COVID-19 Vaccine Info

Gila River Health Care recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older and boosters for everyone 5 years and older, if eligible.

Eligibility Guidelines

GRIC and Ak-Chin Indian Community tribal enrolled members and their household members (regardless of tribal affiliation), all federally recognized members, GRIC essential employees and their household members, and community enterprise employees and their household members.

COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

Ages 6 Months – 4 Years Old:

Option for getting your child vaccinated:

• By appointment only with same-day appointments available

To schedule an appointment, call (520) 562-3321 Ext. 7337

Ages 5 Years and Above:
Options for getting your child vaccinated:

• Walk-in at any Primary Care Department

• Schedule an appointment with the Primary Care Department

• Walk in at any Community Vaccine Event

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Eligibility

First Booster (3rd Dose)

Everyone ages 5 years and older should get their first booster after five (5) months of completing their COVID vaccine primary series.

Second Booster (4th Dose)

Adults ages 50 years and older should receive their second booster after four (4) months of completing the first booster dose (3rd dose).


Other Booster Eligibility For Special Populations:

    •  Second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is available at least 4 months after the first Janssen booster dose for adults ages             18-49 years (those who received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine as their primary series dose and first booster dose).


    •  Second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is available at least 4 months after the first booster dose for people ages 12 years           and older with weakened immune systems.

Vaccine Updates

Novavax Vaccine Now Available

Novavax is a protein subunit vaccine and manufactured utilizing the same technology used for decades in vaccines for influenza, Hepatitis B and HPV.

• Two (2) dose series

• Three (3) to (8) eight weeks apart

Who is eligible for the vaccine?

• Individuals 12 years and older

Who can receive it?

• Individuals  who have not had a previous COVID-19 vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

What does immunocompromised mean?

The immune system is responsible for protecting you against germs, bacteria, viruses, and other invaders that can make you sick. “Immunocompromised” means a person has a weakened immune system or may be taking medications or therapies that suppress their immune system and make them vulnerable to infections.


Why are people with a weakened immune system (immunocompromised) especially vulnerable to COVID-19?

They may not have enough protection against COVID-19 after just 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the protection they do have from receiving the vaccine may decline over time.


If I am immunocompromised and may have encountered someone with COVID-19, what should I do?

Get tested immediately if you are having symptoms or someone in your household tested positive for COVID-19. If someone in your home has tested positive, isolate yourself from that individual. For COVID-19 exposures outside of the home, test 3-5 days after exposure. Timely detection of the COVID-19 virus is needed for appropriate treatment of patients with weakened immune systems.


Who is considered to be moderately or severely immunocompromised?

    •  Those receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
    •  If you received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
    •  Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
    •  Moderate or severe primary immunocompromising conditions  (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
    •  Advanced or untreated HIV infection
    •  Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
Should immunocompromised people get an additional 3rd shot?
After getting your first and second COVID-19 shots, moderately or severely immunocompromised people should get an additional primary shot (3rd shot).
Who should get the Booster Shot (4th shot)?
Immunocompromised people ages 12 and above, should get a booster shot (4th shot), 5 months after additional primary shot (3rd shot).
COVID-19 recommended schedule for people with moderate to severe immunocompromise:

IMPORTANT: Contact your primary care provider, Rheumatologist, organ transplant doctor or Oncologist/cancer doctor for any questions and to determine if you qualify for the 4th dose (sometimes referred to as a 2nd booster) of COVID-19 vaccine.


Clarification of Existing Recommendation for mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Primary Series:

    •  People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive:
            – Three (3) dose primary series
            – One (1) booster dose

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) support the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in all women over the age of 16 including those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or actively trying to become pregnant.


How does the COVID-19 vaccine work? Pfizer and Moderna:
The messenger RNA vaccines do not contain a live virus or interact with genetic material DNA or enter the nucleus of a cell. The vaccine mimics how viruses work. The vaccine has the “recipe” for a small piece of the spike protein of the virus. This will cause the body to recognize it as foreign and lead to an immune response.
Why should I receive the vaccine while pregnant?
Pregnant individuals are at increased risk for severe illness and outcomes with COVID-19 infections. They are 3 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU and placed on a ventilator and 2 times more likely to die if pregnant and infected with the COVID-19 virus. Additional health issues including obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure increase the risk of severe illness.
Is there a live virus in the vaccine? Will it give me COVID?
No, no live virus in the vaccine and in turn will not give people COVID.
What side effects can I expect with the COVID-19 vaccine?
Because the vaccine works by activating our immune system, you may experience some side effects including pain and swelling at injection site, fever, body aches etc for several days. You may take acetaminophen/Tylenol for symptoms.
Will the vaccine induce a positive test?
No you will not have a + PCR test due to receiving the vaccine. Over time you will have + antibodies as a result of the vaccine, unable to tell if the antibodies are from the vaccine or previous infection.
May I receive the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
Yes. The FDA issued the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and has maintained that the vaccine may be administered to pregnant and lactating patients if they chose. ACOG and SMFM both support administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to all women over the age of 16 including pregnant and breastfeeding individuals.
There is limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people who are pregnant.  The available data from the DART studies (Data from Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity-DART) are ongoing and do not demonstrate any contraindications. Because mRNA vaccines do not interact with genetic material DNA or enter the nucleus of the cell, it cannot alter human DNA.
Will getting the vaccine while pregnant cause any genetic problems for my baby?
No. The mRNA vaccine is not a live virus vaccine and does not enter the nucleus of a cell.  The vaccine cannot alter human DNA, as a result cannot cause any genetic changes. Because there are no safety data specific to mRNA vaccine use in pregnant or lactating individuals, the potential risk of receiving the vaccine is unknown. The available animal studies so far have not demonstrated any major safety issues. (Data from Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity-DART)
Can I breastfeed my baby if I get the vaccine?
Yes. There is no reason to believe that the vaccine can affect the safety of breastmilk. The vaccine does not contain a live virus so there is no risk of your breastmilk containing the virus. Your immune system will create antibodies that will pass into the breast milk and help to protect your baby from infection.
Who recommends the vaccine for pregnant individuals?
    •  ACOG (American college of Obstetrics and Gynecologists)
    •  SMFM (Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine)
Both of these national colleges recommend that the vaccine should not be withheld from pregnant and lactating individuals who meet criteria for the vaccination.
Should I receive the vaccine if I’ve previously been diagnosed with COVID-19?
Yes. The vaccine should be offered regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Should I receive the vaccine if I am actively trying to become pregnant?
Yes. You do not need to have a pregnancy test prior to receiving the vaccination. The vaccine is recommended for all women over 16 years of age who are pregnant, lactating or actively trying to become pregnant.  There are no trimester-specific vaccine considerations at this time.
1. CDC MMMR Update: Characteristics of Symptomatic Women of Reproductive Age with Laborato-ry-Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection by Pregnancy Status, United States, January 22-Octover 3, 2020. 11/6/2020/69 (44): 1641-1647.
2. ACOG Vaccinating Pregnant and Lactating Patients Against COVID-19 Practice Advisory 12/13/20.
3. SMFM Statement: SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination in Pregnancy 12/1/20.
4. SMFM Experts in High Risk Pregnancy Respond to the FDA’s Decision to Offer the Newly Approved COVID-19 Vaccine to Pregnant and Lactating People 12/11/20 org/media/2632/FDA_final.pdf
5. SMFM Provider Considerations for Engaging in COVID-19 Vaccination Consideration 12/15/20.  file:///U:/Downloads/Provider_Considerations_for_Engaging_in_COVID_Vaccination_Consider-ations_12-15-20_(final).pdf