Patient getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot from a UT Health RGV provider

What Should I Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Vaccines are vital to fighting deadly infectious diseases. When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to you, we strongly encourage that you receive it.

The COVID-19 Vaccine is a fast-evolving situation, and details of the complex vaccination program are still being worked out. As always, UT Health RGV will continue to share as much information as we can, as quickly as we can to best serve you and your family during this time.

Is eligibility to receive the vaccine dependent on Texas Residency?

No, no one will be denied a vaccine by UT Health RGV based on residency or immigration status.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

UT Health RGV is administering the COVID-19 vaccine as directed by UT System. Phase 1A of the vaccine, based on guidance from CDC and Texas Department of State Health Services, will focus on protecting health care workers that are essential to preserving our health care system in order to continue caring for COVID-19 and other patients during this initial phase when the supply of the vaccine is limited. Phase 1B focuses on specific groups who are most vulnerable at the moment, see qualifying groups below. For the latest information on the different phases of the vaccine visit the CDC website.

Patient getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot from a UT Health RGV provider
COVID-19 Vaccine Phases Infographic

Texas DSHS COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Guiding Principles and Phase Definitions:

Phase 2 - Coming Later

Download Vaccine Phases Infographic

COVID-19 Vaccine Phases

Updated as of December 28, 2020.

UTRGV and UT Health RGV are following the guidance of the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services for vaccine allocation decisions, including identifying groups that should be vaccinated first to provide the most protection to vulnerable populations. This is subject to change and pending detailed guidance on prioritization for other qualifying populations.

Phase 1A - QUALIFIED NOW

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Physician's Assistants
  • Health Care Facility Support Staff
  • Laboratory Technicians
  • Pharmacists
  • Other Patient-Facing Clinical Staff
  • Long-term Care Facility Staff
  • EMS 9-1-1 Care and Transport
  • Home Health Care and Hospice Workers
  • Residents of Long-term Care Facilities
  • Front-line Vaccination and Testing Staff
  • Last Responders
  • Funeral Home Workers
  • Medical Examiners
  • School Nurses

Phase 1B - QUALIFIED NOW

People Age 65+

People Age 16+ with at least one qualifying chronic medical condition including:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Immunocompromised diseases
  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Chronic heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic neurological diseases
  • Obesity (BMI 30 and above). See BMI Calculator
  • Pregnancy

Details on Medical Conditions

Cancer

Diabetes, such as but not limited to:

  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

Chronic kidney disease, such as but not limited to:

  • glomerulonephritis
  • polycystic kidney disease

Immunocompromised diseases and states, such as but not limited to:

  • HIV
  • cancer
  • weakened immune system from blood, bone marrow, or organ transplant
  • use of corticosteroids
  • use of other immune weakening medicines
  • use of stem cells for cancer treatment
  • genetic immune deficiencies

Chronic lung diseases, such as but not limited to:

  • asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • cystic fibrosis
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • sleep apnea

Sickle cell disease

Chronic heart disease, such as but not limited to:

  • heart failure
  • coronary artery disease
  • cardiomyopathies

High blood pressure (hypertension)

Chronic neurological diseases, such as but not limited to:

Obesity

Pregnancy

UT Health RGV provider performing a checkup on a child with a stethoscope

What Are the Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine?

COVID-19 can cause severe medical complications and lead to death in some people. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. If you get COVID-19, you could spread the disease to family, friends and others around you.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you by creating an antibody response in your body without you having to become sick with COVID-19.

A COVID-19 vaccine might prevent you from getting COVID-19. Or, if you get COVID-19, the vaccine might keep you from becoming seriously ill or from developing serious complications.

Getting vaccinated also might help protect people around you from COVID-19, particularly people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

UT Health RGV provider wearing personal protective equipment while speaking with a female patient

Are the Vaccines Safe? Yes.

Overall, vaccines are very safe. The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority as we work to make a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine(s) available. After a vaccine is authorized or approved for use, many vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for adverse events (possible side effects). This continued monitoring can pick up on adverse events that may not have been seen in clinical trials.

If an unexpected adverse event is seen, experts quickly study it further to assess whether it is a true safety concern. Experts then decide whether changes are needed in U.S. vaccine recommendations. This monitoring is critical to help ensure that the benefits continue to outweigh the risks for people who receive vaccines. As of this time, the only absolute reason to not get the COVID-19 vaccine is a previous severe allergic reaction to vaccine ingredients.

When and Where Can I Expect To Get the Vaccine?

UT Health RGV has been working with federal, state and local authorities, as well as area hospitals on plans for the Rio Grande Valley, including how the FDA-approved vaccines will be distributed and the order in which people may receive the vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be limited and will be prioritized based on guidance from the CDC, which recommends vaccinating healthcare workers, first responders and support staff. As the vaccine is distributed across the country and worldwide, we will have additional information about distribution at selected UT Health RGV locations.

Please remember, these vaccines give us hope, but the vaccine alone will not end the pandemic. We must all continue taking safety precautions to reduce the spread of the virus. This includes wearing a mask, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and physical and social distancing.


Frequently Asked Questions

For additional questions regarding the COVID-19 Vaccine, please email covidvaccine@utrgv.edu, or visit CDC Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination.