This page will be updated as information on the COVID-19 vaccines is released.
This guide is a compilation of resources gathered by NewsChannel 9. Sources include the Centers For Disease Control, New York State Department of Health, local governments, and Upstate University Hospital.
Use the links below to jump to a topic.
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.
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.
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.
The vaccine is available to you for free, however, you will still be asked to provide insurance information if you have health insurance.
You will also be asked to fill out a questionnaire prior to your appointment. This can be done online or before you receive your shot at the vaccination site. Data collected from the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form helps the state track demographic data such as occupation, race, and ethnicity.
Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive a vaccine.
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
Younger recipients for the vaccine can provide two of the following:
- A statement from another person
- Current mail
- School records
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 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 at a state-run site:
- 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
Local health departments are able to determine what form of proof they will accept at their clinics, however, with age eligibility opening to all adults, you can provide proof of your age and residency to qualify for a vaccine.
Where to make an appointment
FOR ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18: Currently, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine that has been authorized for use in people 16 and 17 years old. Because of refrigeration requirements for the vaccine, not all distribution sites will have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine available. Be sure to note which vaccine the clinic you are scheduling an appointment at has available.
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.
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
- SUNY Stony Brook SH Campus – 70 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton, NY
- Suffolk Community College Brentwood Campus – 502 Wicks Road, Brentwood, NY
- SUNY Old Westbury – Clark Center – Gate C, 223 Store Hill Road, Old Westbury, NY
- SUNY Orange – Diana Physical Education Center, 9 East Conkling Avenue, Middletown, NY
- Ulster County Fairgrounds – 249 Libertyville Road, New Paltz, NY
- Queensbury Site – 50 Gurney Lane, Queensbury, NY
- SUNY Oneonta – 108 Ravine Parkway, Oneonta, NY
- Corning Community College – Gymnasium and Wellness Education Center, 1 Academic Drive, Corning, NY
- Conference Center of Niagara Falls – 101 Old Falls Street, Niagara Falls, NY
- Bay Eden Senior Center, Bronx – 1220 East 229th St., Bronx, NY
To cancel your appointment at a state-run site, please call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
For more information on the vaccination clinic at the State Fairgrounds, click here to visit the NYS Fairgrounds FAQ page.
If you are 18 years or older, you can receive your shot at a local pharmacy. Click the logo below to be linked to appointments at a pharmacy near you. You may need to check back often as appointments will open as vaccines are distributed. If your preferred pharmacy offers alerts, it is best to sign up for these to stay informed when vaccine appointments become available.
Local county health departments are hosting vaccination clinics as well. 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.
For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a second shot 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.
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. Although vaccine distribution has been ramped up, the number of vaccines available may still be dwarfed by the number of people who want to receive the vaccine.
Current Distribution Phases
Please visit the vaccination clinic section of this guide for details on what’s needed as proof of eligibility.
Currently, Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is the only shot authorized in use for people 16 and 17 years old. It’s important that the site administering a vaccine to this age group has the Pfizer vaccine. Click here to find where to make an appointment.
Vaccines in children
Research and clinical trials are ongoing to determine the vaccines’ effectiveness in children. Pfizer announced Wednesday, March 30, 2021, that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12. Pfizer plans to submit a vaccination amendment for the 12 to 15 age group for FDA approval and predicts that group could be getting vaccinated by June.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been authorized for use in people 16 years and older.
Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines have only been authorized for people 18 and older.
Scroll to the next section to learn more about 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.
Three 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.
Two other large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials are in progress or being planned for COVID-19 vaccines in the United States:
- AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
- Novavax 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 fatigue
- Mild to moderate pain or muscle soreness at the injection site
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 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.
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.
Q: I’ve been vaccinated but I lost my vaccine card. What can I do?
A: The CDC recommends taking a photo of both sides of the card, in case you lose it.
But if you’ve already lost it take the following steps:
- Contact the site where you received your vaccine directly to access your vaccination record.
- If you can’t reach the vaccination provider, contact your state health department’s immunization information system. You can find state IIS info here.
- If you enrolled in v-safe or VaxText, you can access your vaccination information through those tools.
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: NewsChannel 9 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: When is it safe for me to visit a loved one after they’ve been fully vaccinated? Is it safe to visit if I’m not vaccinated?
A: Vaccines are not 100% effective, so although it is less likely, there is still a possibility of your loved one not being immune despite being vaccinated and therefore a chance of asymptomatic transmission between you and your loved one. The same applies if both parties are fully vaccinated. There is still a small chance of transmission. Measures to prevent transmission should be continued, like mask-wearing and social distancing.
Q: If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, is it safe for me to receive the vaccine?
A: The CDC recently (as of March 15, 2021) recommends the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for pregnant women.
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.
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.
Q: How do I cancel my appointment?
A: You may have instructions for cancelling your appointment in the confirmation email you receive. Usually, the best way to cancel an appointment is the way you’ve scheduled it, by contacting the site.
If you are scheduled at a state-run site, like the fairgrounds, you can also call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
Have a question? Ask NewsChannel 9 by filling out the form below and we’ll work to get you an answer.