COVID-19 Vaccine Preparation Update 

Moderna vs. Pfizer Vaccine Comparison

Updated as of Jan. 13, 2021

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Click here to read update.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. Click here to read update. 

Riverside’s dedication to continuing the fight against COVID-19 in our communities has never wavered. We are completing Phase 1a vaccinations and are proud of our vaccine clinic teams’ excellent work and success across Riverside Health System. To date, we are excited to share that we have distributed more than 9,000 vaccines to nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers both within and outside of our health system including hundreds of paramedics and EMTs. We have distributed roughly 75% of the doses provided to us by the state, which is more than double the national average. 

Riverside is excited to move forward with our vaccination efforts. Our organization has entered into Phase 1b as of Wednesday, January 13, starting with scheduling vaccination appointments for Riverside patients, age 75 years of age and older, who have a Riverside primary care physician. We know that many members of the public including those 65 years of age to 74 years of age as well as other essential workers have many questions as to when they will have access to the vaccine. We are working closely with other regional health systems and the Virginia Department of Health to develop detailed plans for these groups once adequate supplies of vaccines become available. 

While eager to vaccinate all Riverside Primary Care patients, the supply on hand today is very limited. As additional doses become available to us, we will work to administer them as quickly as possible as allowed by the Virginia Department of Health and the federal government.
We will be sending out a survey via text and email soon to our primary care patients asking them to identify their age and if they plan to get the vaccine. This will help us determine what phase you fall in and in our planning process. To find out which phase you’re eligible for, check out the Virginia Department of Health’s eligibility tool: https://vdh.jebbit.com/amkwk6m1?L=Owned+Web&JC=Vaccine.

We have developed extensive plans and have set a goal to vaccinate 5,000 people per week if vaccine supply proves adequate, and our top priority is to maximize the speed of vaccination. The state will decide how many doses we receive and when our Riverside Medical Group locations receive the vaccine, but our teams have prepared and are ready to immediately move forward when the time comes so we can make the vaccine available to patients as quickly as possible. 

As the vaccine becomes available to a patient’s priority group, we will do our best to notify them of that availability and share immediate next steps for scheduling the vaccination appointment via Riverside MyChart. If you haven't already, we encourage you to sign up for Riverside MyChart to receive vaccine notifications and information. To learn more about Riverside MyChart, visit riversideonline.com/mychart. If you do not have a Riverside MyChart account, once you become eligible based on government guidelines, we will send you a notification via text or email with specific information on scheduling your vaccination appointment. 

Guidance is continually being updated. As these updates are available, we are committed to sharing them with the community to make sure everyone has access to the most current information.

Our goal is to help patients make the best decisions for their health. We understand there is an overwhelming amount of information available about the vaccines and we will continue to inform the community of what’s happening at the local level, and how exactly that information will impact their lives. 

#RiversideStrong

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated January 14, 2021
When can I get my vaccine?
Riverside is following state and federal guidelines.  For information on the different phases and additional resources, please visit vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine.

For Riverside patients, we are following the guidelines set forth by the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC and will begin to vaccinate Riverside patients, age 75 and older, who have a Riverside primary care physician. 
While eager to vaccinate all Riverside Primary Care patients, the supply on hand today is very limited. As additional doses become available to us, we will work to administer them as quickly as possible as allowed by the Virginia Department of Health and the federal government. 

I was a patient at one of your hospitals but do not have a Riverside primary care doctor. Why isn’t Riverside offering the vaccine to everyone?
The vaccine supply on hand today is very limited. We know that many members of the public, people age 65 and over as well as other essential workers have many questions as to when they will have access to the vaccine. We are working closely with other regional health systems and the Virginia Department of Health to develop detailed plans for these groups once adequate supplies of vaccines become available. 

I am a Riverside primary care patient.  What can I do to be prepared for when it is my turn to schedule my vaccine appointment?
Here are steps you can take today: 

  • We will be reaching out through email, text and Riverside MyChart to eligible patients to schedule an appointment, as supply allows. 
  • If you do not have a MyChart account, please visit riversideonline.com/mychart to sign up today. Obtaining a MyChart account will facilitate scheduling a vaccine appointment once you become eligible to receive the vaccine. 
  • If you are not a Riverside Primary Care patient, your local health department will provide you with information on where and when you can receive your vaccination. Please call 1-877-275-8343 for more information.

Why do I need to schedule an appointment for the vaccine?
Once a vial of vaccine is thawed out and opened, we have a limited amount of time in which to administer the vaccine. Because of this, we will vaccinate by appointment. When your phase arrives, we will send you a "ticket" that will allow you to schedule your vaccine appointment.

Where can I find more information on what phase I am in?
The VDH provides that information.  We provide information from the CDC and VDH on our COVID-19 vaccine page on riversideonline.com or you can visit the VDH website to learn about the vaccine rollout plans, including the different phases and who is included in each phase.

Will I still need to wear a mask after I receive the vaccine?
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. 

Does the vaccine mean that other safety measures and restrictions can be relaxed or removed?
Please continue to follow state and national safety guidelines. While vaccine distribution is an essential part of our COVID-19 response, it will take many months before a large portion of the population is able to be vaccinated. Efforts like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and practicing hand hygiene remain essential to reduce the spread.

What has Riverside done to prepare for a COVID-19 vaccine?
Riverside started planning for the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine and a variety of scenarios in the summer of 2020 as the potential vaccines work through the clinical trial and FDA approval processes. Riverside has the cold storage capacity needed for the vaccines we will receive as we anticipated this need back in the fall. We also have the capability to help distribute the vaccine across physician practices locally and across the state at large. We are taking the lead on coordinating with other health systems across the state and have a distribution plan in place. There has been and will continue to be close, daily coordination between Riverside and health systems across Virginia as well as federal and state-level health departments. It takes teamwork and we are committed to these efforts to support our community, other healthcare providers and the state.

When will the vaccine be available?
Riverside is following state and federal guidelines. So far, Riverside has vaccinated more than 75% of our healthcare workers and anticipates many more community members over the next few weeks. The vaccine is being distributed in Virginia based on a phased system created by the CDC and Virginia Department of Health that prioritizes individuals by risk including: 

  • Phase 1a: Frontline healthcare workers and the elderly living in congregate living situation 
  • Phase 1b: Vaccinate Frontline Essential Workers, Persons Aged 75 years and Older, and People Living in Correctional Facilities, Homeless Shelters and Migrant Labor Camps. Detailed information can be located here.
  • Phase 1c:  Vaccinate Other Essential Workers, People Aged 65 through 74 years, and People aged 16 through 64 years with a High-Risk Medical Condition or Disability that Increases Their Risk of Severe Illness from COVID-19. Detailed information can be located here.
  • Phase 2: (anticipated) Other critical workers, adults with moderate risk from COVID-19 disease, those living in other congregate living situations
  • Phase 3: (anticipated) Children, young adults, and additional professions (to be determined)
  • Phase 4: (anticipated) General population

Riverside is excited to continue moving forward with our vaccination efforts as our organization has moved into Phase 1b as of Wednesday, January 13. We are starting to schedule vaccination appointments for Riverside patients that fall into Phase 1b, including Riverside patients 75 years of age and older.

We know that many members of the public age 65 and over as well as other essential workers have many questions as to when they will have access to the vaccine. We are working closely with other regional health systems and the Virginia Department of Health to develop detailed plans for these groups once adequate supplies of vaccines become available. More information on Phase 1a, 1b and 1c can be found on the VDH website: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/ 

What if there aren’t enough doses of the vaccine available?
While eager to vaccinate all Riverside Primary Care patients, the supply on hand today is very limited.  As additional doses become available to us, we will work to administer them as quickly as possible as allowed by the Virginia Department of Health and the federal government. 

If there are not enough doses available immediately for all those who want it, we view that as a positive sign that our team and the community trusts in the safety and efficacy data as we do. Riverside has been planning for the arrival of the vaccine by purchasing cold freezers and coordinating logistics at a local, state, and federal level to ensure everyone who wants a vaccine can receive one at the appropriate time. As we receive more information about next steps and additional doses, our team is prepared to administer those and will continue to share updates related to timing and availability. 

More information on phase 1a, 1b and 1c can be found on the VDH website:
1a: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/191/2021/01/Phase-1a-In-Depth.pdf
1b: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/191/2021/01/Phase-1b-In-Depth.pdf
1c: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/191/2021/01/Phase-1c-In-Depth.pdf

Will I need more than one dose of the vaccine?
Currently, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will require two doses. Your vaccine provider will let you know which vaccine you received and help provide a way to remind you to return in the right amount of time so you can receive your second dose. It’s important that you receive the same vaccine for the highest efficacy. 

What will it cost to get the vaccine?
At Riverside, the vaccine will be provided free of charge. No money will be collected from patients, and as with all types of care, please do not let cost concerns prevent you from getting vaccinated. There is an administration fee for the vaccine, however your Insurance plan - including Medicare and Medicaid - will cover this $28 fee. If for any reason you receive notice from your insurance plan that the fee is not covered or if you do not have health insurance, please contact our billing office at 1-800-621-7677 and we will submit this charge to the COVID-19 relief fund. 

Is there a second wave of vaccines coming if I'm not in a priority group?  
Yes, the vaccine is being administered in four phases. The state will decide how many doses we receive and when our Riverside Medical Group locations receive the vaccine, but our teams have prepared and are ready to immediately move forward when the time comes so we can make the vaccine available to patients as quickly as possible. We are also coordinating with other health systems and the department of health to create large scale vaccination centers that are open to the community at large.

How effective will the vaccine be?
To be approved, the FDA requires at least 50% effectiveness, but the latest data has shown two COVID-19 vaccines to be above 90% in efficacy. This is almost double the flu vaccine annually. Some of the initial vaccines will require a second dose, either 21 or 28 days after the first dose to reach that 90%+ effectiveness. Your provider will share that information with you before administering the vaccine.

How long will immunity from the vaccine last?
At this time, clinical research has not confirmed how long the vaccine provides immunity from the COVID-19 virus. The organizations who develop the vaccines will continue to monitor and provide more details about this as available. That said, Riverside encourages everyone who is eligible to consider receiving the vaccine and to talk to their provider to ensure they make the best choice for their health. 

How effective is the vaccine on newer strains of the COVID-19 virus? How will other strains impact my care? 
Our current COVID-19 procedures will not be impacted regardless of the strain. To our current understanding, both vaccines protect against multiple strains of the virus. However, the CDC is continuing to monitor and guide healthcare organizations on best practices.  

How do you know the vaccine is safe?  
All vaccines carry minor side effects, but clinical trials along with FDA approval confirms the safety and efficacy. The latest data shows COVID-19 vaccines to be above 90% in efficacy, which is almost double the flu vaccine annually. The safety data has been evaluated by the FDA and was a critical piece of their decision to move forward with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Additionally, even after the vaccine is administered, the FDA will continue to monitor for any side effects and overall safety for a minimum of two months. That said, Riverside is confident in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for our community. 

What are the side effects of the vaccine going to be?  
Early information on the vaccine has shown minor side effects like the Shingles vaccine, including: 

  • Pain and tenderness at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Slight fever 
  • Headache
  • Muscle/joint pain
  • More information will be available as the clinical trials progress and information is presented to the Food and Drug Administration.

If I’ve already tested positive for COVID-19, should I still get the vaccine?  
Right now, it’s still unknown how long a person’s immunity after they’ve had COVID-19 lasts so we are recommending getting the vaccine regardless of whether you have previously tested positive. As more information is available, this might change, and we will be sure to communicate any updates to this recommendation. 

Are there concerns around the interaction between the flu and COVID-19 vaccines?
The CDC recommends that the COVID-19 vaccine should not be administered within 14 days of any other vaccine. However, Riverside encourages everyone to go ahead and get their flu vaccine until the COVID-19 vaccine becomes broadly available. If you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now and have recently received another vaccine, please let your healthcare provider know. 

Is there anyone who should not get a COVID-19 vaccine? What if I have a chronic condition?

  • The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is not available to children under age 16. The Moderna vaccine is not available to anyone under the age of 18.
  • The COVID-19 vaccination might not be recommended for people with certain health conditions. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about getting the vaccine. 
  • For individuals that have had a previous severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or injectable medication, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine.  
  • For those that have had a severe allergic reaction to food or oral medications, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine.  If you receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you will be monitored for 30 minutes after the vaccine is administered. 
  • There are a lot of internet and social media rumors around the vaccine.  If in doubt about the vaccine and your specific health condition, please talk with your healthcare provider before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy or breastfeeding women; There is very limited data in pregnant women but trials involving pregnant women are due to start in January. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

In the News

Riverside experts share what they know with local and national media.