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COVID-19 Vaccination Update

Palos Health, part of Northwestern Medicine, has invited established patients 65 years and older to schedule a vaccination appointment. However, due to reduced supplies, first dose vaccination appointments are limited. Additional appointments will be added as vaccine supply becomes available.

Second dose appointments are available for those who have received their first dose from Palos Health, part of Northwestern Medicine, and will be scheduled at the time of the initial dose.  

Please do not call your physician’s office for vaccine-related appointments. Vaccines are currently only available at Northwestern Medicine hospitals.  

We encourage you to sign up for Palos MyChart if you are not already enrolled. Your invitation will come through email if you have a Palos MyChart account. If you do not have a Palos MyChart account, you will be contacted by your preferred communication method — phone call, text message or email.

Eligibility and Timing for Vaccination

Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use, when will patients and the general public begin receiving it? Palos Medical Group is now sending invitations to eligible patients 65 and older to schedule vaccination. Invitations are being sent in phases to ensure we can accommodate all patients in a timely and efficient manner. Eligibility is based on criteria established in the state of Illinois vaccination plan, available here. Illinois is now in Phase 1B, which includes front-line essential workers and those age 65 and older.

Palos Health is only scheduling vaccination for patients 65 and older at this time. 

Note that this plan may change quickly at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is considered an established Palos Medical Group patient? For the purposes of this phase of the vaccination program, a patient is considered established if they have a Palos Medical Group primary care physician or regularly see a Palos Medical Group specialist. The patient must have had a visit with their physician in the past 18 months.

Who should and should not get vaccinated? Vaccination is key to ending the pandemic. If you are eligible, you should consider being vaccinated.

If you have any of the following medical conditions, please reach out to your care provider to confirm you should take the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Allergies

  • A fever

  • A bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner

  • Are on a medicine that affects your immune system or are immunocompromised

  • Are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding

    Learn about the ingredients and more information about both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

What if I am unable to schedule an appointment at Palos Health, part of Northwestern Medicine?

Since vaccine supply remains limited, you are encouraged to schedule an appointment at designated vaccination sites. Use the following links to find locations near you:

What happens if I miss the 21- to 28-day window for my second dose? The second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should be given as close to the recommended date as possible. However, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, if you must delay your second appointment, the second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. If you need to change the date of your second appointment, please call 708.923.1000.

How is Palos Health, part of Northwestern Medicine, making sure high-risk groups are receiving vaccinations?

We continue to invite and prioritize established patients based on age and those living in high-hardship ZIP codes that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. High-hardship ZIP codes are defined by a variety of indicators and conditions, including unemployment, poverty, per capita income, housing, education and the dependency and care of a child younger than 18 or adult older than 64.

How old do you have to be to get the vaccine? The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for people 16 and older. The Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 and older.

If I have had COVID-19, should I still get the vaccine? COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you even if you have already had COVID-19. However, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 90 days, you should delay the vaccine at this time. Please wait until at least 90 days after your COVID-19 diagnosis before scheduling vaccination.

What if I just received a flu shot or other vaccine? If you have received any other type of vaccine in the past 14 days, you cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time. Please schedule your vaccination after this 14-day period.

Can people with high-risk medical conditions receive the COVID-19 vaccine? Yes, but during Phase 1B, they must be an essential worker or be 65 or older. If you have concerns about vaccination based on your specific medical history, please discuss them with your medical provider.

If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, is it safe for me to get the vaccine? People who were pregnant or breastfeeding were not included in the first vaccine trials. This is not unusual, as clinical trials don’t typically include people who are pregnant or lactating until the vaccine has been shown to be safe in the general population. However, people who are pregnant and become sick with COVID-19 have been shown to have worse outcomes from the illness. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your physician about COVID-19 vaccination or visit the CDC to learn more.

Where and when can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? Palos Health is identifying and contacting established patients age 65 and older to schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Invitations are being sent on a rolling basis based on availability of vaccine doses. All vaccines are being given at Palos Hospital.

We are following federal, state and local guidelines. Illinois is now in Phase 1B of its vaccination plan, which applies to people age 65 and older as well as essential workers. 

We will continue to contact established Palos Medical Group patients who are eligible for vaccination at Palos Health. This page will be updated as new information is available.

How will I receive the notification? If you have a Palos MyChart account, you will receive your invitation through that portal when you are eligible to be vaccinated. If you do not have a Palos MyChart account, you will be contacted through your preferred communication method: email, text message and/or phone call. You can find instructions to set up a Palos MyChart account here.

How do you schedule COVID-19 vaccination at Palos Health? Palos Health patients who receive an invitation are encouraged to schedule their vaccination appointment through Palos MyChart. You can find instructions to set up a Palos MyChart account here. If you do not have a Palos MyChart account, your invitation will include an access code and a link to a website to use for scheduling. Once you enter the access code, you will be able to select the date, time and location of your vaccination appointment. Please note that the access code is for one-time use and is unique to you.

If you receive a communication from Palos Health about scheduling, please make your appointment as soon as possible, following the instructions given. This allows us to efficiently use all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that we receive.

Can I reschedule my vaccine appointment after I’ve made it? You will not be able to reschedule the appointment online. If you need to reschedule, please call 708.923.1000.

How do I schedule my second dose of the vaccine? We will schedule you for your second appointment when you receive your first dose. Your second dose will need to be given 21 days or 28 days after your first dose, depending on which vaccine you receive. Like the first dose, the second dose will be given at Palos Hospital. When scheduling your first dose, please choose a date that will allow you to receive your second dose in three or four weeks. 

What if I have questions about scheduling my COVID-19 vaccine appointment? If you have questions about scheduling your COVID-19 vaccine appointment once you have received an invitation, please call 708.923.1000.

If I receive an invitation, can my spouse, other family member or neighbor also get the vaccine? No. Your invitation is only for you. If your spouse or family member is eligible for vaccination at Palos Health, they will receive a separate invitation to schedule.

How do I receive the vaccine if I am not a Palos Medical Group patient? Information and registration options for the public are available online. If you are in Cook County, you can subscribe to vaccination updates here. Outside of Cook County, you can find a full list of community-based vaccination clinics in Illinois through the state’s COVID-19 site.

Decisions about eligibility and the availability of vaccine doses are changing quickly at the federal, state and local levels. At this time, vaccine supply is still limited. Eventually, there will be enough vaccine doses for everyone who chooses to be vaccinated.

Vaccine Development and Safety

What vaccines are approved and available? Two COVID-19 vaccines have been approved so far in the U.S. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are now being given.

How do mRNA vaccines work? mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against disease. Instead of putting a weakened or inactive germ into your body like most vaccines, mRNA vaccines teach your cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside your body. The immune response produces the antibodies that help protect you from getting sick if the virus enters your body. mRNA vaccines have been held to the same safety standards as all other types of vaccines in the U.S.

While these are the first mRNA vaccines to be approved in the U.S., the science behind them has been in development for more than 10 years. How do I know the vaccine development process was safe? The safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority for everyone who has helped develop them. All vaccines go through three phases of clinical trials to make sure they are safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves all vaccines and closely monitors their use. It collects data on the vaccines’ benefits and side effects. So far, reports of severe reactions from the first two COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been rare.

Are the vaccines effective? Is one better than the other? Studies have shown that both approved COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing COVID-19 illness. Based on the results of the clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was shown to be 95% effective; the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective.

Can a COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19? No. None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. That means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.

What are the common side effects of the vaccines? Common side effects are similar to those of the flu vaccine. You may have pain, swelling and redness in the arm where you got the shot. You can also have chills, tiredness and headache for a short time. All side effects should stop in a few days. Severe reactions from vaccines given to date have been rare. Having side effects does not mean you have COVID-19. In fact, side effects are often a sign that the vaccine is working.

I see a lot of information on my social media channels about the COVID-19 vaccine. Where can I get accurate information?

When you see vaccine information, it is a good idea to check that the information is from a credible source and is up-to-date. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a good place to find that information. The CDC vaccine information is written and approved by physicians, researchers, epidemiologists and other experts. Here are some other websites where you can get information:

Will I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine? COVID-19 vaccines were purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars. You do not have to pay for the vaccine itself. Palos Health may bill your insurance to administer the vaccine, but there will not be an out-of-pocket cost for any patient.