Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccines

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1. Is the vaccine available yet?

Los Angeles County is now administering the COVID-19 vaccine to those 12 years and older. Many sites throughout L.A. County are now offering vaccines without an appointment, and have expanded hours to include evenings and weekends. Visit myturn.ca.gov to find a vaccination location near you. L.A. Care and public health agencies recommend that everyone who is eligible get the vaccine. It is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones and for all of us to get back to a more normal life.

2. How much will it cost?

There is no cost to receive the vaccine. If you are asked to pay for the vaccine, report it by calling the L.A. Care COVID-19 information line at (844) 656-7272 (TTY 711).

3. Will children also get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the FDA for children as young as 12 years old. L.A. Care and public health agencies recommend that children who are eligible get the vaccine as soon as possible. Clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 6 months old are now underway. The timing of vaccine availability will depend on the results of the FDA review process and the trials.  Based on the current pace of research, it looks like a COVID-19 vaccine may be available for children 5 to 11 years old by December and for children as young as 6 months old by early 2022. Please keep checking lacare.org/vaccine and L.A. Care social media channels for updates on COVID-19 vaccine availability for children.

4. My first two COVID-19 vaccine doses were Pfizer. Am I eligible for a booster?
The CDC has recommended a booster shot, or third dose, of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for certain high-risk individuals and groups who received their first two doses with Pfizer. The CDC recommends:
  • people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their second Pfizer dose
  • people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their second Pfizer dose
  • people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their second Pfizer dose, based on their individual benefits and risks
  • people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational, long term care or institutional settings may receive a booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their second Pfizer dose, based on their individual benefits and risks
Please check with your provider to confirm if you qualify for and need a booster. COVID-19 vaccine booster doses are not recommended for the general public at this time. For more information, please visit your local health department’s website.
5. My first two COVID-19 vaccine doses were Moderna. Am I eligible for a booster?
If the first two COVID-19 vaccine doses received were Moderna, an additional dose of a Moderna should be considered for people with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition or receipt of immunosuppressive medications or treatments. These conditions and treatments include but are not limited to:
  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Receipt of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection (people with HIV and CD4 cell counts <200/mm3, history of an AIDS-defining illness without immune reconstitution, or clinical manifestations of symptomatic HIV)
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day when administered for ≥2 weeks), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.
Please check with your provider to confirm if you qualify for and need a booster. COVID-19 vaccine booster doses are not recommended for the general public at this time. For more information, please visit your local health department’s website.
6. I was vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson. Am I eligible for a booster?

A booster is not currently recommended for those who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA is still evaluating data on the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in immunocompromised and other high-risk individuals. Please keep checking lacare.org/vaccine and L.A. Care social media channels for updates.

7. How can I get vaccinated?

If you are 12 years and older, you will be able to sign up to get vaccinated at any one of several locations across the county, including a variety of pharmacy locations, community vaccination sites, health systems, participating schools, clinics, and doctor’s offices. Many sites throughout L.A. County are now offering vaccines without an appointment, and have expanded hours to include evenings and weekends. Visit myturn.ca.gov to find a vaccination location near you. Los Angeles County is now administering the COVID-19 vaccine to those 12 and older. You can also access vaccine appointment tools at lacare.org/vaccine or your local public health department’s website. You may also call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health call center at 833-540-0473, daily between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., for help finding a vaccination site near you. Individuals are encouraged to use the website whenever possible to avoid long wait times on the phone.

8. How can I schedule a vaccine appointment?

I am having trouble using the County’s online vaccine appointment scheduling tool. How can I schedule a vaccine appointment? ​

Many sites throughout L.A. County are now offering vaccines without an appointment, and have expanded hours to include evenings and weekends. You may call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health call center at 833-540-0473, daily between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., for help finding a vaccination site near you. Individuals are encouraged to use the website whenever possible to avoid long wait times on the phone.

9. Is the vaccine recommended for all age groups?

No. At this time, only the Pfizer vaccine is recommended for people 12 years and older, and the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are recommended for people 18 years and older. There will be more information later on additional availability of the vaccine for children under 12 years of age as more data is collected. L.A. Care recommends that everyone who is eligible get the vaccine. It is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones and for us all to get back to a more normal life.

10. How does the Johnson and Johnson vaccine compare to the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine?

Like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death and offers the advantage of being a single dose vaccine that is also much easier to administer in the field. Because it is a single dose vaccine, it allows recipients to reach COVID-19 immunity in just two to three weeks, as opposed to five or six weeks, when compared to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. This will help us reach herd immunity against COVID-19 a lot faster.

11. What vaccine brand does L.A. Care recommend?

Public health agencies and L.A. Care recommend that you receive the vaccine that is first available to you so that you can be protected against COVID-19 as soon as possible, and we can reach herd immunity faster. Many sites throughout L.A. County are now offering vaccines without an appointment, and have expanded hours to include evenings and weekends. Visit myturn.ca.gov to find a vaccination location near you.

12. Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. The science behind the vaccines has been underway for more than 20 years and the vaccines were tested in large clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards. In addition, millions of people have safely received the vaccine. Side effects that have been reported from COVID-19 vaccines are generally mild to moderate and go away after one or two days, these include: pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and mild fever. A small percentage of people may experience more severe symptoms, such as swelling of the face, legs, lips or eyes, or sudden and severe shortness of breath, or severe and persistent abdominal pain, leg pain, or headache. Severe adverse reactions to the vaccine usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after being vaccinated. For this reason, you will be asked to stay for a short period of observation after you receive the vaccine. There have been a few cases in which symptoms of a severe adverse reaction were developed up to three weeks after vaccination. Please seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of these symptoms at any time after you’ve been vaccinated. If you experience an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, please report it to the CDC through its V-Safe website, vsafe.cdc.gov.

13. Can a person who had COVID-19 receive the vaccine?

Yes. People who have had the virus should wait until they have recovered from the acute illness (if the person had symptoms) and no longer need to be in isolation.

14. Can someone who gets the COVID-19 vaccine get infected with COVID-19 after being vaccinated?

Yes. A small percentage of people who get immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine can get infected with the virus after they’ve been vaccinated. Because they’ve been vaccinated, their body is better prepared to fight a COVID-19 infection, the virus’ symptoms will be milder than if they had not been vaccinated, and it is highly unlikely that they will need to be hospitalized.

15. What are the side effects of taking the vaccine?

Mild to moderate symptoms sometimes occur when the body makes antibodies from the vaccine. This does not mean you are sick or have COVID-19. Common side effects of this vaccine during clinical trials include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and mild fever. Side effects are generally mild and go away after a day or two. If you experience more severe symptoms, such as swelling of the face, legs, lips or eyes, or develop sudden and severe shortness of breath, or severe and persistent abdominal pain, leg pain, or headache, please seek immediate medical attention.

16. How does the vaccine affect you if you have other health problems, like diabetes?

Trial participants for the vaccines included people with cardiovascular conditions or risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and history of heart attacks. There is no evidence so far to suggest that patients with cardiovascular issues or diabetes experience more side effects than the general population when being vaccinated. Because patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, they should get the first vaccine available to them as soon as possible.

17. What are the long-term side effects of the vaccines?

Since mass vaccination started in early December 2020, hundreds of millions of vaccine doses have been administered in the United States and worldwide in adults and children. Side effects from vaccination have usually occurred within the first few days of getting a vaccine. To date, there have been no documented cases of vaccine side effects beyond three weeks after vaccination. Medical experts, the CDC, and the FDA are actively monitoring reported side effects from vaccinated individuals. L.A. Care will update its website if new information becomes available. Please check lacare.org/vaccine for any updates.

18. What is the vaccine made of?

The information below includes a list of ingredients for each COVID-19 vaccine currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA. The information is from the CDC.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Vaccine

Note: Does not contain: eggs, preservatives, latex

Includes the following ingredients: Recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, citric acid monohydrate, trisodium citrate dihydrate, ethanol, 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD), polysorbate-80, sodium chloride. (Source: CDC)

Moderna Vaccine

NoteDoes not contain: eggs, preservatives, latex

Includes the following ingredients: Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate trihydrate, and sucrose. (Source: CDC)

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

NoteDoes not contain: eggs, preservatives, latex

Includes the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl) azanediyl) bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose. (Source: CDC)

19. Am I fully vaccinated if I received a vaccine other than Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson?

While the United States and its vaccine review committees have only authorized the use of the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, there are other vaccines that are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently, there is no guidance as to whether you should get vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine if you received a different WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine.  Please check with your primary care provider to see if you need to be vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine if you’ve been vaccinated with a vaccine that is not authorized in the United States or approved by the WHO.

20. What are the pros and cons of getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

The benefit of getting the COVID-19 vaccine is protecting ourselves, friends, and family against COVID-19, helping to end the pandemic, and getting back to a more normal life. All three COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA have been shown to prevent COVID-19 disease in ongoing clinical trials. The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown. We do know that getting the virus is much, much worse than getting the vaccine. The virus can cause significant lasting harm and damage to your body, and even death. Side effects that have been reported from COVID-19 vaccines are generally mild to moderate and go away after one or two days, these include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and mild fever. A small percentage of people may experience more severe symptoms, such as swelling of the face, legs, lips or eyes, or sudden and severe shortness of breath, or severe and persistent abdominal pain, leg pain, or headache. Severe adverse reactions to the vaccine usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after being vaccinated. For this reason, you will be asked to stay for a short period of observation after you receive the vaccine. There have been a few cases in which symptoms of a severe adverse reaction were developed up to three weeks after vaccination. Please seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of these symptoms at any time after you’ve been vaccinated. If you experience an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, please report it to the CDC through its V-Safe website, vsafe.cdc.gov.

21. I was recently vaccinated against the flu. Is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be co-administered without regard to timing, this includes simultaneous administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day.

22. What type of adverse reactions can people get after getting the vaccine?

Adverse reactions (which are different from mild to moderate symptoms) to the COVID-19 vaccines are rare. In the event that an adverse reaction occurs, it will usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after being vaccinated. For this reason, you will be asked to stay for a short period of observation after you receive the vaccine. There have been a few cases in which symptoms of a severe adverse reaction were developed up to three weeks after vaccination. Signs of a severe adverse reaction can include swelling of the face, legs, lips or eyes, or sudden and severe shortness of breath, or severe and persistent abdominal pain, leg pain, or headache. Please seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of these symptoms at any time after you’ve been vaccinated. If you experience an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, please report it to the CDC through its V-Safe website, vsafe.cdc.gov.

23. If I have a severe adverse reaction to the vaccine, who will cover my medical care expenses?

Severe adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines are very rare. If you experience a severe adverse reaction to the vaccine, and you are an L.A. Care member, L.A. Care will cover your medical care expenses. For more information on your COVID-19 care coverage, please call the L.A. Care COVID-19 information line at (844) 656-7272 (TTY 711). If you are uninsured, the government will pay for your care. If you don’t have or recently lost health care coverage, you can get covered. Please visit lacare.org or coveredca.com for more information on available health coverage options. If you’ve experienced an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, please report it to the CDC through its V-Safe website, vsafe.cdc.gov.

24. Can someone die from getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Out of hundreds of millions of people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, there have been only a few documented cases of individuals dying because they received the vaccine. There is a much higher risk of severe illness leading to hospitalization or death from being infected with COVID-19 if you are not vaccinated. If an individual contracts the virus before the vaccine reaches maximum effectiveness, the infection may still result in severe illness leading to hospitalization or death. This is why it’s important to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you. Two weeks after the second dose—or single dose, if you get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine—the vaccine reaches maximum effectiveness, meaning your body should be better prepared to fight a COVID-19 infection if you become infected with the virus, and the virus’ symptoms will be milder than if you had not been vaccinated.

25. Why did the CDC and FDA put a temporary hold on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Putting a pause on a new drug or vaccine is very common as new information arises. The CDC and FDA recommended a temporary pause in the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in April, as they reviewed data in the cases of six women who received it, out of more than seven million doses administered. These women, between the ages of 18 and 48, had extremely rare blood clots six to 13 days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The decision by federal health agencies to temporarily pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine shows that health officials are closely monitoring vaccine reactions and maintaining the highest safety standards to ensure that all COVID-19 vaccines are both effective and safe. Since the pause, millions of Americans and others across the world have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine without any major problems.

26. My doctor, pharmacy or a business in the community is trying to charge me for the vaccine.

People should not be charged for the vaccine. If you are asked to pay for the vaccine, contact L.A. Care to report it by calling the L.A. Care COVID-19 information line at (844) 656-7272 (TTY 711).

27. Can my primary care provider give me the vaccine?

At this point, there are only a limited number of primary care providers who have access to the vaccine. Please check lacare.org/vaccine or your local public health department’s website to see if your provider is listed in the appointment scheduler. You may also call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health call center at 833-540-0473, daily between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Individuals are encouraged to use the website whenever possible to avoid long wait times on the phone.

28. Can I use my transportation benefit to go to my vaccine appointment?

L.A. Care’s Medi-Cal and Cal MediConnect members can use their transportation benefit to be driven to and from eligible walk-up COVID-19 vaccination sites, such as at a local pharmacy. To find eligible walk-up COVID-19 vaccination sites, please visit lacare.org/vaccine. You may also call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health call center at 833-540-0473, daily between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., for help scheduling a vaccine appointment. Individuals are encouraged to use the website whenever possible to sign up for an appointment to avoid long wait times on the phone. Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination sites are not eligible. Same-day transportation appointments may be available. Please use the number on the back of your ID card to schedule your transportation after you have scheduled your vaccine appointment.

29. I’m nervous about the vaccine. Should I wait until other people get the vaccine?

L.A. Care recommends that everyone who is eligible get the vaccine. It is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones and for us all to get back to a more normal life. If you are still unsure, please speak with your doctor about your health and other risk factors and follow his/her direction.

30. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for individuals with compromised immune systems?

In general, people with comprised immune system should absolutely get the COVID-19 vaccine. People with weakened immune systems are at significant risk of dying or being hospitalized if they contract COVID-19. If you are still unsure, then you should talk with your personal physicians to understand the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

31. Do I need to get two initial doses of the vaccine?

Yes. If you received a vaccination that requires two doses, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, then it is very important to follow public health guidelines and return for the second dose to complete the series.

32. Do I need to get both initial doses from the same vaccine manufacturer?

Yes. It is currently recommended that both doses come from the same manufacturer.

33. How long does it take for the COVID-19 vaccine to reach maximum effectiveness?

For two-dose vaccines, such as Pfizer or Moderna, it takes two weeks after the second dose to reach maximum effectiveness. For single-dose vaccines like Johnson and Johnson, it takes two to three weeks after the single shot to reach maximum effectiveness. You will still need to continue to follow local public health orders.

34. Can I stop wearing a mask after I get the vaccine?

Two weeks after the second dose—or single dose, if you get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine—the vaccine reaches maximum effectiveness. Once the vaccine reaches maximum effectiveness, you may go unmasked outdoors in most settings. Everyone, including people who are fully vaccinated, is still required to wear a mask when in indoor public spaces or in an area of substantial transmission risk, such as:

  • On public transportation and rideshares
  • In airports and on airplanes
  • Healthcare settings
  • Indoors in K-12 schools
  • Childcare and other youth settings
35. If I have the vaccine, am I protected against the Delta variant?

The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death, including against the Delta variant. But they are not 100% effective, and some fully vaccinated people will become infected (called a breakthrough infection) and experience illness. For such people, the vaccine still provides them strong protection against serious illness and death. The vast majority of infections and hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated.

36. Why do I need to wear a mask if I’m fully vaccinated?

The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death, including against the Delta variant. But they are not 100% effective, and some fully vaccinated people will become infected (called a breakthrough infection) and experience illness. Additionally, infection with the Delta variant results in high viral loads and an increased risk of transmission. This means that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant can still transmit the virus to others. Public health guidelines now require masking for everyone in indoor public spaces or in an area of substantial transmission risk to ensure the vaccinated public will not unknowingly transmit the virus to others, including their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones. If you have a weakened immune system, or if your age or an underlying medical condition puts you or a member of your household in a high risk category, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area.

37. What’s the point of getting the vaccine if I could still get the delta variant?

The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant. Even though some fully vaccinated people can become infected (called a breakthrough infection) and experience illness, the vaccine still provides them strong protection against serious illness and death. The vast majority of infections and hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated.

38. How well does the vaccine work in adolescents?

The vaccine is highly effective in youth ages 12 and up, at least as effective as in adults. As in adults, the vaccines are nearly 100% effective at preventing severe disease requiring hospitalization. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases that are already there, vaccines prevent them.

39. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for my child?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine has been proven safe and effective for all youth ages 12 and up. The science behind the vaccines has been underway for more than 20 years, and COVID-19 vaccine trials were conducted with thousands of youth under 18 before seeking FDA emergency use authorization. About 7 million children ages 12 to 17 have been vaccinated already in the United States, with rare serious adverse events. No vaccine in history has been so closely monitored for safety.

40. Why do children need it since they don’t get that sick if infected?

Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases in children are increasing. Most kids do not get seriously ill from COVID-19, but hundreds of children have died from it, and thousands have been hospitalized. Others experience long-term COVID-19 symptoms that last for months. Children can also transmit to other more vulnerable people in their lives. Vaccination is the most important way to control the pandemic and reduce the effects on people of all ages.

41. Will the vaccine impact my child’s development?

There have been no reported concerns of the COVID-19 vaccine impacting child development. In fact, being vaccinated allows our young people to get back to doing things crucial to their development, such as in-school learning, socializing and sports.

42. Is COVID-19 still a threat?

Yes. Viruses constantly change through mutation resulting in variants. As expected, multiple variants of COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally throughout this pandemic. The COVID-19 vaccine is our best tool in stopping the development of new variants and ending the pandemic.

43. Does the vaccine impact fertility and is it safe for pregnant people?

Yes, the vaccine is safe for pregnant people. No loss of fertility was reported in the clinical trials or in the millions of women who have since received the vaccines. Pregnant people are at higher risk of getting very sick with COVID-19. Pregnant and lactating people may receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines to protect themselves. Vaccination also allows the mom to pass down the immunity to the newborn for a period of time.

44. Will L.A. Care require its members to be vaccinated?

L.A. Care will not require members to be vaccinated. L.A. Care strongly encourages them to be vaccinated as soon as possible so that they are protected against severe COVID-19 illness and hospitalization.