COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Current NYS vaccination phase: 1B

This page last updated: 04/20/2021

New appointment openings have been posted for Thursday 4/22 and Friday 4/23.

Please read the following information carefully before proceeding.

Our aim is to inform you as much as possible as we prepare to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines.

There are few easy and short answers to the questions you may have, as this is one of the largest and most complex public health operations ever undertaken.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will not be as simple and straightforward as a flu shot, which is why the process is so complicated and this document so long.

The first half of this document addresses several of the most common questions, as well as an outline of how to set up an appointment to receive a vaccine.

The second half is a FAQ section that goes into greater depth on a number of related topics.

This page will be updated regularly as conditions change.

Follow our Facebook page for more updates and news.

If you have any remaining questions not answered by this document, please address them to RRRxLogistics@Gmail.com
We ask that you avoid calling the pharmacy directly with vaccine-related questions, if at all possible.

 

With the advent of numerous other providers, state-run sites, and pop-up community clinics in the area, we are modifying our appointment allocation method. More information about this below.

 

Who is eligible to receive a vaccine?

The New York State Department of Health has developed a strategy for phased distribution of the vaccines, as found on the NYS COVID-19 Vaccine Information Website.

Keep in mind that these criteria are inclusive of all providers within New York – pharmacists may only immunize a subset of these. 

Eligible New Yorkers in Phase 1a and 1b are:

  • High-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff)
  • Residents and staff at nursing homes and other congregate care facilities
  • Federally Qualified Health Center employees
  • EMS workers
  • Coroners, medical examiners and certain funeral workers
  • Staff and residents at OPWDD, OMH and OASAS facilities
  • Urgent Care providers
  • Individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff
  • All Outpatient/Ambulatory front-line, high-risk health care workers of any age who provide direct in-person patient care
  • All staff who are in direct contact with patients (i.e., intake staff)
  • All front-line, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients, including those conducting COVID-19 tests, handling COVID-19 specimens and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Staff of nursing homes/skilled nursing facilities who did not receive COVID vaccination through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program

Beginning January 11, 2021:

  • Individuals Age 65 and older
  • First Responder and Support Staff for First Responder Agencies
    • Fire Service
      • State Fire Service, including firefighters and investigators (professional and volunteer)
      • Local Fire Services, including firefighters and investigators (professional and volunteer)
    • Police and Investigators
      • State Police, including Troopers
      • State Park Police, DEC Police, Forest Rangers
      • SUNY Police
      • Sheriffs’ Offices
      • County Police Departments and Police Districts
      • City, Town, and Village Police Departments
      • Transit of other Public Authority Police Departments
      • State Field Investigators, including Department of Motor Vehicles, State Commission of Correction, Justice Center, Department of Financial Services, Inspector General, Department of Tax and Finance, Office of Children and Family Services, and State Liquor Authority
    • Public Safety Communications
      • Emergency Communication and Public Safety Answering Point Personnel, including dispatchers and technicians
    • Other Sworn and Civilian Personnel
      • Court Officers
      • Other Police or Peace Officers
      • Support or Civilian Staff for Any of the above services, agencies, or facilities
  • Corrections
    • State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Personnel, including correction and parole officers
    • Local Correctional Facilities, including correction officers
    • Local Probation Departments, including probation officers
    • State Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities
    • Local Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities
  • In-person college instructors
  • P-12 Schools
    • P-12 school or school district faculty or staff (includes all teachers, substitute teachers, student teachers, school administrators, paraprofessional staff and support staff including bus drivers)
    • Contractors working in a P-12 school or school district (including contracted bus drivers)
  • Licensed, registered, approved or legally exempt group Childcare Providers
  • Employees or Support Staff of Licensed or Registered Childcare Setting
  • Grocery store workers, including convenience store and bodega workers
  • Public Transit
    • Airline and airport employees
    • Passenger railroad employees
    • Subway and mass transit employees (i.e., MTA, LIRR, Metro North, NYC Transit, Upstate transit)
    • Ferry employees
    • Port Authority employees
    • Public bus employees
  • Individuals living in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared with individuals and families who are not part of the same household
  • Individual working (paid or unpaid) in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared by individuals and families who are not part of the same household, in a position where there is potential for interaction with shelter residents

Beginning February 15, 2021:

Adult New Yorkers of any age with the following conditions qualify for the vaccine:

  • Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
  • Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (BMI > 30 kg/m2 but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus 
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia
  • Liver disease

Beginning March 10, 2021:

  • Age limit reduced from 65 to 60 years of age for adults without comorbidities 
  • Pharmacists now permitted to immunize P-12 school or school district faculty or staff (includes all teachers, substitute teachers, student teachers, school administrators, paraprofessional staff and support staff including bus drivers)

Beginning March 23, 2021:

  • Age limit reduced from 60 to 50 years of age for adults without comorbidities. 

Beginning March 30, 2021:

  • Age limit reduced from 50 to 30 years of age for adults without comorbidities. 

Beginning April 6, 2021:

  • Age limit reduced from 30 to 16 years of age for adults without comorbidities. 
    NOTE: only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in individuals aged 16 and 17.
    The Moderna vaccine may only be administed to individuals 18 and up.

This list is subject to change as additional scientific evidence is published and as New York State obtains and analyzes additional state-specific data.

 

Riverside Remedies is located in New York, but I live in Pennsylvania. Can I still get the vaccine?

Individuals who reside in Pennsylvania and are employed in New York are eligible to receive the vaccine, as long as all other criteria are met.

 

Are the vaccines safe?

Yes. Our participation in administering these vaccines is voluntary, and we will not provide any immunization (or medication, for that matter) that we feel is dangerous or lacks the scientific data sufficient to demonstrate its safety. Both vaccines are safe and effective.

That said, every medicine carries a risk of possible side effects. It is important to weigh the benefits a therapy might provide against what might go wrong, and how likely the chances are for each outcome. It is also important to evaluate whether the chance of contracting COVID-19, or spreading it to someone you love, is in the same category of risk as having a sore arm or a headache for a day.

After all, the inconveniences we have experienced during this pandemic – wearing masks, social distancing, disruption of our daily routines – is not to protect us as individuals. It is to protect everyone else around us, and by each doing their part, the entire community benefits. These vaccines represent just another extension of that philosophy: if we can each tolerate a bit more discomfort and inconvenience, the most vulnerable among will be are protected.

Refer to our FAQ at the end of this page for more information on this topic.

 

How are the vaccines administered?

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require a two-dose sequence to confer maximum immunity. It is administered into the deltoid muscle (the upper outer portion of your arm, same location as a flu shot). 

The interval between doses for the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days, and 28 days for the Moderna vaccine.

The second dose must be administered as closely as possible to the recommended interval, and there is very little room for deviating from that schedule. Please plan accordingly.

The two-dose vaccines are not interchangeable. You must return to your original provider to receive your second dose.

After receiving your first dose, you will receive a vaccination card specifying which vaccine was administered, where, and when. Bring this card with you to your second appointment.

 

Things to consider before scheduling an appointment:

If you are feeling ill, please defer your appointment until you have recovered.

Guidelines recommend against receiving another vaccine within two weeks (before or after) a COVID-19 vaccine, to avoid potentially compromising efficacy of either. Take note of any recent vaccines and plan your appointment accordingly.

 

How do I get my vaccine at Riverside Remedies?

The vaccines allocated to us by the Department of Health will be under strict scrutiny to minimize loss and ensure that we are utilizing as many doses as have been provided.

To that end, we need an accurate headcount to determine how many vaccines to request each week.

Step 1: Check eligibility.

  • Refer to the information above to make sure you’re eligible to receive the vaccine.

Step 2: Check availability.

  • Click the green button below to search for open appointments. 
  • Appointment days are usually Thursday through Saturday each week.
  • We are only administering the Moderna vaccine at this time; make sure your schedule 28 days after your appointment will not conflict. Second dose appointments cannot be moved, postponed, delayed, or cancelled.
  • If you cannot make any of the available appointment slots, there will be an option to defer your appointment to the next available round.
    You will not lose your place in line or forfeit your vaccine if you need to postpone. We will get you in as soon as possible.
  • Do not submit your appointment request unless you are 100% satisfied with your date and time selection. 

Step 3: Receive your first dose.

  • On the day before or morning of your appointment:
  • Arrive at the pharmacy no more than five minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. If you are early, please wait in your car to reduce congestion inside the pharmacy.
  • Please wear a mask and practice social distancing; other patients will be inside the pharmacy for prescriptions or vaccines.
  • After receiving the vaccine, you will be given an immunization card recording the vaccine manufacturer, date, location administered, and provider. Do not lose this card.
  • Your second appointment date is automatically scheduled upon administration of the vaccine. It will be the same time as your first appointment.

Step 3: Receive your second dose.

  • Return to Riverside Remedies on the date indicated on the back of your vaccine card, at the same time of day as your first appointment.
    If anything should change (e.g. change of immunization site or appointment time or day), we will contact you well in advance.
  • Print and complete the Vaccine Consent Form again. We cannot reuse your original form as the screening questionnaire section is date-specific.
  • Bring your vaccine card to the second appointment to be updated. We cannot reissue replacement cards.

After that, you will have been fully immunized and contributed in your part to ending this pandemic, and we thank you.

 

Get Started:

Click this button to schedule an appointment:

Create an Appointment

Add RRRxLogistics@Gmail.com and RiversideRemedies@Gmail.com to your trusted contacts to prevent these messages from going to spam.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the vaccines safe? (Continued)

These two links from the CDC for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines illustrate the range and severity of reported side effects versus placebo. They are the same sorts of reactions present for any vaccine: predominantly pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, as well as a variety of less common systemic reactions. You will note that the most serious systemic reactions are evenly divided between the vaccine groups and their placebos.

Visit the CDC’s webpage on COVID-19 vaccine safety and side effects for additional information.

 

How many COVID-19 vaccines are currently available?

As of now, three manufacturers have received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA to distribute COVID-19 vaccines: Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Janssen.

Moderna is an American biotechnology company, manufacturing their vaccines in Norwood, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Pfizer is also an American company, who for their vaccine partnered with the German company BioNTech SE. Production for the US market is at three facilities: Andover, Massachusetts; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and St. Louis, Missouri.

Janssen is a pharmaceutical company owned by Johnson & Johnson. Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, this is single-dose vaccine, albeit less effective.

 

I’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered. Can I/Should I get the vaccine?

Yes. Individuals who have already recovered from a past infection should still receive the vaccine, as we do not know how long natural immunity lasts after infection.

Additionally, COVID-19 infections vary dramatically in severity, from completely asymptomatic cases to protracted ICU care. The symptoms you may have experienced cannot be used as a yardstick to predict the strength of immunity you may have now, or how long it will last into the future.

 

Can I stop wearing a mask after receiving the first (or second) dose?

No, you should continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.

As with any vaccine, some amount of time is necessary for your immune system to react. It will take four to six weeks from the date of your first dose before you achieve the level of immunity seen during the clinical trials. Don’t let your guard down when we are this close to the finish line.

 

Is one dose sufficient? What happens if I miss the second dose?

Two doses on the recommended interval are critical for immunity. One dose may afford a reasonable level of immunity, though it is unknown how long that immunity will last; additionally we are less certain of the risk for a partially-immunized individual to spread the virus to others, even if they are not symptomatic. In other words, after the first dose there is still a chance you could become infected – you might be asymptomatic enough for you to not feel ill, but still capable of infecting others who have not yet been immunized.

Missing or delaying the second dose can jeopardize your immunity, places others around you at risk of infection, and further complicates matters for your provider. Your pharmacist or physician can discuss your options with you in this scenario.

Also consider the following: multiple doses are drawn from the same vial, and each vial must be used or discarded within only a few hours of being opened. Cancelling or missing your dose not only affects you, but also the nine or ten other people whose doses were drawn from the same vial.

In short, make every possible attempt to receive the second dose on time.

 

What ingredients are in the vaccines?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine contains eleven ingredients, including water.

  • The active ingredient is a small fragment of mRNA, which codes for a form of the viral spike protein. This is explained in greater detail in the following section.
  • Four lipids, in a precise mixture to create nanoparticles that envelop and protect the mRNA. The primary lipid can be given a positive charge, which helps it stick to the mRNA (genetic material generally carries a slight negative charge). The mRNA and lipids that envelop it are extremely delicate, which is why this vaccine must be stored at -94° F.
  • Four salts (potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, and dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate), to match the pH and osmolarity of the vaccine to that of the human body. Those familiar with biochemistry might recognize this mixture as phosphate-buffered saline, a common isotonic laboratory buffer used in cell culturing. It is cheap, easy to make, and nontoxic.
  • Sucrose, aka table sugar, used to stabilize the vaccine.

The Moderna vaccine is very similar, albeit with a different mixture of lipids and an acetate buffer instead of a phosphate one. Moderna’s lipid mixture is somewhat less sensitive to temperature extremes and part of why it can be stored in a standard freezer.

Neither vaccine contains any preservatives, egg proteins, thimerosal, fetal tissue, live COVID-19 viral particles, infertility agents, or microchips.

 

How do mRNA vaccines work, and how do they differ from other vaccines?

This is very complicated topic, but here it is as briefly as possible:

With a typical flu vaccine, bits of viral protein are injected into the body for the immune system to respond to. Your standard “policeman-on-the-beat” white blood cells, macrophages, encounter the viral protein, digest it, and carry it to the nearest lymph node to activate B-cells. B-cells are another type of white blood cell that make the antibodies that provide immunity. The next time your immune system encounters that viral flu protein, it already has a store of antibodies ready to go and can fight off the infection before it takes hold.

But this mechanism only involves foreign bits of protein (or bacteria, or viruses) found by a wandering macrophage outside of a cell, in the fluid surrounding your cells. However, your body has an entirely second branch of immune military for infections that occur inside a cell, and it is this alternate system that the COVID-19 vaccines utilize. This new mRNA vaccine technology has actually existed for several decades, but up until now has not been implemented. It is, however, extremely clever.

First, a bit about what mRNA is and how a healthy cell uses it. mRNA is a blueprint, copied from DNA, that tells a cell how to make a specific protein. Every one of your cells is constantly making it’s own mRNA to create the proteins it needs to survive – mechanisms involved in metabolism, replication, mobility, and a host of other specialized functions. mRNA is copied from your own DNA in the cell’s nucleus, transported out of the nucleus, into the cell interior, and transcribed into proteins by structures called ribosomes. The cell controls how much of the desired protein is produced by varying the rate of mRNA production in the nucleus, as any mRNA floating around outside the nucleus is almost immediately digested by proteins called ribonucleases. Importantly, the route mRNA takes out of the nucleus is a one-way door; mRNA cannot enter the nucleus from the outside.

When a virus infects a cell, it hijacks the cell’s internal machinery to do only one thing: to create more copies of the virus. Your cell’s ribosomes don’t necessarily know if a piece of mRNA is foreign or not, so they will happily start transcribing the viral mRNA into viral proteins. Those viral mRNA proteins can be quite varied, depending on the virus in question: structural proteins, more ribosomes to further increase transcription and protein production, ribonuclease inhibitors to stop mRNA degradation, and the proteins that exist on the viral particle’s surface that help it gain entry to the host cell. Pretty soon the cell is wholly consumed with making more viral particles and eventually bursts, spewing new viral particles into the surrounding tissue which then go on to infect more cells. Your immune system has to play catch-up from that point on – macrophages have to arrive, activate B-cells, etc. – a process that takes considerable time, and until your immune system can turn the tide, you feel ill.

With the COVID-19 vaccines, a snippet of mRNA is delivered to your cells for transcription, but with a crucial difference: the vaccine mRNA is mostly missing, and it encodes for only a single viral protein – the spike protein. (These are the club-shaped protrusions you’ve probably seen on depictions of the COVID-19 virus; they make contact with your cells and allow the virus to enter.)  As a result, your cells transcribe the fragment of spike protein mRNA as usual, but very soon the mRNA is digested by your own ribonucleases and the cell returns to whatever it was doing. The recently transcribed spike proteins are digested, as they are of no use to the cell, and a few remaining bits of it are attached to another type of specialized cell protein, the MHC Class-I complex.

MHC-I is a cell surface structure that routinely displays bits of protein digested within the cell on the cell’s surface, to interact with another type of white blood cell: the cytotoxic T-cell (aka the “killer” T-cells). These T-cells roam around your body like macrophages, except that they are checking those MHC-I structures to make sure that all the proteins that a cell is displaying on it’s surface are “human.” If a T-cell finds a cell displaying a bunch of foreign proteins on its surface, that means the cell was recently making proteins from non-human genetic material and has an internal infection. The T-cell immediately kicks things into high gear by terminating that cell (as a precaution to prevent it from making any more foreign proteins), and releases a potent mixture of cell-signaling chemicals (called cytokines) to recruit all available immune cells to the area to help. Your immune system treats an infection inside a cell as more serious than one outside a cell, because it is invisible and harder to detect, and thus mounts a more aggressive (and more cohesive) effort to defeat the infection. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccines, your immune system immediately responds at a high level right from the start, so it is that much more prepared when it confronts the actual virus.