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

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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 Staff will respond within 24 hours.


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

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.

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.

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.

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

If you are 65 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.

Local county health departments are hosting vaccination clinics as well. Many counties are only scheduling clinics for the number of vaccines received. 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.

Cayuga County Chenango County Cortland County Madison County Oneida County Onondaga County Oswego County Tompkins County Wayne County



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.

According to Governor Cuomo, distribution clinics must schedule a second appointment for you. The second dose is administered at the same place where you received your first dose. Your second dose 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.

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.

In Onondaga County, County Executive Ryan McMahon says you’ll receive a reminder and link from the county to make your second-dose appointment.

NewsChannel 9 is reaching out to surrounding Central New York counties to confirm that second dose appointments are created for those who receive the first vaccine. As answers come in, we will update this page.


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 6 months to get those in Phase 1 vaccinated.

On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the CDC advised states to begin vaccinating those 65 years and older, as well as people with underlying health conditions. New York State is allowing those 65 years and older to get the vaccine. Governor Cuomo said there needs to be clarification from the CDC on which underlying health conditions should be included.

Here’s a list of the next phases. The timing and the groups in each phase are subject to change.


  • 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


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


  • All other essential workers


  • Healthy adults and children

Vaccines in children: There is not enough data 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.


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​


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
  • 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.


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

A: 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).


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