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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

UPMC Health Plan is actively monitoring COVID-19 vaccine information. This is a quickly changing situation, and we are here to keep you up to date on what you need to know.

We are in this together!

Right now, getting your COVID-19 vaccine or ensuring your loved ones get it is at the top of your mind. Keeping you safe and healthy is at the top of ours.

Vaccine distribution across the United States is not yet where it needs to be to get vaccines into the arms of all who want them today. There will be enough vaccines in the future. UPMC Health Plan is working closely with its parent company, UPMC, as well as state and federal government to make more vaccines available to the public as quickly as possible.

This is a rapidly changing situation, and we know that you want and need information. We encourage you to use the trusted resources we have provided on this page as you read online about the vaccine.

While this is a unique and challenging time for all of us, please know that UPMC Health Plan is working hard on behalf of all our members to keep them safe and healthy while developing tools and programs to help locate available vaccines.

Register for a COVID-19 vaccine from UPMC

Helpful resources

Information from UPMC

Information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

COVID-19 vaccine FAQ

Jump to a section:

Coverage

Is the COVID-19 vaccine covered by UPMC Health Plan? Is it covered at no cost?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine is covered no matter where you are and no matter where you go in the United States.*

Phases/Groups

Which phase am I in?

Phase 1A
Residents of long-term care homes, health care workers, people ages 65 and older, and people ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions

Phase 1B
First responders, workers in congregate care settings not included in Phase 1A, and essential workers in certain industries and/or jobs

Phase 1C
Essential workers in certain industries and/or jobs

Phase 2
All individuals not previously covered

Visit the PA Department of Health website for more in-depth descriptions.

The current vaccines are not approved for children under the age of 16. The CDC outlines pregnancy as a high-risk medical condition, which is in Phase 1A. If you are pregnant, check with your doctor about whether the vaccine is right for you.

Phase descriptions are current as of January 20, 2021 and are subject to change based on PA Department of Health guidance.

I’m a Veteran. Where can I get my vaccine?
Pennsylvania is fortunate to have excellent hospitals and facilities available for our Veterans. While UPMC Health Plan’s no cost coverage applies no matter where in the U.S. you receive your vaccine, Veterans may have special opportunities to receive a vaccine from the VA System or facility in their area. We encourage you to visit the VA website to find out more about getting a vaccine from the VA.

I am a direct caregiver for a Community HealthChoices (CHC) participant, when can I get this vaccine?
As a direct care worker for a CHC Participant you should be considered “healthcare personnel” and prioritized in Phase 1A to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At some community vaccination sites you may be asked to explain your healthcare role before receiving the vaccine.

I have heard about changes to the federal government’s plan for distribution. How does this impact the phases in Pennsylvania?
The federal government, working primarily through the CDC, issues recommendations for state distributions of the vaccine. Each state is ultimately responsible for its own distribution plan. Pennsylvania has made a number of updates to its vaccination plan and has already said that more updates are likely as additional information or guidance is available from the federal government. The most current vaccination plan for Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Vaccination Delays

Why is it taking so long?
UPMC is working closely with the state to get more vaccines and we know that many of our network providers and pharmacies are preparing for expanded distribution. We are hopeful that vaccines will soon be available to the public at hospitals, pharmacies, and community sites. We know our members are eager to get the vaccine. Our goal is to help, and we will share more information as soon as it is available.

Until very recently, the only available COVID-19 vaccines had very specific criteria for deep cold storage, transportation, and tracking, which make the process of delivering these vaccines much more complicated than other vaccines (e.g., shingles, flu). Because of limited national supplies and the complexities of distribution, making the vaccine available for all who want it has taken longer than many had hoped. Recently, however, the FDA approved a new single-dose vaccine that does not require deep cold storage, which will make distribution and scheduling for vaccinations much easier. Combined with the earlier two-dose vaccines, it should become much easier to get vaccines to all who want them very soon.

Availability

I found a site on the Pennsylvania Department of Health map that says vaccines are available.
Unfortunately, in many cases, showing availability of vaccine on the Pennsylvania Department of Health map does not actually mean that a site or provider is currently able to take vaccination appointments. In other situations, a vaccination site may have had a small surplus of doses to distribute even though they cannot regularly accept a large number of vaccination appointments. This may be because they have run out of doses or because any appointments they do have are currently full. Even when appointments are available, it is common to see only a small number of slots and for those slots to rapidly close. Vaccine supplies are still limited at the federal and state level so many sites and providers are able to schedule only intermittently when they actually have unused doses in stock.

Safety

Is the vaccine safe? Does UPMC recommend that everyone get the vaccine?
Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect yourself and those around you from serious illnesses. Like all vaccines in the United States before being made available, the COVID-19 vaccine(s) underwent clinical trials and scientific evaluation that includes multiple levels of review for safety and effectiveness. This process is administered by the FDA and the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

If you have questions about whether the COVID-19 or any vaccine is recommended for you, you should talk to your doctor.

We strongly believe in vaccination and the more people who are vaccinated the better protected are our loved ones and communities. Because the state is distributing vaccines to multiple providers and pharmacies, there may be providers and pharmacies in your area that have vaccines available. For the health and safety of all, we encourage you to get vaccinated anywhere you are able. Your vaccine will be at no cost to you wherever you receive it.

If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose vaccine, you will need to receive your second dose from the provider who administered the first, and both doses should be the same brand.

Appointments/Scheduling

Can you schedule an appointment for me at UPMC?
Because of limited vaccine availability, UPMC is not yet accepting general appointments for vaccination. We are hopeful that once vaccine supply increases we will be able to help schedule UPMC appointments for anyone who wants one. If this changes in the future, we will inform our members.

If you meet the PA Department of Health’s Phase 1A criteria and you wish to receive a vaccination, we encourage you to register for a COVID-19 vaccine from UPMC. Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email to the address you provided, as well as ongoing updates on vaccine availability and distribution.

If you have limited access to online services or technology – like a computer or smartphone – or you need assistance in registering, you can call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) (TTY: 711) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week. An operator will register you over the phone, and then you will be contacted about scheduling an appointment when vaccine is available. We expect high call volume on this line. To keep this option open to those who need it most, please use the online registration process if you can.

My local provider/pharmacy has the vaccine available! Can you schedule this for me?
Because most providers and pharmacies do not give UPMC Health Plan access to their internal scheduling system, we are unable to schedule these appointments directly. We are working closely with our provider network and community partners to identify when vaccination appointments will be available and, when possible, we are conducting outreach to our most at-risk members to facilitate scheduling. If you have an opportunity to receive a vaccine in the community, we encourage you to try scheduling online or calling the provider directly. As we identify additional opportunities to help with scheduling, we will let our members know.

What is UPMC doing to help?

UPMC and UPMC Health Plan are committed to protecting our members, patients, and communities against COVID-19 illness through quick creation of vaccination clinics and continued support for additional vaccine supplies. As the Commonwealth’s largest health care organization, UPMC is uniquely positioned to create a fair process that helps our most vulnerable patients and neighbors receive the vaccine. Our approach will guarantee that each person who makes an appointment with us will receive a vaccine as scheduled. For the most up-to-date information, visit upmc.com/covidvaccine.

UPMC COVID-19 Vaccine Registration
If you meet the PA Department of Health’s Phase 1A criteria and you wish to receive a vaccination, you can register for a COVID-19 vaccine from UPMC. By registering now, we will be able to contact you about scheduling an appointment when vaccine is available.

UPMC Hotline
You can get up-to-date information about vaccine eligibility and availability by calling 1-833-299-4359 (TTY: 711) or visiting upmc.com/covidvaccine

UPMC MyHealth 24/7 Nurse Line
If you are experiencing non-emergent health concerns or COVID-19 symptoms, you can call the UPMC MyHealth 24/7 Nurse Line at 1-866-918-1591 (TTY: 711).

Where can I get the vaccine?

Do I have to get the COVID-19 vaccine from a primary care provider (PCP)?
No.

Do I have to get the COVID-19 vaccine from a network provider?
No.

Do UPMC hospitals have the COVID-19 vaccine available?
Many hospitals, including UPMC, are receiving limited shipments of the first COVID-19 vaccines. There are not yet enough vaccines available for everyone who wants one. As additional vaccines become available, UPMC will continue to prioritize the most at-risk individuals like cancer and transplant patients. More vaccines will be more widely available soon.

Can you help me find a provider that has the COVID-19 vaccine available?
We do not yet know when the vaccine will be available to the general public. Information about vaccine availability changes frequently, and we encourage you to check for updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and UPMC’s COVID-19 website for the latest news and information.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy?
Yes, if/when available.

I’m currently in a state other than Pennsylvania – will the COVID-19 vaccine be covered if I get it here?
Yes.

Other FAQ

Can I stop wearing my mask after I get my vaccines?
No! Even after you get your second dose of the vaccine, we recommend continuing to physical distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently until guidance from state and federal governments changes.

Once there are multiple types of vaccine available, can I choose the one that I receive?
Technically, yes. However, the limited distribution of vaccines and high demand for appointments means that most providers will not be able to offer this choice in the near future. UPMC Health Plan does not impose any coverage limitations based on which of the FDA-authorized vaccines you receive.

*This applies to all of our comprehensive medical coverage products, including Medicare Advantage (UPMC for Life), Special Needs Plan (UPMC for Life Complete Care), Medicaid (UPMC for You), CHIP (UPMC for Kids), UPMC Community HealthChoices, and all UPMC commercial group and individual (Pennie/Marketplace) products. Members of Community Care Behavioral Health (CCBH) should contact their Physical Health MCO regarding coverage. Coverage does not apply for standalone dental, EAP, wellness-only, or other limited scope benefit products. Coverage applies to the FDA-emergency use authorized vaccines administered in the United States.