monitored for at least 30 minutes.
Can I give my child pain reliever before they get their shot to prevent side effects?
The CDC advises against giving your child pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, before getting the COVID-19 vaccine because it may reduce the immune response to the vaccine.
If your child develops a fever or pain after the vaccine, it’s safe to give a pain reliever to help manage those symptoms (unless they have a known allergy).
Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause myocarditis?
There has been a small number of children and adolescents age 12 and older (particularly young men) who have had mild heart inflammation, called myocarditis or pericarditis, after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
These reports are very rare, given the millions of COVID vaccine doses administered in children and adolescents. And of the confirmed cases, the vast majority completely recovered with monitoring, minor treatment and rest.
The CDC is actively monitoring these reports to understand their relationship to the COVID-19 vaccine. However, we do know that COVID-19 itself is shown to cause myocarditis and potentially more severe illness in young, healthy people that could lead to heart and other organ damage. The benefits of getting your child vaccinated far outweigh the risks.
If your child has symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath or feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart within a week after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, contact your primary care provider or pediatrician.
If kids aren’t at a high risk of getting severe COVID-19, why should I get my child vaccinated?
While children are less affected by COVID-19, they can (and do) get the virus — and can infect other more vulnerable family and community members. Getting your child vaccinated not only protects them, but it also protects those around them.
After COVID infection, some children have developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (or MIS-C), a rare, but potentially dangerous condition associated with COVID-19 that often leads to hospitalization and sometimes death.
Will the COVID vaccine protect my child from the delta variant (and other COVID variants)?
Studies have shown that the available COVID-19 vaccines are effective against some COVID variants, including delta.
Where will I go to get my child vaccinated?
One of our child-friendly COVID-19 vaccine centers, staffed by pediatricians and pediatric staff. You’ll get to choose which location you go to when scheduling your child’s appointment.
You’ll have to visit the same location for your child’s second dose, so be sure to pick one that’s convenient for you.
Can my child get the COVID-19 and other vaccines at the same time?
Yes. While we’re only giving the COVID-19 vaccine at our vaccine centers, you don’t have to wait to get their flu shot (or other vaccines).
How can I schedule my child’s COVID-19 vaccine appointment?
See "scheduling for those who qualify" above to learn how to schedule your child’s first-dose vaccine appointment in MyGeisinger.
Note: Anyone under 18 must have a parent or guardian with them for vaccination.
What do I do if my child is sick on the day of his or her appointment?
If your child is having symptoms of a cold, flu or COVID-19, and especially if they have a fever, call 570-284-3657 to reschedule their appointment.
If your child has confirmed COVID-19, you should wait at least 10 days after they tested positive (and they’re feeling better) to get them vaccinated.
Have additional concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine?
Talk with your child’s primary care doctor or pediatrician — they can help you make an informed decision. Call your pediatrician’s office or message them in MyGeisinger.