Updated Information for Fully Vaccinated Travelers

Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants.

CDC recommends delaying international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

If you are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine:

  • You should continue to follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely and get tested 3-5 days after travel.
  • You do NOT need to get tested before leaving United States unless your destination requires it.
  • You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
  • Before you arrive in the United States:
    • All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.
  • After travel:
    • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel.
    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
    • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.
  • People are considered fully vaccinated:
    • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
    • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

This pertains to all travel, domestic and international, except for South Africa. If you have traveled there, please contact Environmental Health & Safety prior to returning to work at (210) 567-2955.

What do I do if I was unable to keep my original appointment to receive my first COVID-19 vaccine dose or if I am a new hire and would like to receive the vaccine?

Please email covid-19@uthscsa.edu to check on availability of the COVID-19 vaccine and to schedule a future vaccination appointment.

If I had an immediate allergic reaction to one of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, can’t I get the other?

No, both vaccines have PEG (so if you reacted to one then you will react to the other). We expect other vaccines to be available soon

What are immediate allergic vaccine reactions?

  • These are reactions that start within 4 hours of getting a vaccine; most reactions start within 30 minutes
  • They are caused by a reaction between a protein produced by the immune system (immunoglobulin) called IgE and something in the vaccine
  • Milder immediate allergic reactions can include many different symptoms:
    • nose: nasal congestion and runny nose
    • eye: itching and redness
    • skin: hives
    • soft tissue: swelling
    • lungs and airways: asthma
    • gastrointestinal: stomach pain, diarrhea
  • Sometimes the reaction is generalized in the body, leading to very low blood pressure, swelling of the tongue or throat, and difficulty breathing, which is called anaphylaxis

If you received the first vaccine and then got COVID-19 can you get the second vaccine?

Prior to getting the second vaccine after having COVID, please make sure you have been through the required isolation period. For mild cases this is 10 days, and for more severe cases, this is 20 days from onset of symptoms and are 24 hours symptom free.  Please discuss with your healthcare provider and if in agreement, come to your regularly scheduled second vaccine appointment. If your appointment is before you have completed isolation, you will need to reschedule your appointment by sending an email to covid-19@uthscsa.edu. Delaying the second dose until you have completed self-isolation will not decrease the efficacy of the vaccine. The CDC has recommended that the second dose can be administered up to 42 days after the first dose if needed. 

Will getting the COVID-19 vaccine cause me to get or “catch” the virus?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine does NOT contain the SARS-CoV02 virus and does NOT cause COVID-19 infection. Receiving the vaccine can cause some symptoms in some people including headache, fatigue, and fever within 72 hours of receiving the vaccine. These symptoms generally last less than 48 hours.

What if I get a fever after receiving the vaccine?

If you have fever (a temperature equal to or greater than 100.5 F) within 72 hours of receiving the vaccine, stay home. If your fever resolves within 48 hours, and you do not have other signs or symptoms of COVID-19 (such as cough, shortness of breath, new loss of smell or taste, new significant nasal congestion or sore throat), you may return to work.
If your fever does not resolve within 48 hours, or you have other symptoms listed above for COVID-19 infection, you should continue to stay home and get tested for COVID-19 since the coincidence of infection with COVID from another source is possible. For faculty, staff and students, call the Wellness 360 at 210-567-2788 to schedule testing.

What if I have had COVID-19? Do I still need to get the vaccine?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called “natural immunity” varies from person to person.  It is rare for someone who has had COVID-19 to get infected again. It also is uncommon for people who do get COVID-19 again to get it within 90 days of when they recovered from their first infection. You can get vaccine after you have recovered from your COVID-19 infection (as outlined in #3) or wait 90 days after infection if preferred. If you received convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibodies (bamlanivimab or casirivimab/imdevimab) for treatment of COVID-19, you should wait 90 days after the infusion to get vaccine.

I just received significant exposure to COVID-19. Should I get the vaccine?

It is recommended that you discuss your exposure with experts at Wellness 360 at 210-567-2788.  If you had a significant exposure, it is suggested that you wait until the end of your quarantine period to receive the vaccine.

Who will receive the vaccines first?

The COVID-19 vaccine is authorized by FDA and vaccine distribution is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Vaccination in the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program (Tier 1a) will be prioritized for both 1) health care personnel and 2) residents of long-term care facilities. Health care personnel are defined as paid and unpaid people serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. UT Health San Antonio has a tiered distribution system that will be executed using this prioritized system.

The State of Texas has prioritized the vaccination of Tier 1b persons. This includes persons 65 years of age or older, and those with underlying conditions that predispose to severe COVID-19 infection.

School and child care personnel are now eligible to be vaccinated. With the federal directive, the following education and child care personnel are now eligible to be vaccinated in Texas:

  • Those who work in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools;
  • Head Start and Early Head Start programs (including teachers, staff, and bus drivers); and
  • Those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers.

When will the vaccine be available to others?

The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as large quantities are available. The plan is to have several thousand vaccination providers available, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers. When a vaccine is authorized or approved in the United States, there may not be enough doses available for all adults. Supplies will increase over time, and all adults should be able to get vaccinated later in 2021. However, a COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed.

Learn more about Operation Warp Speed.

How many doses does the vaccine require?

The Pfizer vaccine, which is what UT Health San Antonio has received, has two doses. After the first dose, the second dose is administered 21 days later.

Should pregnant women take the vaccine?

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend pregnant women at risk be offered the vaccine. Individuals who are pregnant or lactating are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in accordance with the institutional tiered administration guidelines for vaccine administration. The decision to receive it is based on shared decision-making between the obstetric or primary care provider and the individual who is pregnant or lactating. The CDC does not recommend pregnancy testing before vaccination. Clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccination in individuals who are pregnant or lactating are underway and updated guidance will be provided as data emerges. A statement has been issued by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists.

Should lactating women take the vaccine?

Lactating women and their babies were not studied in the vaccine clinical trial. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says lactating women should be offered the vaccine. The decision to receive it is based on the individual’s decision between her and her child’s medical provider based on the individual’s exposure to COVID and other risks. A statement has been issued by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists.

Should people with auto-immune disorders take the vaccine?

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices suggests that individuals with autoimmune disorders should be offered the vaccine. Pro-inflammatory immune activity in people with autoimmune disorders has not really been seen in COVID disease and scientists do not expect it for the vaccine. Experts did not see it in trial studies, although the numbers of those with an autoimmune disorder were low. This will continue to be closely monitored as the vaccine is distributed. The decision to receive the vaccine is based on the individual’s decision after discussion with their medical provider based on the individual’s exposure to COVID and other risks.

Can an immunosuppressed person take the vaccine?

Yes. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that immunosuppressed persons get vaccinated, since they are at risk from COVID-19.  Immunosuppressed persons were not studied in the trial, so efficacy in this population is not known, but it is expected to provide some protection.

Should I receive the vaccine if I have allergies?

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that persons with allergies to components of the vaccine avoid it. The mRNA vaccines contains polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is used commonly in foods, beverages, toothpaste, laxatives, and some medicines, and some people may have sensitivity to this compound. Those with known PEG sensitivity should avoid the vaccine. Polysorbate is not in the mRNA vaccine but is a similar compound to PEG. Those with sensitivity to polysorbate should also avoid the mRNA vaccine.  The composition of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine is shown below:

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is a white to off-white, sterile, preservative-free, frozen suspension for intramuscular injection. The vaccine contains a nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein(s) of SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine also includes the following ingredients: lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2- hexyldecanoate), 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-distearoyl-sn- glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

Can I take an over-the-counter medication to alleviate symptoms once I have the vaccination?

It is fine to take antipyretics, or medication used to reduce fever, for post vaccination fever; however, the CDC does not recommend taking them ahead of time or at the time of the vaccine as a preventive measure since it is not known what effect this could have on immune response. (Examples of antipyretics: Aspirin, acetaminophen/paracetamol [Tylenol], ibuprofen and others.)

Where will the vaccines be given to UT Health faculty, staff and students?

The School of Nursing’s Hurd Auditorium provides ample space for the pre-scheduled vaccine distribution. The target is to inoculate up to 1,000 people per day using the tiered (or prioritized) distribution schedule.

Is there any data on how long immunity will last after the COVID-19 vaccine?

This is currently unknown. It is expected that the immunity will last at least several months. This information will be updated as more information is received.

Is the vaccine egg-based?

No.

I don’t want the vaccine. Am I required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory but encouraged.

Are there any known side effects? What are the side effects?

Receiving the vaccine can cause some symptoms in some people including headache, fatigue, muscle aches/pain, chills, and fever within 72 hours of receiving the vaccine. These symptoms are reported to last less than 48 hours.

If you have fever (a temperature equal to or greater than 100.5 F) within 72 hours of receiving the vaccine, stay home. If your fever resolves within 48 hours, and you do not have other signs or symptoms of COVID-19 (such as cough, shortness of breath, new loss of smell or taste, new significant nasal congestion or sore throat), you may return to work.

If your fever does not resolve within 48 hours, or you have other symptoms listed above for COVID-19 infection, you should continue to stay home and get tested for COVID-19 since the coincidence of infection with COVID from another source is possible. For faculty, staff and students, call Wellness 360 at 210-567-2788 to schedule testing.

Will there be a cost or copay for the vaccine?

While some other organizations may elect to assess a small provider fee for public distribution, there is no out-of-pocket expense for the vaccine. There is no cost for UT Health San Antonio recipients

What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?

We understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated once a COVID-19 vaccine is available in the United States. While these vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. Safety is a top priority, and there are many reasons to get vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While COVID-19 may cause mild disease in many, it causes very severe disease and death in others, and is known to cause long-term effects, even after mild or moderate disease. The benefits of getting vaccinated are minimizing the risk of severe disease due to COVID-19.

In addition, widespread transmission of virus increases the chances of mutation and new variants.  So, getting vaccine can help control transmission in the community and limit the number of variants.

When will UT Health San Antonio receive its vaccines?

UT Health San Antonio received its first shipment for front-line health care workers on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020.

How do I sign up to get the vaccine?

Recipients are prioritized based on CDC recommendations. San Antonio is now offering online vaccine scheduling to all members of our community who meet the current eligibility requirements.

If you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, schedule your COVID-19 vaccine here.

Can my family also get the vaccine?

If family members are Tier 1a or 1b, they are prioritized for vaccine. If they are UT Health patients, these are being vaccinated according to risk priority.  Metro Health and Wellmed are also offering vaccine to Tier 1a and 1b persons.

San Antonio is now offering online vaccine scheduling to all members of our community who meet the current eligibility requirements.

If you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, schedule your COVID-19 vaccine here.

Will I be required to get the vaccine only through UT Health San Antonio or can I get it from another health care provider once it is more widely distributed?

You are not required to get the vaccine, but we encourage those who are eligible now to receive it via UT Health San Antonio distribution as we are the first site in San Antonio to administer to our frontline health care workers.

How many doses does the vaccine require?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, has two doses. After the first dose, the second dose is administered 21 days later (Pfizer) or 28 days later (Moderna). CDC has recommended that the second dose can be administered up to 42 days after the first dose.

What ages can receive the vaccine?

Pfizer – 16 years of age and older. Moderna – 18 years of age and older.

When will the vaccine be administered to family members of UT Health San Antonio?

Everyone who meets the CDC and State’s current eligibility requirements to receive a COVID-19 vaccine may schedule their vaccine with UT Health San Antonio. If you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, schedule your COVID-19 vaccine here.

Are there any potential drug interactions? Should I bring my list of current medications so I may ask a pharmacist?

There are no known drug interactions. You may bring your list of current medications if you wish.

Are there different vaccines we can choose from, Pfizer or any other vaccines available?

UT Health San Antonio has received the Pfizer vaccine at this time. Clinical trials of other vaccines are ongoing and it is anticipated that other vaccines will be available in the coming months.

When will I be able to return to work if I have tested positive for COVID-19?

All UT Health San Antonio employees who have had a positive COVID-19 test will be required to have a physical examination by a Wellness 360 healthcare provider or their primary healthcare provider before returning to work.  Written documentation of the visit will be required.

Employees must make an appointment through Wellness 360 at 210-567-2788.

Prior to making an appointment, employees must meet the following requirements:

Employees ill with symptoms (of cough, fever, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) who have tested negative for COVID-19 must not return to work until they are fever free for 24 hours (temperature below 100.0 F or 37.7 C). They do not need clearance from Wellness 360.

Employees ill with symptoms (of cough, fever, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) who have NOT been tested for COVID-19 may not return to work until fever free for 24 hours, symptoms have improved, and are 10 days out from onset of the first symptom. In other words we must assume the employee had COVID-19. Health provider clearance will be required if employee requests return to work before these criteria have been met.

Testing is an important COVID-19 control measure, but the best measure is to stay home if you are sick!

Positive COVID-19 Test (Mild symptomatic illness):

  • At least 24 hours since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications
  • Symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath) have improved
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

Positive COVID-19 Test (Asymptomatic):

  • At least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive test and remained asymptomatic throughout the 10-day time period.
  • If symptoms develop, the individual must follow the positive COVID-19 test (symptomatic requirements).

Positive COVID-19 Test (Severe to critical illness or severely immunocompromised*):

  • At least 20 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
  • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications
  • Symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, etc.) have improved
    *These are reviewed on a case by case basis as they are determined by the treating provider and tailored to each individual and situation

Where can I find information about COVID-19 virus mRNA vaccines in patients with cancer?

To learn about COVID-19 vaccines in patients with cancer, visit our UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center COVID-19 FAQs page.

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