Last Update: Feb 9 2021
Harris County registration: Waitlist
Sign up for Harris County alerts: I'm told you will be notified when there is open signup available. Act right away if you get a text.
Houston Methodist Hospital. At the bottom of this page is a signup link for patients 75 and over.
Houston Methodist Hospital, patients under 75: Depends on availability.
St. Luke's. sign-up form, you will be contacted when a vaccine is available for you.
Here is a website with a map that helps you find nearby vaccine providers and the number of doses they have on-site. Might or might not be helpful.
Update Feb 9, 2021
We are seeing more and more patients reporting success with getting the vaccine. Most are through Methodist, Harris County, or other city municipalities.
Several patients of all ages have told us they signed up online for Harris County alerts and received a text just before a signup opportunity and were able to get an appointment.
Others have said they "just got lucky."
Frequently asked questions these days:
I'm worried about having a severe reaction to the vaccine.
Most reactions are mild, or flu-like symptoms, for up to a few days, more commonly after the 2nd dose. Remember that this reaction is your body's response to seeing the spike protein that you are manufacturing, and is a sign that you are making an immune response - which is the point of the vaccine to begin with!
Severe reactions (anaphylaxis) are exceedingly rare and have been reported at a rate of 11 per million (Pfizer) and 2.5 per million (Moderna), Most vaccination sites ask you to stay 15-30 minutes for observation after your injection.
After I get the vaccine series, when do I have immunity?
You can be considered fully vaccinated by 1-2 weeks after the second dose. However keep in mind that no vaccine is 100% effective so one still has to take precautions. Particularly those who have just had the first vaccination - many have let their guard down and come down with the virus.
After I get the vaccine series and have immunity, can I still transmit the virus to others who do not have immunity?
The answer to this important question is unclear at this time. Another reason to maintain masking and social distancing practices.
What is going on with these viral mutations?
All viruses mutate, and coronaviruses are no exception. The currently available vaccines and antibody therapies are still effective against the known new variants. Though there may be a slight decrease in efficacy when studied in a lab, it's thought that the overall efficacy of available vaccines and therapies in humans will be more than enough to fight off these mutations.
However, the longer the virus runs rampant in the community, the more opportunity there is for new mutations to develop. The virus actually mutates 3x slower than Influenza, but given the speed at which it can spread, and the number of potential human hosts, new mutations may certainly arise. With ongoing mutations developing, a further decrease in present vaccine and therapeutic effectiveness is theoretically possible. As a result, annual booster vaccines may be necessary for several years to cover new mutations.
Jan 4 2021
We have been getting a lot of calls these days about the covid vaccine. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions.
I’m a heart patient. Should I get the vaccine?
YES! Many of our patients are at elevated risk for a severe course should they contract COVID-19 and we are recommending the vaccine to everyone. This includes patients on blood thinners, and we do not suggest holding any blood thinners prior to vaccine. It’s a very tiny needle! The only exceptions may be those with a history of severe allergy or anaphylaxis to vaccine components.
Which vaccine should I get?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both available, and we don’t have a specific suggestion regarding whether to get one or the other - It's best to get whichever one you are offered.
What about side effects?
Hundreds of thousands of people have received the vaccines thus far. Side effects have certainly been reported, particularly with the 2nd dose. Significant side effects have occurred in the minority of patients, and they are typically mild. Keep in mind that all medications and vaccinations have potential side effects if you read the fine print, and like any therapeutic one has to weigh the risk of side effects versus the potential benefit. In this case, given the rapid transmission and potentially lethal outcome of COVID-19, I strongly advise all of our patients to get vaccinated as soon as one is offered to you. Keep in mind that we don’t know if there will be supply chain issues in the future so if you have the opportunity I would suggest getting it as soon as possible rather than waiting.
Can I get COVID from this vaccine?
While some vaccines are inactivated or weakened viruses, these mRNA vaccines are different. They simply deliver a set of instructions for your body to make the spike protein located on the outer surface or the virus. The vaccines do not deliver any form of the virus itself. Based on these instructions, your cells then make spike proteins. In response, your body then makes antibodies and T-cell responses to these spike proteins. Therefore, if you encounter these proteins again on the surface of an actual virus, the immune system is prepared and can fight it off. That is why these vaccines are so effective. There is no risk of getting the virus from these vaccines.
How will vaccines be administered?
Here is what we know:
(1) Vaccines will be mostly administered by hospital systems and pharmacies rather than small private offices. We will not be administering the vaccine in our office.
(2) At this time, we have no way of communicating your 'status' to any vaccine-administering organizations. According to national and local guidelines, patients will most likely be offered the vaccine in the following order.
(a) patients over 75
(b) patients 65-74
(c) patients under 65 with certain comorbidities
(d) healthy people under 65
(3) Patients who have been seen at Methodist over the last 2 years and are over 75 are now being contacted by Methodist to schedule their vaccine. Patients seen by St Lukes will likely be called soon, but we don’t yet have details on that. We are not sure of the UT/ Hermann plans. We also don’t know when these facilities will be able to move on to vaccinating lower-risk groups.
(4) Here are some links to local institutions that will be offering vaccines to the public in 2021. Again, we don't know how any of these organizations will be appraised of an individual patient's candidacy for vaccine status. Some will allow you to sign up for updates which may hopefully clarify things going forward.
Here are some common questions people have, answered by Houston Methodist. Some of the questions are more towards employees, but are still relevant:
We hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions about getting vaccination for COVID-19, please contact your primary care physician.
What a year 2020 was. Thank you for entrusting us with your cardiac care. See you in 2021.