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COVID-19 Vaccines

Vaccine Requirement Update (August 2023)

UC Merced COVID-19 vaccine requirements now include an opt-out/declination option for meeting the COVID-19 requirement. COVID-19 vaccination declinations can be submitted on the MyHealthPortal under medical clearances.

Vaccine Requirement

On August 16th, the University of California released a final COVID-19 Vaccine Policy for UC students and employees.

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination Program Policy & FAQ

COVID-19 Vaccine Options

Frequently Asked Questions About the Vaccine

Vaccine Safety

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine as well as the emergency use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

Does the vaccine have side effects?

As with all vaccines, sometimes the vaccination causes mild side effects. These include pain or redness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pains, chills, nausea, vomiting, swelling/tenderness of glands in the underarm area. These are not harmful. Here's what to expect after getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

What happens if I have an allergic reaction to the vaccine?

Allergic reactions are rare. SHS will monitor you for allergic reactions before you go home. If you have hives, swelling, or wheezing (respiratory distress) after vaccination, call 911. Use the CDC's V-safe after vaccination health checker to let the CDC know about any reactions you have.

What are the ingredients of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?

For a full list of ingredients, see Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Recipient and Caregivers

For a full list of ingredients, see Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers

Vaccine Timing and Protection

Does the vaccine protect against all variants of COVID?

According to the CDC, "New variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 illness have emerged. Current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States should work against these variants." However, "evidence is limited on how the new COVID-19 variants will affect how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions." Because of this, please continue to wear masks, wash your hands often, practice social distancing, and get tested regularly.

Am I protected against COVID-19 when I get the first vaccine?

You need to get both doses. According to the State of California: "Getting the second dose of the vaccine will make it more effective. When the COVID-19 vaccines become available to you, and after you receive your first dose, you should schedule the second dose appointment before leaving your doctor's office."

What if I miss my second dose?

Call your healthcare provider to get the second dose as soon as possible. The vaccine isn't as effective with only one dose. Two doses are required. Use the CDC's v-safe app to get reminders about getting your second dose.

When I'm vaccinated, can I stop testing, socially distancing, or wearing masks? What can I do safely?

Wondering why you have to keep getting tested, wearing face coverings, and physical distancing after you're vaccinated? County, State, UCOP, and CAL-OSHA guidelines all require these things even after vaccinations, and UCM must continue to follow those requirements. The reasons are:

  • The vaccines may not protect against some variants, so until we know more we need to be very careful and keep practicing these COVID safety measures.
  • Depending on which vaccines you have, around 5% of vaccinated persons do not have adequate antibody protection. We need to be cautious until the rates of COVID-19 infection decrease significantly. Until then, we all need to keep getting tested, wearing face coverings, and physically distancing.

See the CDC's guidelines about what you can do once you're fully vaccinated. You are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after you have received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or 2 weeks after you have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen). You must keep wearing masks and socially distancing when you are in public or around unvaccinated people. However, you can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. Read the official CDC guidance for more helpful tips.

  • Remember to follow the Bobcat Strong actions (Do Your Part) to promote a healthy campus:
  • Complete your daily symptom check if you are accessing a campus site
  • Wear a face covering
  • Abide by posted physical distancing guidelines
  • Participate in the asymptomatic testing program that has been made available for members of our campus community
  • Do not come to work or on-site if you are feeling ill
  • Regularly wash your hands

What should I do if I get my first vaccine but then feel sick with COVID-19 symptoms?

Stay home and call your healthcare provider.

Will I be affected if other people on campus don't get the vaccine?

You will be protected from people with COVID-19 if you get both doses of the vaccine, even if others do not.

I've been fully vaccinated and then I was exposed to a COVID-19 positive person. Should I quarantine?

If you were exposed to a COVID-19 positive person but you've been vaccinated, the CDC says you are not required to quarantine if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e.., 2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or  2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure
  • You must still wear your mask to avoid spreading COVID-19 to others. Even when vaccinated, you can still have the virus in your nose or mouth. It won't make you sick but you can spread to others if you cough, sneeze, laugh, sing, etc.

Who Should Get the Vaccine

Should I get the vaccine even though I'm young and healthy?

Yes. If you get COVID-19, a vaccine will protect you from long-term effects and will lessen your risk of serious symptoms. Getting a vaccine helps stop the spread of COVID-19 to other who are at greater risk such as grandparents, professors and staff, neighbors, friends with medical conditions, etc.

Where can off-campus students or family members get vaccinated?

They should contact their primary care provider for vaccine information, or visit the Merced County Department of Public Health website: Vaccinate Merced.

Can I get the vaccine if...

  • ...I already have or had COVID-19? Yes, as long as you have recovered and are no longer in isolation.
  • ...I received any other vaccine recently? Yes, the CDC updated their guidance to say that it's okay to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you've had another vaccine recently.
  • ...I need a quantiFERON test (TB blood test)? Wait four weeks after your final COVID-19 vaccination before you get a quantiFERON test. If you need the test earlier, please discuss with your primary care physician.
  • ...I am under 18? Moderna is only available for those 18 and older and Pfizer is available for those 16 and older. When the vaccine is available for students, please contact us if you need help finding a vaccine that is approved for your age range.
  • ...I am pregnant or breast-feeding? Typically yes, but you should talk to your OBGYN first.
  • ...I am immune-compromised? Typically yes, but you should talk to your healthcare provider first.
  • ...I have a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)? Talk to your healthcare specialist first. Depending on the history, we may ask you to get approval from your allergist or other specialist before giving you the vaccine. Get more information about allergies and COVID-19 vaccines here.
  • ...I have mild seasonal, food, pet or dust allergies? Yes, the vaccine is safe for those with egg allergies, other food allergies, and celiac disease. There are no preservatives. People with mild seasonal, pet, or dust allergies may receive the vaccine.