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. How do I get vaccinated?

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.

4. 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.

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

The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA for children as young as 12 years old. Clinical trials of the Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer vaccines for children as young as 6 months old are now planned or underway. The timing of vaccine availability will depend on the results of the FDA review process and the trials, but based on the current pace of research, it may be possible to have a vaccine 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.

6. Will a booster COVID-19 vaccine be necessary to maintain immunity against COVID-19?

At this time, no booster is recommended for the COVID-19 vaccine. There is on-going research to determine if a booster shot will be necessary. It is common for vaccines to require booster shots to extend immunity. For example, the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine requires a booster shot because protection from the first shot fades over time. The timing of booster shots varies for different vaccines. Some vaccines require a booster shot more frequently than others. Please keep checking lacare.org/vaccine for updates on this topic.

7. Should I continue wearing a mask even if I am fully vaccinated?

As of June 15th, fully vaccinated people are allowed to do many things without wearing a mask, including grocery shopping, going to the gym, eating at a restaurant, seeing a movie or going to a preferred place of worship, among others. However, there’s no harm if you don’t feel ready to take your mask off when you go out. If you prefer to continue wearing a mask, you do not have to take your mask off.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. COVID-19 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.

11. 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.

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

Yes. A small percentage of people who are immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine can be 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.

13. 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.

14. If I am pregnant, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, based upon current data, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant women. Vaccination allows the mom to pass down the immunity to the newborn for a period of time.

15. 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.

16. 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. 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.

17. 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)

18. 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.

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

It is recommended that you wait at least two weeks after getting any other vaccination before getting the vaccine for COVID-19.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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).

25. 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.

26. 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.

27. 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.

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

People with weakened immune systems should talk with their personal physicians to understand the risks and benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19.

29. Do I need to get two 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.

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

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

31. How will I know which vaccine I am receiving?

Before getting the vaccine, you will get a fact sheet about the vaccine. After receiving the vaccine, you will get a vaccination card that identifies the brand of vaccine administered. If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the vaccination card will include the date your second vaccine is due.

32. How long does it take 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.

33. Can I stop wearing a mask after I get the vaccine?
As of June 15, 2021, California lifted masking restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear a mask, except in settings where masks are required for everyone, such as:
  • On public transportation and rideshares
  • In airports and on airplanes
  • Healthcare settings
  • Indoors in K-12 schools
  • Childcare and other youth settings
34. What are some of the things that I can do if I am fully vaccinated?

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 are fully vaccinated. As of June 15, 2021, fully vaccinated people in California are allowed to do many things without wearing a mask, including grocery shopping, going to the gym, eating at a restaurant, seeing a movie or going to a preferred place of worship, among others. However, there’s no harm if you don’t feel ready to take your mask off when you go out. If you prefer to continue wearing a mask, you do not have to take your mask off.

Masking will continue to be required for everyone in the following settings:

  • On public transportation and rideshares
  • In airports and on airplanes
  • Healthcare settings
  • Indoors in K-12 schools
  • Childcare and other youth settings

Some public health measures will remain for mega events, which include 5,000+ people indoors or 10,000+ outdoors, such as concerts, sporting events, festivals, and conventions. Mega events are high risk for spreading covid-19 because they attract people from around the world, and people gather in crowds. Indoor mega event attendees will be required to confirm proof of vaccination or negative covid-19 status to attend. Outdoor mega event attendees will be strongly encouraged to do so.