illustration of a needle and container for a vaccine

We are encouraged by the good news that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine available to the UAB community has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We hope that this testament to its high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality — plus incentives — will motivate more of our campus community to get vaccinated.

At this time, everyone age 5 and older is eligible for vaccination according to the Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines. An appointment can easily be scheduled below. You may also receive your vaccine without an appointment at several locations.

It is important to note that vaccinated individuals will not be required to serve a five-day quarantine after a confirmed close contact exposure in most circumstances. (See the latest Close Contact Exposure guidance for students and faculty/staff.)

Booster Update Information

On March 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot for individuals age 50 and older and for immunocompromised individuals age 12 and older (Pfizer) or age 18 and older (Moderna). This second booster dose should be given least 4 months after the first booster. Read more about booster doses at UAB.

Updated Vaccine Requirement

To comply with multiple federal mandates announced in 2021, UAB and UAB Medicine implemented employee COVID-19 vaccination requirements. However, in late 2021, injunctions were placed on each mandate, and UAB and UAB Medicine temporarily paused requirements. At this time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirement for healthcare workers is the only one to be reinstated.

This is where each mandate stands (as of Jan. 26, 2022):

  • CMS Requirement for Healthcare Workers (active): The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the CMS requirement for healthcare workers, so UAB Medicine reinstated its requirement for certain UAB Medicine employees (first shot or apply for exemption by Feb. 14 and, if receiving Moderna or Pfizer, second shot or approved exemption by March 15).
  • Mandate for Large Employers (withdrawn): The “vaccine or test” mandate for large employers has been withdrawn by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • Mandate for Employees of Federal Contractors (paused/enjoined): A federal court issued a nationwide order to suspend the vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors. If the injunctions are lifted, UAB must be ready to comply with federal requirements. If you are an employee (including student employees) who does not already have a COVID-19 vaccine record or an approved vaccine exemption on file with UAB, please consider taking the following steps as a voluntary measure, especially those that were vaccinated off-site (for example, by your private physician, at the Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital, or at the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital):

Taking these voluntary steps now will help ensure (1) medical, disability or religious exemption requests by our employees are processed in a timely manner, and (2) UAB can achieve compliance if the injunctions are lifted. It also provides UAB’s public health and infectious disease experts important data to guide future decisions about on-campus safety strategies. 

We remain encouraged by the high vaccination rates reported among faculty, staff and students and continue to urge others to take advantage of the free vaccines. The protection afforded by the vaccine has been essential in keeping positive case numbers low.

Employees and Students

All UAB students and employees should make an appointment to receive a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine (first and second doses). UAB is administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which requires two shots separated by at least 21 days. Student vaccines are not required but highly encouraged. See information on UAB employee vaccination requirements.

Student vaccine appointmentsEmployee vaccine appointments

Boosters

On March 29, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot for individuals age 50 and older and for immunocompromised individuals age 12 and older (Pfizer) or age 18 and older (Moderna). This second booster dose should be given least 4 months after the first booster.

Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: Visit the CDC website for booster information.

Read more information on boosters, including timing recommendations and mixing-and-matching, on the CDC website.

Booster Information: Campus Locations

UAB employees who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can receive booster doses without an appointment Monday-Friday at the following locations. Remember to bring your vaccination card so it may be updated with the booster information:

  • The UAB Injection Clinic on the second floor of The Kirklin Clinic, open weekdays 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • The UAB Injection Clinic in the The Kirklin Clinic parking deck (the former Regions Bank space) at 539 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. S., open weekdays 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

UAB Medicine Vaccine Clinics

At this time, everyone age 5 and older is eligible for vaccination according to the Alabama Department of Public Health Guidelines. An appointment can easily be scheduled through UAB Medicine.

Patients and Community

Everyone age 5 and older is eligible for vaccination.

Schedule your vaccination appointment

You can receive your vaccine without an appointment at the UAB Hospital Highlands drive-through vaccinations site and UAB Medicine Injection Clinic. The Highlands drive-through site normally operates Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Holiday hours: The Highlands site will be open Dec. 31 from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be closed Jan. 1. The UAB Injection Clinic operates Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Click here for hours and directions.

***Children under 19 years of age must have parent of guardian consent form signed.***

The Vaccine and How It Works

The active ingredient in the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and another company, Moderna, is messenger RNA, which is genetic information used to make the spike protein found on the outside of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The spike protein is the part of the virus that attaches to human cells. The spike protein is recognized by the body’s immune system to develop protection from infection.

The spike protein alone cannot cause COVID-19. Once the spike protein is created, it causes the immune system to make antibodies against the virus. These antibodies can then provide protection if a person comes into contact with the virus. mRNA vaccines are non-infectious and do not enter the human cell nucleus, so the mRNA cannot be inserted into human DNA. mRNA vaccines do not have the ability to cause cancer.

All vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection. Vaccines greatly reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. When germs, such as viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness. The immune system uses several tools to fight infection. The first time the body encounters a germ or virus, it can take several days for the body to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to fight the infection. After the infection, the immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease.

While some vaccines, such as flu vaccines, use dead or deactivated virus to imitate the infection, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine approved for COVID-19 does not. It uses the body’s messenger RNA to teach the immune system to recognize the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A person cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness

According to the FDA, there were no safety concerns identified in the 43,448 participants in the clinical trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and no enhanced disease in the recipients. The most commonly reported side effects were mild and include soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. Side effects were more common with the second of the two required doses of the vaccine. Historically, long-term side effects from vaccines have been rare.

The clinical trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and Moderna vaccines included participation from African American and Hispanic people — more than 10 percent of participants were African American and more than 20 percent were Hispanic in the Pfizer/BioNTech trials and more than 20 percent of participants in the Moderna trials were African American — said Heersink School of Medicine Dean Selwyn Vickers, M.D. “These studies have included our people to prove they are safe,” Vickers said.

The CDC recommends that people who have experienced severe reactions to prior vaccines or injectable drugs can still get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19, but should discuss the risks with their doctors and be monitored for 30 minutes afterward.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP-recommended priority groups.

Effectiveness

According to Phase 3 clinical trial results, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 seven days after the second dose. (This vaccine requires two doses, given at least 21 days apart.) The vaccine was 94 percent effective in adults over the age of 65. This means that getting vaccinated reduces the chances of a confirmed coronavirus infection to just 5 percent. The Moderna vaccine showed a 94 percent efficacy rate 14 days after the second dose. These results were consistent across gender, age, race, and ethnicity.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were shown to prevent COVID-19 in people compared to those who received a placebo. Experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you are exposed to COVID-19 by boosting your immune response should you be exposed to COVID-19 in the future. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Experts continue to conduct more studies about the effect of COVID-19 vaccination on the severity of illness from COVID-19, as well as its ability to keep people from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

Precautions Needed After Vaccination

Each person receiving the vaccination will be monitored for 15 minutes following the vaccination for reactions. Medical staff will be on hand for those that may need immediate attention. According to the FDA, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine starts working within about two weeks of the first dose. Wearing a mask and practicing social distancing is still important after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. There will be limited doses available initially, and because people will be vaccinated in waves, it will take time to vaccinate enough of the population to stop the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, it is not known how long immunity will last. Furthermore, infection after receiving a vaccine may still be possible, although it is likely that it would be less severe, such as a mild or asymptomatic infection. Others can still be infected in this scenario, necessitating the continued use of masks.

The vaccine does not kill or destroy the virus if you are exposed. It simply trains your body to successfully fight off the virus so you do not get sick. You can still infect others, so mask wearing and social distancing is still recommended. The vaccine will take effect roughly 14 days after the first dose. The second dose likely extends the duration of that protection but only a bit more, if any, to the protection.

Even after you receive your vaccine, we are advising UAB faculty, students and staff to continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing. The vaccine is not fool proof and you may still contract COVID or spread the virus to others, so continued precautions will still be important.

Lost your COVID Vaccination Card?

Click Here to request a replacement. Upon receipt of your request, a replacement vaccination card will be created and mailed within 5-7 business days. Your replacement vaccination card will only reflect COVID vaccine doses given by UAB.