Information as of Jan. 17, 2020

Note: Information about the COVID-19 vaccine is changing rapidly. As we learn more, we will update the following Frequently Asked Questions with new information.

Special notice: Memorial Hermann has been selected by the State of Texas to serve as a vaccine hub. We are working to finalize plans about the vaccine hub, which will include additional opportunities for those within the state’s Phases 1A and 1B to schedule a vaccine appointment with a focus on making the vaccine available to the hardest hit zip codes and demographics. We will be limited by vaccine supply. Please check back here often for additional information.

Patient COVID-19 Vaccine Update

In compliance with the State’s Phase 1B guidance for vaccine distribution, Memorial Hermann is currently offering the vaccine by email invitation only to the following eligible groups in stages:

  • Active, established Memorial Hermann Medical Group patients 65 years of age and older; individuals who have a relationship with Memorial Hermann and are 65 years of age and older; and members of the general community who are 65 years of age or older.

If you have not received a direct invitation from Memorial Hermann or if you were forwarded a link to schedule your vaccination, we cannot offer you the COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

Memorial Hermann looks forward to offering COVID-19 vaccination to all our patients and members of the community, and will share updates as additional vaccine becomes available.

COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance

As hospitals and doctor’s offices work diligently to vaccinate our community as quickly as possible, we encourage everyone to:

  • Be patient. Know that vaccines are only available in limited quantities and that vaccinations for healthcare providers, first responders and vulnerable patient populations take precedence. Keep in mind, due to limited availability of vaccine, it will likely take several months to vaccinate all those who are eligible.
  • Check your email. Memorial Hermann is currently offering the vaccine by email invitation only. To help ensure Memorial Hermann is able to provide COVID-19 vaccination for all vulnerable patient populations in our community, do not share this email with others.
  • Check the website. Memorial Hermann's website is the best source of accurate, up-to-date information related to our COVID-19 vaccine distribution process. By limiting calls and unscheduled visits to our hospitals and doctor’s offices that are related to vaccine inquiries, we can more effectively assist and provide care for our patients and their loved ones.

About Vaccines

Vaccines train the body’s immune system to recognize and fight viruses and bacteria. When the body is exposed again to a virus after being vaccinated against it, the body is immediately ready to fight the illness. Vaccines currently save millions of lives every year by preventing diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles and influenza.

Getting a vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a rigorous one, to ensure both safety and efficacy. Read more about the FDA’s approval process.

During a public health emergency, the FDA can issue an EUA to allow the use of unapproved medical products (or unapproved uses of approved medical products) to diagnose, treat or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases. Certain safety, efficacy and other criteria must be met.

A virus can spread very quickly throughout a community infecting many people. However, if enough people get vaccinated, germs cannot spread from person to person as quickly and the vast majority of people will not get sick. This is what is known as herd immunity. Herd immunity protects everyone, especially those people who cannot receive a vaccine for one reason or another, those who do not have a strong immune response to vaccines, and those with serious allergies or weakened immune systems.

About COVID-19 Vaccines

Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna have both been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA and are being distributed across the United States.

Although just two (2) vaccines are available in the United States at this time, others are in development. To learn about ongoing trials and new developments, visit the Coronavirus Prevention Network website. The network was formed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Each vaccine will undergo the same stringent FDA review process before it receives approval or EUA, which means the FDA has determined there is substantial evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing a COVID-19 infection.

Before any vaccine is widely distributed to the public, it is tested in clinical trials on tens of thousands of people to determine its safety and efficacy. While development and authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines were accelerated, this does not mean that safety corners were cut; the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines went through the same stringent testing process that other vaccines go through before public dissemination.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have current efficacy rates of 95 and 94 percent, respectively. This means that compared to the placebo group, the vaccine group was protected against the COVID-19 virus 94 to 95 percent of the time. These rates are unusually high for a vaccine.

It is a common misconception that vaccines prevent someone from contracting the virus. Vaccines train the body’s immune system to recognize and fight viruses and bacteria. When the body is exposed to a virus after being vaccinated against it, the body is immediately ready to fight the illness. Because the body is able to respond more quickly, you are less likely to experience symptoms of the illness, especially severe and life-threatening ones.

At this time, there is not enough data about the vaccines to know how long they will provide protection from COVID-19.

Yes. We all need to continue the 3 W’s – wearing a mask, watching your distance and washing your hands regularly – until we know how long the vaccine protects against the virus and we gain community control of COVID-19.

No. The vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna were created with mRNA technology, which uses a gene from the COVID-19 virus, while other vaccines in development use an inactive form of the virus. None of the vaccines currently being tested use a live version of the virus, so a person who receives any of these vaccines cannot contract COVID-19 from the vaccination.

Side effects may vary depending on which vaccine you receive, but some recipients of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have reported fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and pain at the injection site, which is generally the upper arm. Before you receive your vaccine, specific information about your vaccine’s anticipated side effects will be provided to you.

This will depend on the vaccine. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to ensure full protection – an initial vaccination and a booster shot of the same brand of vaccine three or four weeks later. Other COVID-19 vaccines are still in clinical trials; some of these may require only one dose.

The State of Texas has prioritized COVID-19 vaccination by placing patients in phases. Keep in mind, due to limited availability of the vaccine, it will likely take several months for all individuals within these phases to receive vaccination.

Included in Phase 1A are frontline healthcare workers.

Included in Phase 1B are:

  • People 65 years of age and older, and
  • People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
    • Solid organ transplantation
    • Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Additional information about the vaccines can be found in the FDA's fact sheets for the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine, as well as the FDA’s website.

Getting Vaccinated At Memorial Hermann

Individuals will not get to choose which COVID-19 vaccine they receive at Memorial Hermann. The vaccine we administer is determined by our current allocation from the State.

Yes. At this time, in compliance with state guidelines and based on our current vaccine allocation, Memorial Hermann is able to offer the vaccine to select groups of individuals who:

  • qualify for the State’s Phase 1A (including frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities) or
  • are established, active Memorial Hermann Medical Group (MHMG) patients (individuals who have had an office visit with either an MHMG primary care physician or an MHMG specialist within the past two years) and
  • qualify for the State’s Phase 1B (individuals who are 65 years of age and older).

We will offer vaccination to additional patient groups and members of our community based on available supply of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Due to limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, Memorial Hermann is taking a staged approach to vaccinating patients who meet the State’s Phase 1B criteria. We have started with specific, qualified patient populations, and will work our way through the groups of qualified individuals, carefully and diligently, until we have offered vaccination to all within the phase.

Patients who qualify will receive a single-use, personalized schedule link via email when appointments are available for them. It is important to note that this process will take some time, likely several months. But we are committed to making vaccination available to all who are currently eligible, and eventually to all patients and members of the community.

Due to limited supply of the vaccine, we ask that you do not share the invitation with friends or family members unless otherwise stated. Memorial Hermann will make the vaccine available to additional patient populations and members of the community as soon as possible.

Due to limited supply, Memorial Hermann is first offering vaccination to active, established patients who meet the State’s Phase 1B criteria; then we will open vaccination to the general community. It will take some time, perhaps months, to vaccinate all of the Memorial Hermann patients who are eligible. When we are able to vaccinate additional members of the community, we will publicize the vaccine’s availability through multiple channels.

Memorial Hermann is actively working to expand our capacity and open additional appointments as we receive additional allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine. When appointments are available, eligible patients will receive a single-use, personalized scheduling link via email.

When you scheduled your vaccination, you should have received an automated confirmation message from Clockwise MD. First, try to locate this confirmation in your email.

  • Search your email for “Clockwise” or the phrase “visit confirmation.”
  • Check your spam folder.

First, locate your appointment confirmation email, which was sent from Clockwise MD when you scheduled your vaccination. At the bottom of this message you will find links to cancel or reschedule your visit.

You do not need to take action to make sure your vaccination is registered. Memorial Hermann will report all vaccinations to ImmTrac2, the statewide immunization registry. That record will contain the details of your vaccination – the brand of vaccine you received, for instance, and when you receive the second dose – and can be accessed later by medical professionals.

We have implemented measures to ensure the vaccine is being offered only to individuals who are currently eligible for vaccination. From this point forward, each patient’s invitation will include a personalized scheduling link that cannot be shared or forwarded to others.