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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

NorthShore is in phase 2 and administering COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as we receive it.

View information on Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and vaccine consent documents.

COVID-19 Vaccination Expansion | COVID-19 Vaccination Scheduling | Vaccine FAQs | Additional Vaccine Options | NorthShore Virtual Townhall Meeting | Why I'm Vaccinating | COVID Community Checkup | Vaccine News | Social Media Posts

COVID-19 Vaccination Program

NorthShore is currently vaccinating healthcare workers and patients age 18 years and over as vaccine supply allows. We will have information about vaccinating children age 16-17 at a later date. At this time NorthShore is only administering Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. We have not administered any Johnson & Johnson doses. Please see the FAQ's below for more information about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

We continue to notify our NorthShore patients who are eligible by email/text with instructions to answer a few questions in advance of scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. If you have not set up your NorthShoreConnect patient portal account, please do so here and follow the online instructions.

If you are unable to sign up for NorthShoreConnect please contact our Covid-19 community helpline at 847.982.5000 to schedule an appointment.

For Swedish Hospital patients, please visit the Swedish Hospital COVID-19 Vaccine website for more information.

While awaiting your vaccination, please remember to stay safe and follow safety precautions, including wearing face masks, frequent hand washing, maintaining physical distance, and avoiding large gatherings.

COVID-19 Vaccination Scheduling

When you are able to schedule an appointment through NorthShoreConnect, we will present day/time options available in NorthShore’s regional COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

At this time our hospitals and physician offices are unable to accept phone calls to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Vaccine FAQs
General Vaccine and Vaccination Information

I have already received my first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at a non-NorthShore location but now, I do not have access to a 2nd dose appointment. Am I able to receive a 2nd dose at NorthShore?

NorthShore will have a limited number of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available for individuals. Please read the details below:

  • Please call 847.570.1029 to determine your eligibility for the 2nd dose.
  • Extra doses will be administered on Mondays at specific times.
  • NorthShore will know of available extra doses and contact potential recipients on the Friday beforehand.
  • Patients must be able to travel to the NorthShore Endocrinology Clinic, located at 9977 Woods Drive, Suite 300, Skokie, IL 60077.
  • Upon arrival for the 2nd dose appointment, individuals are required to show documentation of their 1st vaccination, including the date and vaccine type; otherwise, they will not receive the 2nd dose.
If I am currently eligible, should I contact my NorthShore physician to schedule a vaccine?

No. All vaccine clinic appointments must be scheduled via NorthShoreConnect and not through individual NorthShore and Swedish physician offices. If you are a current NorthShoreConnect patient, please follow these steps to ensure you are prepared.

Will NorthShore call me directly or charge me money to help me set up my NorthShoreConnect account?

Please know that NorthShore will never call and charge you money to help you sign-up for NorthShoreConnect; and we will never ask for remote access to your computer. If you receive such a call, please hang up because this is a scam.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. While the vaccine doesn’t contain either live or dead virus, you may develop “flu-like” symptoms such as tiredness, fevers or headaches after receiving one or both doses of the vaccine but these usually resolve within three days.

If someone has previously had COVID-19, should they get the vaccine?

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection is possible, people may be advised to get a vaccine even if they have been sick with the virus before. If you have had a previous COVID infection, you should wait at least 10 days since your symptom-onset or test date with resolving symptoms before receiving the vaccine.

If I currently have COVID-19, should I be vaccinated?

No. If you currently have a COVID-19 infection, you should wait at least 10 days since your symptom-onset or test date with resolving symptoms before receiving the vaccine.

If I’m considering pregnancy, am currently pregnant or breastfeeding should I get vaccinated?

The CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices has stated that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are eligible to receive the vaccine. If you have specific questions, please reach out to your healthcare provider.

I’ve heard the vaccine may cause infertility. Is that true?

This is a myth. There’s no data to suggest the COVID vaccine causes infertility. There also has been no changes to fertility rates in people who’ve had COVID and have recovered. A few other myths about the vaccine also are unfounded: The vaccine does not insert a “chip” or permanent marker in your genetic material. Both vaccines are mRNA and will naturally degrade over time like other mRNA your body makes. And the vaccine can’t give you COVID.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Information
Per an FDA and CDC joint statement, the IDPH, Cook County Health and Chicago Department of Health have paused the distribution of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine after reports of six people experiencing rare blood clots within two weeks of receiving the one-dose vaccine. This is a rapidly evolving situation and we expect more information from the CDC this week. In the meantime, we want to share some guidance with you all.

Has NorthShore administered the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?

No. We are only using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Please continue to encourage patients and team members to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. We have not received any Johnson and Johnson vaccine and will follow CDC guidance if we do receive it in the future.

How much of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been administered in the United States?

Over seven million doses have been administered in the United States.

How many people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed blood clots based on the reported cases?

Six women age 50 and under developed blood clots within two weeks of receiving the vaccine. One individual has died and another is critically ill.

Are these blood clots common?

No. The blood clot, called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, is a very rare clotting disorder that affects the head and brain. Additionally, the impacted patients also experienced thrombocytopenia or low levels of blood platelets.

Do we use the typical blood thinners to treat patients with this clotting disorder?

No. In these rare clotting cases, alternative blood thinners must be used. These include direct thrombin inhibitors or direct oral anticoagulants. The more common types of blood clots such as leg deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are typically treated with a blood thinner such as Heparin.

What are the symptoms patients should look out for within the first three weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Presentation can vary greatly depending on the location and extent of the thrombosis (blood clotting). People may experience the following symptoms:

  • Severe or persistent headache that comes on gradually but increases in intensity over days;
  • Facial weakness, blurred vision, deafness, vomiting, seizures or confusion;
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain;
  • Unusual skin bruising or pinpoint bleeding spots in the skin beyond the injection site.
What should I do if I have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the past three weeks?

Patients who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should contact their health care provider if they develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within 3 weeks of receiving the vaccine. There is no recommendation to pre-emptively evaluate patients with blood work or imaging studies at this time.

What should I do if I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over three weeks ago?

We have not had any clotting concerns reported beyond the two-week post vaccine time frame. You are still vaccinated and are receiving the protective benefits of the vaccine.

When will there be more information about the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

The CDC’s expert advisory panel will be meeting to discuss a more detailed clinical review of the cases, including other possible contributing factors (medications, smoking status, etc.) for the patients’ risk of clotting disorders.

Vaccine Information for Cancer/Immunocompromised Patients
Additional guidelines are provided and referenced from The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and The National Cancer Care Network (NCCN).

Will my chemotherapy or other medication which affects my immune system decrease my response to the COVID-19 vaccine? What about for bone marrow transplant patients?

Because any vaccine relies on the immune system to create the protection against the infection, it is possible that people who are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system may not have as good of a response to the COVID-19 vaccine. However, in the vaccine administered groups, participants who developed COVID-19 infection had much milder disease. Thus, it is possible that if you receive the vaccine, you may not be fully protected from infection; however, if you develop an infection it is likely to be much milder than without the vaccine. It is not specifically known if patients receiving/who have received a bone marrow transplant would have a different response, and this should be discussed with your transplant physician.

Should I receive the COVID-19 vaccine if I am undergoing treatment for cancer or another condition that may compromise my immune system?

We recommend that you receive the vaccine when it is available to you. Patients 18-64 years old with underlying health conditions, including cancer and other immunocompromised patients are in “Phase 1c”, which will come next. We do not know at this time when additional allotments will be made available for this group.
The only exceptions are:

  1. Those with contraindications unrelated to their cancer.
  2. Patients who have received a bone marrow transplant in the last 90 days or have a prolonged low blood count from treatment of diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma should check with their oncologist as a delay until recovery of low blood counts may be recommended.
  3. Patients scheduled for surgery within a few days.
Is it possible that my chemotherapy or other medication which affects my immune system will also increase my response to the COVID-19 vaccine and make me at risk for side effects?

This is probably not the case, although patients receiving checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy drugs and other medications that increase the immune system could theoretically have a greater reaction and greater risk of side effects, although this seems not to have been the case with influenza vaccines.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause any harmful effects on my cancer?

This is unknown, but experience with many other vaccines indicates this is quite unlikely. However, because there are significant risks to cancer patients with COVID-19 infection there is likely to be more benefit from the vaccine than any risk to making the cancer worse.

Is there anything we can learn from other vaccines such as the flu vaccine in patients with compromised immune systems?

Yes. Some of the questions above had been raised about the yearly influenza (flu) vaccines. We routinely recommend the flu vaccine to our patients with cancer who are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. Studies have shown that in cancer patients the flu vaccine is effective for helping to decrease the risk of getting the flu, and even if somewhat less effective, still gives some protection.

If I have the opportunity to get the vaccine while receiving cancer medicines such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, is there a best time to receive it?

We recommend you receive vaccine as soon as it is available to you. IF there are multiple options available to you, try to avoid receiving the vaccine when your blood counts may be low (such as 7-14 days after chemotherapy) to avoid a possible vaccine-associated fever at a time when blood counts are low, and avoid 1-2 days prior to coming to the clinic for a treatment or exam (to avoid being turned away for a vaccine associated fever).

Potential vaccine side effects and allergic reactions

What insights can you provide on any potential vaccine side effects for various populations—including the elderly and younger children?

We currently only have safety data from the short-term duration of the study trial. This means that we don’t know all of the potential side effects of the vaccine, particularly long-term side effects. We do know that the following have been reported as possible side effects which can last up to a week after receiving the vaccine:

  • Pain and redness at the injection site
  • Feeling tired and run down a day after receiving the vaccine
  • Headache, muscle aches, chills, joint pains, or fever
  • Possible allergic reaction in individuals with known allergies

These symptoms are a sign that your immune system is mounting a response to the vaccine which is good, and is to be expected in an immune response. Remember: these symptoms are expected side effects and aren’t allergies. You should complete the two-dose vaccination series.

What do we know about allergies to vaccines, and the COVID-19 vaccine in particular?

Anaphylaxis after vaccination can be seen with any vaccine or medication. However, it’s rare and often occurs in patients with no prior history of allergic reaction. The risk for anaphylaxis to vaccines has been reported to be approximately one in every million doses. To put this in perspective, the risk of anaphylaxis to penicillin is much higher—approximately one out of 2,000-10,000 courses of treatment.

What precautions are recommended?

Because rare cases of anaphylaxis to vaccines happen, it’s recommended that vaccines be administered in settings equipped with epinephrine and medical personnel trained to treat allergic reactions. With 21 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected to be distributed in the coming weeks, we may see some allergic reactions. That’s why a 15-minute post-observation period is recommended for everyone who is vaccinated at this time. Anyone with a history of anaphylaxis, the observation period will be extended to 30 minutes. Please keep in mind that this a new vaccine and a constantly evolving situation.

Are there other reactions that we have seen so far that I should look out for?

Some individuals experience light-headedness, flushing, or tingling which are not allergic symptoms and are more consistent with a vasovagal response or anxiety. These reactions aren’t allergies to the vaccine and individuals who experience them should receive the second vaccine dose.

What if I have a reaction that isn’t anaphylaxis? Could it be an allergy to the vaccine itself?

If you experience hives or itching, shortness of breath, runny nose, congestion, tongue or throat discomfort, these symptoms need to be further discussed with an allergist to determine the best next steps. If you experience any of these type of symptoms, we’ll refer you to NorthShore allergists so you can follow up within 7 days so any additional guidance regarding administration of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine can be incorporated into your care.

Who shouldn’t receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should NOT be given if you’re known to have anaphylactic reactions to polyethylene glycol—the active ingredient in Miralax or colonoscopy prep. If you’re allergic to any component of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you should NOT receive it. Click here to review a list of vaccine ingredients and get links to additional resources. If you’ve ever had a negative reaction to any vaccine or injectable therapy, extra caution should be taken—including a 30 minute monitoring after vaccination.

If I have an antibody deficiency or if I’m currently taking an oral steroids or a biologic such as Xolair, Fasenra, Nucala, Dupixent, or take allergy shots, can I receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not live vaccines and can be administered to these individuals. As with other vaccines, your underlying immune deficient or immune compromised state may prevent you from developing a strong immune response, so remember to mask up, wash up and back up!

Additional Vaccine Options

We encourage you to sign up at all area locations that offer vaccination to increase your chances of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

Please visit the Illinois Department of Public Health website for more information.

NorthShore Virtual Town Hall Meeting

On Tuesday, February 16th, NorthShore University HealthSystem held a virtual town hall meeting. Lakshmi Halasyamani, MD, Chief Medical Officer shared her information about how the COVID-19 vaccination works, statistics on how Illinois’s rollout is going and a Q and A session with questions from the community. Watch the archived live stream below.

Charlie Hildestad

Why I'm Vaccinating