Who should get a COVID-19 vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that everyone ages 6 months and older should get a primary COVID-19 vaccine series. Additionally, everyone ages 5 years and older, should receive a booster with the COVID-19 vaccine if eligible.
Which COVID-19 vaccine should I get?
The following vaccines are currently available for the prevention of COVID-19:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (brand name Comirnaty) is an mRNA vaccine that is FDA approved for ages 5 years and older and is authorized under the EUA for ages 6 months to 4 years
- Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine (brand name Spikevax) is an mRNA vaccine that is FDA approved for ages 18 years and older and is authorized under the EUA for ages 6 months to 17 years.
- Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is an adenovirus vaccine authorized under the EUA for ages 18 years and older.
- Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine is a “traditional” protein-based vaccine that is authorized under the EUA for ages 18 years and older. Novavax cannot be used as a booster shot in people who previously received a COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccines are given as a 1-3 dose primary series depending on the vaccine and age. Booster doses are recommended for some vaccines. For more information on vaccine dosing for different ages, including booster recommendations, please refer to the CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations.
Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available. If your provider is not giving COVID-19 vaccines, you can visit Vaccines.gov to find a vaccine location near you. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccine may be available through your county’s health department. Please see below for county health department links.
- Contra Costa
- El Dorado
- San Francisco
- San Joaquin
- San Mateo
- Santa Clara
Veterans, Spouses and Caregivers of Veterans that are currently enrolled with the VA can get COVID-19 Vaccines through the Palo Alto VA.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
COVID-19 vaccines were tested in large clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards. Many people were recruited to participate in these trials to see how the vaccines offer protection to people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully reviews all safety data from the clinical trials and authorizes emergency vaccine use only when the expected benefits outweigh the potential risks.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines?
Yes, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as your other scheduled vaccines.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. The vaccine teaches our immune system to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Your body may take several weeks to build immunity after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. That means it is possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination. This is because the vaccine did not have enough time to build protection. You are considered “fully vaccinated” and therefore protected about 2 weeks after your last vaccine (after the 2nd Moderna or Pfizer BioNTech vaccine or after the 1st Janssen vaccine).
What are the possible side effects?
People may have mild side effects from the vaccine. Most do not have serious problems after being vaccinated. Your arm may be sore, red, or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. Some people report getting a headache, chills, or a fever after getting a vaccine. These side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It is working and building up protection against disease.
The risk of a rare blood clotting disorder called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) has been reported following vaccination with the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly all of those affected have been women ages 18 to 49 years old, with the condition happening at a rate of 7 for every 1 million vaccinated women in this age group. This condition is very rare, and the CDC and FDA have since recommended that the use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine resume effective because the benefits outweigh the risks.
Myocarditis, a serious adverse side effect, has been reported in some people receiving the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The highest risk of myocarditis is in males ages 12-29 years. Because myocarditis is rare, the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks according to Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC. Waiting 8 weeks between the first and second shot can help decrease the risk of myocarditis.
Is the vaccine safe for my child?
Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine approved for children 5 years and older. Studies in children and adolescents have shown the COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective under the most intensive safety monitoring. Like adults, your child may have some side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. These side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities but should go away in a few days. If you or your child experiences chest pain, shortness of breath, or feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heartbeat, within a few days of receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you should seek medical attention right away. There are very rare reports of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart) after the second dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. The problem occurs more often in male adolescents and young adults but is mainly mild and resolves quickly. Whereas patients infected with the COVID-19 had 16 times the risk for myocarditis as patients without the disease.
Why should my child get vaccinated against COVID-19?
COVID-19 vaccines can help protect your child from getting COVID-19. Although COVID-19 in children is sometimes milder than in adults, some kids can develop severe lung infections, become very sick and require hospitalization. In addition, children can still be infected and spread the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccinating your child can help protect your child, family, and community. It can also help keep your child in school and participate in the things your child enjoys. COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized for children 5–17 years of age.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or considering becoming pregnant?
Yes, CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated. You may want to talk to your doctor to help you decide whether to get vaccinated. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy or fertility problems.
Will I have to pay to get the vaccine?
No, there is no cost to get the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of insurance status. However, there are some COVID-19 scams where people have used telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to get patient information or to ask for payment. COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone.
Where can I find out more information about the COVID vaccine?
For more information about the COVID vaccine, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.