IMPORTANT UPDATE February 26 - Vaccine Clinic Closures:

Since COVID-19 vaccines first became available, MemorialCare and all other health systems have been dependent on local and state healthcare agencies to supply the vaccine. Regrettably, during the week of February 15th, our local agencies informed us that we would not receive the expected vaccine we needed to fulfill our scheduled appointments. While we have received some vaccine supply since, it is still not enough. We have had no other option but to cancel a number of previously scheduled vaccine appointments and will reschedule them as soon as we have enough vaccine supply.

Canceled Vaccination Appointments:

  • Friday, February 26 at our Fountain Valley Health and Wellness Pavilion (first floor only)
  • Saturday and Sunday, February 27-28 at our San Juan Capistrano Health Center

If you are one of the individuals affected by this, you should receive notification from us regarding your appointment cancellation either through text, email or phone outreach. You can expect a second notification within a week of cancellation with any updates we have on our vaccine supply and rescheduling your appointment. We are truly sorry for any concerns or inconveniences this may cause.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Last updated: February 26, 2021

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has developed a prioritized set of guidelines based on phases and tiers for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. MemorialCare is following these guidelines which began with vaccinating our frontline healthcare workers to ensure safe care to those who need it. As the CDPH revises its guidelines, we have been able to start vaccinating a broader population that includes our patients who are 65 years of age and older and other eligible community members. So far, we have administered more than 60,000 doses. We are moving quickly.

For our MemorialCare Medical Group patients 65 years and older: 

You are currently in the group of individuals who are being vaccinated. If you have been a patient of ours within the last 24 months, and if we have sufficient vaccine supply to administer, we will notify you using the contact information we have on file, including myChart, text message, email, phone outreach, or regular postal service, to inform you on how to schedule your appointment. Until then, there is no need to contact us to schedule a vaccine appointment. 

For our other MemorialCare Medical Group patients: 

MemorialCare wants to provide vaccination to as many of our patients as possible and as soon as possible and we are taking all necessary steps toward that goal. As stated above, we are following the CDPH's vaccination guidelines. In addition, we are dependent upon the state and county for our vaccine supply. When we receive sufficient vaccine and when the county health departments approve moving ahead through the phases and tiers, we will notify you if you fall into a priority group using the contact information we have on file, including myChart, text message, email, phone outreach, or regular postal service.
 
Because we cannot say exactly when this will occur, we are not scheduling vaccination appointments at this time. Thank you for your patience and we encourage you to visit this page for our most up-to-date information.

Download chart of California’s Phases and Tiers here.

Sign up for myChart

Once you are notified that it is time to schedule your appointment, the fastest and easiest way to schedule will be through myChart. You can self-sign up online for an account here. Once in the portal, make sure your contact information is up-to-date. Those with existing myChart accounts who need to reset their password can find help here.

For our Greater Newport Physicians patients: 

There is an FAQ vaccine webpage on the GNP website. We recommend you visit it often for updates.

Track the progress of the vaccines at MemorialCare.

Please see the most common questions and answers related to COVID-19 vaccines.

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Does MemorialCare currently have the vaccine?

Beginning in mid-December, we received our first shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at our MemorialCare hospitals. And in early January, we received our first shipments of the Moderna vaccine at our Long Beach and Orange County facilities. We continue to work with state and county health departments to secure a vaccine supply.

To date, MemorialCare has administered more than 25,000 first doses, the vast majority to our healthcare workers, and starting in mid-January, to a growing number of MCMG patients and community members who are 75 years or older.

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How much vaccine will MemorialCare receive?

Back in November we submitted the required application to receive the vaccines and were approved​ for distribution. Based on the information we provided, the State and County then determined the amount of vaccine that would be available to us in the first phase.

While MemorialCare is committed to acquiring as many doses as needed to vaccinate our healthcare workers and all our patients over time, we are dependent on the state and county for our vaccine supply. As a result, we remain in close communication with our state and local health departments to help ensure a continued supply.

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Will I be able to get vaccinated immediately?

Early vaccine supply has been quite limited and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has established vaccination guidelines for prioritization (Phase 1a) that call for the first doses to go to high-risk healthcare workers who care for COVID-19 patients. You will, therefore, not be able to get vaccinated right away.

As greater supply of vaccine becomes available, and as the CDPH authorizes counties and health systems to move forward through the priority phases and tiers, we will be able to vaccinate our patients. In fact, as of January 23rd, after receiving additional vaccine, we began offering it to MCMG patients who are 75 years and older.  

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Once vaccines are more widely available, where will MemorialCare offer them?

Currently, for your convenience, we have set up vaccine clinics in select MCMG health centers in Long Beach and Orange County. When you become eligible to schedule your appointment, you will receive notification from us and be able to choose your date and time to be vaccinated at one of these clinics.

Additionally, the county health departments have set up super POD vaccine locations that are currently open to those 65 years and older. And as more supply becomes available, pharmacies will likely also offer vaccinations.

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I know people who have received an email from MemorialCare to schedule their vaccine. Can you explain who is getting notified and why?

We recently began sending emails to MCMG patients who are 75 years and older to let them know they are now able to schedule their vaccine appointment. Although the state and county has authorized people 65 years and above, MemorialCare's limited vaccine supply is not enough to vaccinate that entire patient group at this time. While vaccinating all our patients will take a while, MemorialCare is working hard and cooperating with government agencies to get the vaccine to everyone who is eligible.

Additionally, those who were notified have been identified as a MemorialCare Medical Group patient who has visited one of our MCMG facilities within the last 24 months.

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Can I schedule an appointment for my vaccination now?

Until we notify you that you are eligible to make your vaccine appointment and provide you with specific instructions on how to schedule it, you cannot make an appointment. Please do not call your doctor’s office since they will be unable to help schedule an appointment or provide further information.

Please be assured, we continue to receive a steady vaccine supply and as groups become eligible, we will be notifying them. Once notified, the fastest and easiest way to schedule your vaccine appointment will be through our myChart patient portal or by calling our Navigation Center at (877) MYMEMCARE (696-3622). At the time of vaccination, we’ll schedule your second dose.

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Who is going to provide my vaccination once I’m able to receive it?

Depending on where you go for your vaccination, it may be your physician, or it may be a nurse or pharmacist. You may also choose to get vaccinated at a non-MemorialCare facility such as one of the county super PODs or your local pharmacy if they offer it.

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What is the government’s process for vaccine distribution?

MemorialCare, along with all other health systems, is dependent on federal, state and local agencies to get its vaccine supply.

Once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approve a vaccine for distribution, it goes through a multi-step allocation and distribution process, beginning with the government allocating vaccine doses to the states. The states then allocate to counties. The counties, through their public health departments, allocate to the hospitals and clinics that will be administering the vaccine. The vaccine manufacturer or distributor will be responsible for directly shipping the dosages to the hospitals and clinics.

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Who will be vaccinated first?

Due to early vaccine supply being limited, the California Department of Public Health developed recommended guidelines for statewide COVID-19 vaccine allocation and distribution. In the first phase, called Phase 1a, individuals eligible to receive the vaccine are:

  • Healthcare workers at risk of exposure
  • Long-term care facility residents
  • Emergency medical services such as paramedics and EMTs
  • Dialysis center employees

And because the available vaccines will not meet the full needs of this population, any further prioritization will be based on type of facility, location and health status of the individual.

After Phase 1a is Completed
While the above outlines the estimated 24 million Americans in Phase 1a who are the first to be vaccinated, the following provides guidelines for the next two groups in line, Phase 1b (49 million Americans) and Phase 1c (129 million Americans). As before, MemorialCare will continue to follow all vaccine allocation prioritization guidelines outlined by the CDC and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Phase 1b:  
•    People 75 and older*
•    Frontline essential workers, including police officers, firefighters, teachers, grocery store staff and postal workers 

 Phase 1c (begins when Phase 1b is complete): 
•    People ages 65-74*
•    People ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions
•    Other essential workers (to include food service employees, transportation and logistics workers, construction workers, finance employees, information technology and communications, energy workers, the media, the legal profession, public safety engineers, and water and wastewater employees)

* UPDATE January 13, 2021:
Following CDC recommendations, on January 13, the state of California announced a change in the prioritization groups. People who are 65 years and older and have received care from us within the last 24 months, your records will help us identify and reach out to you when it is time to schedule your vaccination appointment.
 

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I’ve been hearing of California’s super vaccine PODs. Can I get vaccinated at one of these sites?

The state and county have set up vaccine super POD (point-of-dispensing) stations, like the ones you may have heard about at Disneyland and Dodger Stadium. Much of the state’s limited vaccine supply is being directed to these large sites. You have the option to sign up for your vaccination at one of these county organized sites using the links below.

Orange County residents: schedule your vaccine appointment by going to Othena.com.

Long Beach residents: visit VAXLB to schedule an appointment or, for questions, email covid19vaccine@longbeach.gov or call 562.570.INFO.

Los Angeles residents: schedule your vaccine appointment through the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department's website

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When can the general public expect to be vaccinated?

The speed with which the public can be vaccinated depends on vaccine approval timelines, production and available supply.

Once we receive ample supply, and once the California Department of Public Health’s recommended guidelines for prioritizing vaccine recipients have been satisfied, we expect to start vaccinating the general public. Even then, factors such as age, health issues and location may play a role in determining who gets prioritized.

It’s estimated that it may take about six months or more to immunize all who want to be immunized across the country.

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Which vaccines are available?

Currently, there are two vaccines approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA):

The Pfizer and German partner BioNTech Vaccine was the first to receive EUA from the FDA on December 11, 2020.

  • 95% efficacy
  • Requires two doses, 21 days apart
  • Recommended for ages 16 and above
  • Must be stored in special low temperature refrigeration, -80 degrees to -60 degrees Celsius, making it more likely to be used at hospitals

The Moderna (in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) Vaccine received EUA from the FDA on December 18, 2020. 

  • 94.5% efficacy
  • Requires two doses, 28 days apart
  • Recommended for ages 18 and above
  • Requires standard refrigeration, -25 degrees to -15 degrees Celsius, making it possible to be used in smaller health clinics or local pharmacies  

Both vaccines are administered similar to a flu shot and are given in the muscle of the upper arm.

In general, after a person receives the first dose of a vaccine, they will start to develop some immunity within 2-4 weeks, but this is not full or sufficient immunity to protect against disease. The vaccines require the second ‘booster’ dose to reach full 94.5% or 95% immunity which can take an additional week after receiving the second dose. As for how long the immunity lasts, this is still not fully known. At this point, we cannot say whether repeat vaccination, for instance on an annual basis, will be necessary.

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Do I have a choice as to which of the two vaccines I can have?

Because we do not know how much of each vaccine type – Pfizer or Moderna – we will receive or have available for our patients, we cannot control which vaccine will be offered when you make your appointment. Therefore, you will not be able to choose which vaccine type you want. If you make an appointment and upon arrival find out it is not the vaccine brand you prefer, you will have the choice of accepting the vaccine we have available or canceling your appointment.

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Is the vaccine safe?

Each of the two vaccines have undergone multiple phases of clinical trials. In late-stage trials, they have been tested and monitored on tens of thousands of human volunteers.

Additionally, the FDA, which has the power to quickly approve medical products during times of public health emergencies, has stated that although the COVID-19 vaccines are being fast-tracked, their testing process has closely mirrored the standard rigorous testing and approval process that any non-emergency vaccine would require before it is approved.

MemorialCare's medical experts have studied the findings of these clinical trials and the scientific data and agree with the CDC and FDA recommendations that the vaccines are safe, effective and will lead to a significant reduction in the spread of the virus.

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Are there any possible side effects or concerns?

It is possible you may experience side effects after vaccination. This is normal. Recipients have complained of pain at the injection site, fatigue, chills, fever, muscle aches and headaches.

WARNING:
People who have a history of anaphylaxis to another vaccine or injectable medication should be carefully monitored for 30 minutes if they choose to get the vaccine. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic overreaction of the body’s immune system, which can be life-threatening. Those concerned or who have been told by their healthcare provider to carry an EpiPen should speak with their physician before receiving the vaccine.

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Should I get vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?

The CDC recommends that people who have had COVID-19 still be vaccinated. The risk of reinfection is very low in the first 90 days, so some people may choose to wait that long, but that is not necessary. People with current COVID-19 symptoms should wait, however, until their acute illness has resolved before being vaccinated.

Because this is a new virus, we are still learning about short and long-term immunity. Medical professionals are not certain how long a person can remain immune after having been infected. Therefore, those vaccinated will either gain immunity or potentially extend or strengthen existing immunity.

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Are there any other groups of people who should or should not take the vaccine?

Currently, the two vaccines are not recommended for all ages. While the Pfizer vaccine is not recommended for those below the age of 16, the Moderna vaccine is not recommended for those below 18.

Although pregnant and breastfeeding women did not take part in any vaccine clinical trials, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has issued a statement that pregnant and nursing women should not be excluded from receiving a vaccine. 

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Once I am vaccinated, will I still need to follow precautionary measures?

Because it will take time to vaccinate and immunize everyone and there is a small chance that a vaccinated person can still get and spread the infection without getting sick themselves, it is strongly​ advised that even after being vaccinated, you continue to social distance, mask, and wash your hands frequently.

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What data is being collected regarding vaccinations?

All hospitals and healthcare providers who administer the COVID-19 vaccination doses are required to report this information to the California Immunization Registry (CAIR) within 24 hours. In order to be able to do this, they must be registered with CAIR and have an immunization information system ID number.  Vaccine providers must also report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) any moderate and/or severe adverse events following a vaccination.

Sign Up for a myChart Account

Be prepared. If you do not already have a myChart account, create one today. Although you will be unable to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment until we notify you it is time, using myChart to schedule will be the fastest and easiest way. If you already have a myChart account, please make sure your contact information is current.

MemorialCare Vaccine Timeline

Track the progress of the vaccines at MemorialCare.

Vaccine Q&A: 12/16/20

MemorialCare’s Chief Medical Officer answers your COVID-19 vaccine questions.