COVID-19 Vaccines

Update: Vaccinating Our Patients and Community

Rush has been working with local and city officials to safely, equitably and efficiently deliver the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines following guidelines from the Chicago, Cook County and Illinois Departments of Public Health. Here’s the current status for our three hospitals:

We will keep you updated as we expand our vaccine appointments.

Schedule your vaccination at Rush
Schedule your vaccination at Rush

As vaccine distribution continues, Rush is here to help you understand what this means for you and your community. We will provide you with the most up-to-date information on this page. We also encourage you to review national sources for information about the vaccine.

Vaccine Appointment FAQs

Here is everything you need to know about scheduling a vaccine appointment at Rush.

Who is Rush vaccinating now?

Rush is offering vaccinations to people in phase 2, which includes anyone 16 or older for the Pfizer vaccine and 18 or older for the Moderna vaccine.

Rush has been working with local and city officials to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine following guidelines from the Chicago, Cook County and Illinois Departments of Public Health. 

To schedule a vaccine appointment at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago or Rush Oak Park Hospital in Oak Park, use MyChart or the self-scheduling tool on this site. Please note: If you do not see any available appointments, we do not have any appointments at this time — and we do not accept walk-ins. Additional appointment times will be added weekly in conjunction with our vaccine allocation.

We are also vaccinating patients at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora.

Is there a waiting list for receiving the vaccine?

Rush does not have a waiting list.

We will continue to update this page with the most up-to-date information on vaccine availability at Rush hospitals. 

How can I schedule my vaccine appointment at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago?

We are dedicated to making the self-scheduling process as easy and transparent as possible through either MyChart or rush.edu/vaccine-schedule.

You are eligible to self-schedule your appointment at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago for the Pfizer vaccine if you are 16 or older.

You do not have to be a current Rush patient to make a vaccine appointment at Rush University Medical Center.

Here’s how you can schedule your appointment:

Through MyChart

If you have a Rush MyChart account, you can schedule at mychart.rush.edu or on the My Rush app, available in the App Store or Google Play. Learn more about MyChart and the My Rush app.

  1. Log in to your account and navigate to Appointments > Schedule a new appointment.
  2. Select Visits > Schedule a new appointment > COVID Vaccine for Eligible Patients to start the scheduling process.
  3. Answer the questions to determine your eligibility and schedule your appointment, if applicable.

If you don’t have a MyChart account, you can create one for free. Visit the MyChart registration page and enter your information to create an account.

On rush.edu

If you’re a new patient or you are not a Rush patient, you can access vaccine scheduling options on rush.edu/vaccine-schedule.

  1. Open your web browser to rush.edu/vaccine-schedule.
  2. You’ll be asked to answer questions to determine your eligibility.
  3. If you meet the criteria and appointments are available, you can schedule an appointment for a vaccine.

When you schedule your appointment, we encourage you to create a MyChart account rather than “schedule as a guest” for a smooth check-in process and the most up-to-date information about your appointment.

What should I do if appointments are not available when I try to self-schedule at Rush University Medical Center?

If you do not see any available appointments, we do not have any appointments at this time — and we do not accept walk-ins. Please check back again soon. Additional appointment times are added each week in conjunction with our vaccine allocation.

The best way to check for appointment availability at Rush University Medical Center is to log on to MyChart.

How can I get a vaccine appointment if I am a patient at Rush Copley?

Rush Copley Medical Group is reaching out to eligible patients via MyChart as vaccine supply is available. Rush Copley is vaccinating existing patients of Rush Copley Medical Group, including Rush Copley Cardiovascular, Castle Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine and Rush Copley Family Medicine. If you have seen a provider at a Rush Copley Medical Group practice in the last three years, you may be eligible to receive your vaccine at Rush Copley when it is your turn (based on the state’s phased rollout of vaccine distribution and vaccine supply).

How can I get a vaccine appointment if I am a patient at Rush Oak Park Hospital?

Rush Oak Park Hospital can offer vaccine appointments to anyone who lives, works or receives care in suburban Cook County. Rush Oak Park Hospital is primarily distributing the Moderna vaccine, which has not been approved for those under the age of 18.

You can make an appointment by self-scheduling on our website or in MyChart. Here's how:

Through MyChart:

If you have a Rush MyChart account, you can schedule at mychart.rush.edu or on the My Rush app, available in the App Store or Google Play. Learn more about MyChart and the My Rush app.

  1. Log in to your account and navigate to Appointments > Schedule a new appointment.
  2. Select Visits > Schedule a new appointment > COVID Vaccine for Eligible Patients to start the scheduling process.
  3. Answer the questions to determine your eligibility and schedule your appointment, if applicable.

If you don’t have a MyChart account, you can create one for free. Visit the MyChart registration page and enter your information to create an account.

Through rush.edu

If you’re a new patient or you are not a Rush patient, you can access vaccine scheduling options here.

  1. Open your web browser to rush.edu/vaccine-schedule.
  2. You’ll be asked to answer questions to determine your eligibility.
  3. If you meet the criteria and appointments are available, you can schedule an appointment for a vaccine.

When you schedule your appointment, we encourage you to create a MyChart account rather than “schedule as a guest” for a smooth check-in process and the most up-to-date information about your appointment.

Will children be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 16 years and older. The Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 and older.

Please click here for more information on vaccinating children, including 16- and 17-year olds who are eligible for the vaccine.

Why is Rush Oak Park Hospital not vaccinating 16- and 17-year olds?

Rush Oak Park Hospital is distributing the Moderna vaccine, which has not been approved for people under the age of 18.

General COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both use mRNA, or messenger RNA. mRNA is a molecule that carries the information cells use to produce different proteins. Think of it as a blueprint. The vaccines harmlessly mimic the virus’ ability to trigger the body’s immune responses to infections. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines include mRNA from the coronavirus “spike” protein — which is what enables the virus to infect cells.

Due to rare instances of blood clots, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine currently isn’t being administered. Learn more.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not use mRNA. Instead, it is a viral vector vaccine, which delivers a genetically modified DNA virus (which does not cause disease). The modified virus carries instructions to our cells to teach them how to make the “spike” protein that the coronavirus uses to infect people. This triggers your immune system to begin producing antibodies to fight off what it thinks is an infection.

How effective are the vaccines?

The FDA evaluated and analyzed the safety and effectiveness data of all three COVID-19 vaccines and has found them all safe and effective in preventing COVID-19. The data for all three vaccines show that the potential benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh the potential risks of COVID-19.

There is no way to accurately compare the effectiveness of the three different vaccines because none of these trials included direct comparisons with one another. Additionally, the trials occurred in different geographic areas and at different times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pfizer and Moderna

Both vaccines showed around 95% effectiveness.

  • The Pfizer trial included 44,000 volunteers. Of those participants, only 170 developed symptoms of COVID-19. Of the 170, 162 were in the placebo group (did not receive the vaccine) and eight were in the vaccine group. Of the 10 participants who developed more severe COVID-19 symptoms, only one was in the vaccine group.
  • The Moderna trial had more than 30,000 volunteers. Only 196 developed symptoms of COVID-19, and only 11 of those who developed symptoms were in the vaccine group. There were 30 cases of more pronounced COVID-19 symptoms — all of which were in the placebo group, meaning they did not get the vaccine.

Both vaccines require two doses: Pfizer’s 21 days apart and Moderna’s 28 days apart. The second dose is essential. In the Pfizer study, the number of COVID cases was lower in the vaccine group than in the placebo group during the 21-day period between doses. There is some protection after the first dose. However, the second dose is required to achieve 95% efficacy; the full benefit is achieved 7 to 14 days after that second dose is given.

Both vaccines use the same messenger RNA technology to deliver the vaccine, which is great from a production standpoint because the vaccines can be manufactured and distributed a lot more quickly.

Johnson & Johnson

Due to rare instances of blood clots, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine currently isn’t being administered. Learn more.

The vaccine is 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 and 85% effective in preventing severe/critical COVID-19 infections.

The clinical trial was conducted in South Africa, certain countries in South America, Mexico and the U.S. The trial reflected protection against some of the new emerging COVID-19 variants, including the variants from South Africa and Brazil.

  • The Johnson & Johnson trial had about 40,000 volunteers. Starting 28 days after vaccination, there were five severe/critical cases in the vaccine group versus 34 severe/critical cases in the placebo group. Among the participants in the vaccine group, there were no COVID-19 related deaths and no COVID-19 cases that required medical intervention 28 days or more after vaccination.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one dose and has been approved for people who are 18 years old and older. While there was some protection 14 days after vaccination, full effectiveness occurs at about 28 days after vaccination.

Can the vaccine give you COVID-19?

As with other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you the virus. They contain neither a weakened version of a live virus nor a dead version of the virus. mRNA does not get into the nucleus of your cells, and it does not change your DNA. It's rapidly broken down and not infectious because it's a portion of the virus. So there is absolutely no way you can get COVID infection from the COVID vaccine.

Are the vaccines safe?

The COVID-19 vaccines have excellent safety profiles, and most people have been able to tolerate them well. None of their phase 3 clinical trials were discontinued or even temporarily halted due to any adverse event.

In the Pfizer and Moderna trials, fewer than 2% of recipients of these vaccines developed fevers of 102.2°F to 104°F.

More than 100,000 people participated in these trials, including people of all ages, races and ethnicities — spanning multiple regions across the world. The trials also included people who have other health conditions, such as diabetes, HIV, heart disease, lung disease and more — and there were no specific complications for these groups either.

The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness. The top vaccine experts in the world reviewed and approved the results of these trials.

Is the vaccine safe for people with severe allergies?

We recommend you consult your allergist or primary care provider about whether your allergy would prevent you from receiving the vaccine. The CDC has said that people with most allergies can get the vaccine. The CDC advises caution for people who have a history of severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to another vaccine or an injectable medication.

If your allergies are so severe that you need to keep an EpiPen with you, it might be best to wait on vaccination until more is known.

The CDC also advises against vaccination for people with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccines (Pfizer ingredients | Moderna ingredients | Johnson & Johnson ingredients). For more information, please see the CDC's updated guidance about COVID-19 vaccines and severe allergic reactions.

Should women who are pregnant or breastfeeding get the vaccine? Is it safe for them?

There is currently not enough data about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy. But there is no data to indicate that the vaccine should be withheld from pregnant or lactating women. We do know that none of the available COVID-19 vaccines cause genetic changes or COVID-19 infection in you or your baby.

At Rush, we follow guidance from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which has advocated that pregnant and lactating women be included in vaccine trials and recommendations. Visit ACOG's practice advisory for more information.

Pregnant women are at higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19, and pregnant women with certain health conditions, such as diabetes, are at even greater risk. Pregnant women who have COVID-19 also have a higher risk of premature labor and fetal death. We encourage women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant soon or breastfeeding to consult with their doctor about the decision regarding the vaccine.

What are the potential side effects?

The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are like other vaccines. The most common side effects included soreness where the shot was given, headache, fatigue and muscle pain. One thing to keep in mind is that mild side effects are a sign that your body is starting to build immunity (protection) against COVID-19.

Overall, the benefits of these vaccines outweigh any potential side effects. As these studies have shown, there's a significantly lower risk of getting COVID-19 if you are vaccinated — and in those who did get the disease, the symptoms were milder in people who were vaccinated than those who were not.

Pfizer and Moderna

The trials found that the most common side effects of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were pain at the injection site, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain and headache. Pfizer reported that a small percentage of participants had high fevers in the 24-hour period after receiving their vaccine. Both studies also found that side effects to the vaccine were more significant following the second dose, as well as in younger people.

The symptoms are more frequent than what you are likely to experience with the flu or pneumonia vaccines, but most symptoms experienced in the studies were reported as mild to moderate rather than serious to severe.

Johnson & Johnson

Due to rare instances of blood clots, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine currently isn’t being administered. Learn more.

The trial found that the most reported side effects with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate and lasted one to two days.

Hives were reported in five vaccine recipients and one placebo recipient in the seven days following vaccination. The study also reported one case of severe allergic reaction (not anaphylaxis) two days after vaccination.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be needed annually, similar to the flu vaccine?

All COVID vaccine trials will follow participants for two years to determine both long-term side effects and the durability of the antibody response. Currently, we don't know whether people will need booster doses. Researchers will check participants' antibodies over that two-year period, and that will inform decisions about whether booster doses will be necessary.

Will people who had COVID-19 already be able to get the vaccine? Do they need to get it?

As of right now, we don’t think there’s any reason not to get vaccinated, but we will clarify that issue with the local health departments.

If you had COVID-19 and recovered from it, you probably have some antibodies to the virus that causes the disease. But we don’t entirely know what that means as far as your protection against reinfection. While we have not seen too many people get reinfected with COVID within six months of becoming sick, we don’t know how long any immunity might last. So pending guidance from the local health departments, our recommendation will likely be to get vaccinated even if you previously had COVID-19.

The vaccines were developed so quickly, how can we trust that they truly are safe?

The CDC and FDA take many steps to ensure that any vaccine is safe. These vaccines are being tested in large numbers of people to look at both safety and effectiveness.

The rapid development and production has been possible because the mRNA vaccine technology is much more efficient than prior methods of producing vaccines and can be scaled up quickly.

It's important to note that this is not the first time we've had a vaccine developed this quickly. With H1N1, we started seeing cases in March 2009, and by October 2009 we had a vaccine.

Do the vaccines prevent the transmission of COVID-19?

We don't yet have any information on whether the COVID-19 vaccines will prevent transmission. But we do know that almost all of the other vaccines we've used in the past have prevented transmission, so we expect that there will be a decreased risk of transmission with these vaccines as well.

However, until we know for sure, and until enough people are vaccinated, we recommend continuing with universal masking and social distancing.

How many people will need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity?

The percentage of a population that needs to be immune to a disease so that the disease is unlikely to spread — and if it does spread, it won't spread extensively — is around 70 to 80%. In the U.S., that would be around 230 million people.

What is the most compelling argument for getting the vaccine?

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family and our communities. Through clinical studies, these vaccines have gone through rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness — and they have been found to be both safe and effective at preventing COVID-19.

COVID-19 is widespread, and we all have a significant risk of getting it given the current infection rate. The risks of COVID-19 and its subsequent complications are far worse than the risks of the vaccines themselves. Vaccination will significantly reduce both the number of COVID-related deaths and the serious health issues that survivors face. Also, if you have family members who are immunocompromised, vaccinating yourself will prevent you from potentially spreading COVID-19 to them.

In a nutshell: Vaccinating will help us get our lives back.

Can I contract COVID-19 after I'm fully vaccinated?

Yes. Even with the high efficacy of the vaccines, no vaccine is 100% protective. Also, the effectiveness of the vaccine on some of the new strains of COVID-19 that are circulating is not yet known. We all need to continue to follow safety precautions — wearing masks, social distancing and hand hygiene — until enough of the general population has been vaccinated for the United States to achieve herd immunity. Please know that among those who have contracted COVID-19 after being vaccinated, their symptoms have been mild.

After I’ve been vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask and maintain social distancing?

For the time being, yes. Even though the vaccines are very effective, particularly at preventing severe COVD-19 and death, they’re not 100% effective at preventing people from getting sick.

We also don’t know if they prevent vaccinated people from transmitting the virus to others. So it’s possible for someone who’s vaccinated to be infected but not have symptoms and unknowingly pass on the virus to someone else.

Therefore, we need to keep wearing masks and distancing until most of the population has been vaccinated and we achieve herd immunity.

Vaccinating 16- and 17-Year-Olds

Can children receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 16 years and older. The Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 and older.

As part of phase 2 of vaccine distribution, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is currently offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to people 16 years and older.

There are currently no approved COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than 16. However, clinical trials of the vaccines in younger children are underway.

How can eligible 16- and 17-year-olds make vaccine appointments at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago?

There are several ways you can make an appointment for a vaccine appointment:

Self-scheduling: You are eligible to self-schedule your vaccine appointment at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago if you are 16 years or older.

MyChart: If you have a Rush MyChart account, you can schedule at mychart.rush.edu or on the My Rush app, available in the App Store or Google Play. Learn more about MyChart and the My Rush app.

  1. Log in to your account and navigate to Appointments > Schedule a new appointment.
  2. Select Visits > Schedule a new appointment > COVID Vaccine for Eligible Patients to start the scheduling process.
  3. Answer the questions to determine your eligibility and schedule your appointment, if applicable.

If you don’t have a MyChart account, you can create one for free. Visit the MyChart registration page and enter your information to create an account.

For parents: If you want to make an appointment for your child through MyChart, you will need to fill out an access request form for yourself and a child proxy access consent form for your child to access your child’s MyChart account. Learn more about how to get this access.

You do not have to be a current Rush patient to make a vaccine appointment at Rush University Medical Center.

Do parents or guardians need to accompany their child to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment at Rush?

Yes, a custodial parent or legal guardian must accompany the child and sign the consent form for the child when they check in for their vaccine appointment. If the patient’s parent or guardian is not present, they will need to reschedule their vaccine appointment for a time when their parent or guardian can accompany them.

Are any minors able to get the vaccine without a parent or guardian accompanying them?

Minors who fall into the following categories do not need a parent or guardian to accompany them or sign a consent form. However, some of these patients will need to bring additional documentation as noted below.

  • Pregnant minor: Must verbally attest they are pregnant. Patient may sign their own consent form.
  • Minor who has a child: Must verbally attest they are a parent. Patient may sign their own consent form.
  • Minor who is married: Must verbally attest they are married. Patient may sign their own consent form.
  • Homeless minor: Must provide written documentation from qualified adult (e.g., an adult relative, a social worker, an attorney or a representative from a religious organization) that they no longer live with their parent or legal guardian. Patient may sign their own consent form.
  • Emancipated minor: Must provide court order documentation of emancipation. Patient may sign their own consent form.
  • Minor who is ward of the state: Must provide documentation that the DCFS guardian consents to the COVID-19 vaccination. DCFS Guardian or a foster parent or case manager may sign the consent form.
Do minors need to bring any documentation to their vaccination appointment?

Yes, all minors — and their parents or guardians — need to bring an ID to their vaccine appointment.

Additionally, the following groups need to bring a copy of the documentation noted below to their appointment. Please note that Rush will collect and keep your documentation when you check in for your appointment, so please make sure you have a copy for your own personal records as well.

  • Homeless minor: Must provide written documentation from qualified adult (e.g., an adult relative, a social worker, an attorney or a representative from a religious organization) that they no longer live with their parent or legal guardian.
  • Emancipated minor: Must provide court order documentation of emancipation.
  • Minor who is ward of the state: Must provide documentation that the DCFS guardian consents to the COVID-19 vaccination.
Are 16- and 17-year-olds receiving the same vaccine as adults?

Yes, 16- and 17-year-olds are receiving the same vaccine and same dosage of vaccine as those 18 and older.

Is the vaccine safe for 16- and 17-year-olds?

This age group was part of the clinical trials that tested the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. The trials found that 16- and 17-year-olds responded in the same way as those 18 and older in terms of safety, effectiveness and side effects.

There was a myth that has been debunked that the COVID-19 vaccine could cause infertility in children. We want to stress that this claim is absolutely false. The vaccine does not cause infertility, and there is no interaction between the vaccine and the reproductive system. It is much safer to receive the vaccine than to get COVID-19.

Why should 16- and 17-year-olds get the vaccine?

The main advantage is that it will protect 16- and 17-year-olds from getting sick and getting others sick. Although COVID-19 tends to be less severe in younger people, they can get very sick, and we also do not know the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection.

Additionally, some children under 18 have developed serious complications from COVID-19, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a rare but serious condition that causes inflammation in the different parts of the body. We know that many children diagnosed with MIS-C have had either exposure to someone with COVID-19 or a history of COVID-19 infection in the four weeks before developing MIS-C. Some children who develop MIS-C had no symptoms of illness during their exposure and infection with COVID-19. Learn more about COVID-19 in children and MIS-C.

Most important, however, is that it can help protect others as well. If a 16- or 17-year-old gets COVID-19, there is a high risk they can transmit it to others who are at risk for more serious COVID-19. Getting the vaccine will help lower that risk.

Finally, there is significant research that shows when children get the flu vaccine, there is less flu in adults. It is safe to expect these same results with the COVID-19 vaccine because COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to the flu.

COVID-19 Vaccines by the Numbers

View the FAQs above for more information

Effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines

95.00 %

Participants in the vaccine tests

> 100,000.00

Percent of population that needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity

~ 75.00 %

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Beverly-sha
Testimonials

It is very exciting to see the impressive results from Pfizer and Moderna. The side effects from the vaccines — such as site injection reactions, fatigue and muscle pain — are in line with those we see in other vaccines. In my opinion, the risk of developing COVID is greater than the risk of getting a COVID vaccine.

Beverly Sha, MD, infectious disease specialist
steve-lowenthal
Testimonials

The emergency use FDA approval of these vaccines is a pivotal moment in our battle against COVID-19. We've been on the defensive caring for those ravaged by this illness. Now, finally, we can go on the offensive and eliminate the virus itself. We will get to the light at the end of the tunnel when the entire country gets vaccinated. I have complete faith in the rigorous research which resulted in some of the most effective vaccines we have ever seen.

Steve Lowenthal, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Rush Copley
John Segreti, MD
Testimonials

Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent serious diseases. These COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to a large number of people in trials to look at safety and how effective they are. The FDA, CDC and others go through many steps and stringent protocols to make sure vaccines are safe.

John Segreti, MD, infectious disease specialist
Paul Casey
Testimonials

This year of unparalleled challenges is ending with the promise of hope. We also want to temper the hope and optimism that the vaccine provides with the reality that we are in for some challenging days with COVID continuing to spread in our communities. What has worked well for us in the last nine months in terms of social distancing, wearing a mask and washing your hands will continue to protect us in combination with the vaccine.

Paul Casey, MD, medical director

We understand that there are many unknowns about the COVID vaccine. Let us know other questions you have, so we can continue to keep you updated with information you can trust.

While we will not be able to respond to you personally, we are using these questions to update the FAQs that we are sharing on this page.

Let us know your vaccine questions
Let us know your vaccine questions

A Nationwide Effort

While vaccines play a critical role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and, eventually, helping us out of the pandemic, this will not happen overnight. Rush is working closely with public health departments, the CDC and other governing bodies to ensure a fair and equitable distribution.

Rush supply chain worker

Slow the Spread

Distributing the vaccine widely will take time and patience. That’s why it is important to continuing doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect yourself, your loved ones and community by doing the following:

  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid indoors gatherings with those outside your immediate household
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