Where Can I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in the Bay Area? Your Questions Answered

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A California medical worker loads a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 16, 2021. (APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

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As the coronavirus vaccination rollout continues, much of the Bay Area is wondering: Where and when can you get a COVID-19 vaccine? And how can you register to get one?

The list of vaccination sites and who is eligible is changing frequently. We will update the list as changes occur, but if you spot something you believe needs updating, let us know.

Am I Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine Now?

A man receives the COVID-19 vaccine in the parking lot of The Forum in Inglewood, California. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

When it's your time to get vaccinated, your COVID-19 vaccine will be free. You do not need health insurance to be vaccinated. You also will not be asked for proof of citizenship.

The newest change: All people ages 50 and older are now eligible for vaccination as of April 1, and all individuals 16 and older in California will be eligible starting April 15.

Are you one of those waiting for this universal eligibility to open up on Thursday? Read more information about when you can schedule your appointment, and what to do while you wait for April 15.

Some counties and providers are already forging ahead with 16+ eligibility. Ahead of the state's timeline, Contra Costa County opened up vaccine eligibility early, on March 30, to all people ages 16+ who live or work in the county. The county originally told residents that appointments must be made through the Contra Costa Health services site, not the state's vaccine appointment site My Turn, but My Turn is now confirming eligibility and showing available appointments for Contra Costa residents aged 16+.

Alameda County has also expanded eligibility to people ages 16 and older who live (not work) in one of the following ZIP codes : 94601, 94603, 94605, 94606, 94607, 94621, 94541, 94544, 94545, 94577, 94578, 94580. My Turn is also now showing eligibility for people ages 16 and over who live or work in Alameda County. (Please note that Alameda's vaccine website does not reflect the expanded 16+ eligibility that shows on My Turn yet, but people under 50 living in these eligible ZIP codes can now accordingly use My Turn to make their appointments. )

The City of Berkeley is also partnering with Alameda County and Curative to already offer drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination appointments in Albany to all Alameda residents ages 16 and over, and eligible workers who work in Alameda County. Appointments went fast, but see if any slots have become available for eligible people 16+ for April 14-16, or check if you can make an appointment for eligible people 18+ for April 13. More information about Alameda County eligibility.

San Francisco has opened vaccine eligibility at Southeast Health Center and SF General for everyone ages 16 and older living in ZIP codes 94124, 94134, 94107, 94110, 94112, 94102, 94103 and 94130. This expanded eligibility only applies at these two vaccination locations.

UC Davis Health has also opened up vaccine appointments to "anyone aged 16+", saying that the health center has "enough vaccine supply and appointments to expand eligibility before the state’s expansion on April 15." There is no residency requirement. Make an appointment as a current UC Davis Health patient, or make an appointment as a non-UC Davis Health patient.

The state says even with increased vaccine supply, “vaccination of willing Californians will take several months,” and Bay Area county officials have expressed concern about supply matching demand.

Statewide, current vaccine eligibility is as follows (but check to see where your individual Bay Area county is at right now, as some counties are further along in vaccinating various groups). Just because the state says you're technically eligible for your vaccine doesn't mean your county is actually ready to provide it.

NEW:  As of April 1

  • All people ages 50 and older (was previously 65 and older)

As of March 15

  • People ages 16-64 with certain disabilities or health conditions (scroll down for more information on this)
  • People who reside or work in a high risk congregate residential setting, such as an incarceration/detention facility, homeless shelter or behavioral health facility
  • People experiencing homelessness, who are at risk of transitioning into congregate settings at short notice
  • Public transit workers, including airport and commercial airline workers (but not private airplanes.)

Ongoing: People in California's Phase 1A

  • Health care workers, with priority given to those providing acute care, workers at psychiatric and correctional facility hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and those working in similar settings for older or medically vulnerable individuals
  • Long-term care facility residents

Ongoing: People in California's Phase 1B

  • Agriculture and food workers
  • Education and childcare workers
  • Emergency services workers

NEXT: Starting April 15

  • Everyone ages 16 and older

If you're eagerly anticipating this universal eligibility opening up on Thursday, we have more information about when you can schedule your appointment (basically, it might be sooner than this "opening day") and what to do while you wait for April 15.

The state's guidelines also provide specific clarification on the current eligibility of janitors (all janitors are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of where they work), massage therapists and couriers. They also give more information about what jobs fall under education and child care, and provide some definitions of "informal childcare" — noting that "occasional babysitting should not be included."

If you believe your job makes you eligible for vaccination under these guidelines, you should also talk to your employer to see if they have a plan for vaccinating their workers.

The VA Northern California Health Care System says it's offering COVID-19 vaccines to all enrolled veterans of all ages, and also their registered caregivers. Find out more about getting vaccinated as a veteran through VA.

The quickest way to see if you might currently be eligible for the vaccine and able to make an appointment is to input your details into the state's My Turn site.  That said, the categories on My Turn can be broad, so you might find it helpful to consult the state's Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Guidelines, to see if your job or circumstances are included in those definitions. (And if you're still unclear, you can submit your particular question to KQED, to see if we can find an answer for you.)

I Have a Health Condition or a Disability. Can I Get Vaccinated Now?

A healthcare worker holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images)

As of March 15, the state opened COVID-19 vaccination up to people ages 16-64 who have certain disabilities or health conditions that put them at "the very highest risk" from the coronavirus. See the list of eligible disabilities and conditions.

If you are eligible for vaccination because of your disability or your health condition, the state says that you won't be asked to provide any verification documentation of the diagnosis or type of disability you have, to protect patient confidentiality. Instead, you'll be asked to sign a self-attestation that you meet the criteria laid out by the state.

If you're unsure about whether your health or disabilities would qualify you for vaccination right now, we recommend talking to your regular health care provider to get their advice as soon as possible.

Please also note that certain counties or entities may choose to expand the criteria for eligibility (see below for more information about Kaiser Permanente's expansion.) The City and County of San Francisco has announced it has broadened its definitions of qualifying disabilities and health conditions beyond the state's, to include more conditions and disabilities — for example, expanding on the state's immunocompromised category so that people living with HIV are included. Check your county's public health website, to see if it has its own rules and plans around eligibility.

If you meet San Francisco's expanded health criteria but not the state's criteria, can you get vaccinated in San Francisco if you don't live there? The answer appears to be "yes." San Francisco's COVID Command Center says that because the City’s high-volume vaccination sites are run in partnership with the multi-county entities Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health and UCSF that serve the entire region, people from outside San Francisco can make an appointment at these sites, like the Moscone Center.

"Technically, individuals who meet San Francisco’s eligibility criteria who live outside the City would be able to get vaccinated at these sites," say officials at the SF COVID Command Center. "When signing up with My Turn for an appointment in San Francisco, patients from any neighboring county should answer eligibility questions with SF’s standards."

Kaiser Permanente, which is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to its members, has also expanded upon the state of California's high-risk criteria to include more health conditions and disabilities than are listed by the state — and they're also wider than San Francisco's health criteria. Kaiser Permanente says it'll be reaching out by letter or email to its members who are deemed high-risk according to Kaiser's criteria, "based on their medical history," to invite them to schedule their vaccine appointment. Kaiser's website recommends that if you believe you're eligible under its criteria but this isn't reflected in your medical record,  you should complete an E-visit to let them know.

There may also be specific vaccination opportunities within your community. LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is providing fully accessible weekly pop-up vaccination clinics each Friday from April 2 to May 7, offering the COVID-19 vaccine to all members of the blind, low vision, extended disability community and their caregivers at their San Francisco headquarters. Appointments must be made first by calling 628-652-2700. Read more information about LightHouse's vaccination clinic, and about the inaccessibility of vaccination systems faced by many disabled Californians.

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When Will People Under 50 Be Eligible?

A volunteer checks for COVID-19 test appointments from motorists arriving at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Oct. 8, 2020. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

On March 25, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that people ages 50 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 1, and that all individuals ages 16 and older will be eligible starting April 15. Here's our checklist of what to do while you wait for eligibility on April 15.

The state says even with increased vaccine supply, “vaccination of willing Californians will take several months," and Bay Area county officials have expressed concern about supply matching demand.

If you're waiting for this universal 16+ eligibility to open up and wondering whether you might be able to "pre-schedule" an appointment for after April 15, the California Department of Public Health says that appointments on My Turn will be made available on April 15, "depending on the individual’s eligibility group."

You should note, however, that the state said that people ages 50 and older wouldn't be able to pre-schedule their appointments on My Turn ahead of their eligibility date of April 1 — but then My Turn opened up 50+ eligibility on March 31 anyway. So we recommend stay vigilant, and familiarize yourself with the process before "opening day."

Whether someone can start making appointments through other providers will depend on the provider or the appointment system, say officials. Kaiser Permanente has told its members over email that they are "not able to preschedule appointments in advance of these eligibility dates." Read more about what to do while you wait for April 15.

The backstory: In late January California announced that after vaccinating people in Phase 1A and Phase 1B, the state would shift away from its previous plans in favor of a system that would be primarily age-based.

Those now-obsolete subsequent phases included people ages 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions or disabilities, as well as many essential workers. The decision swiftly led to an outcry from disability advocates – among them writer and activist Alice Wong, who sparked the Twitter hashtag #HighRiskCA and encouraged other disabled people to share their fears about the state's move.

"I don't understand the science and logic behind this decision, and I don't understand why people do not see us and value us," Wong said at the time.

Wong was one of those advocates who eventually pushed the state to reverse its decision, and people ages 16-64 with certain disabilities or health conditions were deemed eligible once more for vaccination as of March 15.

Those scrapped phases also included people aged 50-64. Some counties in California are already choosing to open vaccination to people aged 50 and older, including Contra Costa and Solano in the Bay Area. Check your county eligibility rules.

What Should I Do If I'm Not Eligible Yet?

A text from the California Department of Public Health confirming sign up of someone who isn't currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on My Turn.

Even if you're not eligible to get vaccinated right now — or you're waiting on universal eligibility to open up starting April 15 — you can sign up for the state's My Turn notification tool, which promises to let you know if it's your turn to get vaccinated and schedule vaccination appointments via email or text notifications.

You should also sign up for your county's notification system if they have one. Check your county.

It's also a good idea to make sure you have your health insurance card to hand for making an online appointment (although you don't need insurance to get the vaccine), and familiarize yourself in advance with the various systems of vaccine scheduling out there online. Remember, you'll be one of many people out there trying to find an appointment. Get more tips for being prepared to find an appointment when universal 16+ eligibility opens up on April 15.

Where Can I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Rachel Marrs (R) gives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot to Kassandra Martinez, an EVS attendant and lead, at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. (Ariana Drehsler / AFP via Getty Images)

First off, if you've found yourself confused by the information (or lack of it) out there about how eligible people can get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, you're not imagining it.

The lack of clear instructions around scheduling has caused frustration and concern for many over the last few weeks, and even prompted the creation of a volunteer-powered VaccinateCA dashboard, which shows vaccination locations near you, noting their current availability and how to schedule an appointment. Read more about how VaccinateCA works.

The good news: It looks like the Bay Area's vaccination system is becoming easier to navigate, as more information becomes available and more details about making appointments — and more online sign-up pages — become available. The state's My Turn tool (see below) has also expanded its reach into all California counties, as health insurer Blue Shield takes over the system and My Turn — and not your county — eventually becomes the place to find and schedule everybody's vaccinations.

The less-good news: Vaccine supply across the state remains low, which means that vaccination appointments are still hard to find at many locations. It also means that if you're trying to make an appointment online, you may have to keep visiting the website in question to see if availability has changed. This situation will hopefully improve soon if vaccines supply changes in California. But in the meantime, if you're confused by a lack of available appointments — it's not you.

Don't assume you'll be proactively contacted about getting your COVID-19 vaccine. If you're eligible, do the following — and if you're signing up for email notifications about vaccines through these avenues (which you definitely should) be sure to check your email daily to make sure you don't miss any crucial updates:

1. Talk to Your Health Care Provider, If You Have One

If you're currently eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine and you have health insurance, talk to your provider first about how you should get your shot. If you don't have health insurance but get medical care through a city/county-run provider, you can check with that location.

Remember that your health care provider is doubtless getting a lot of queries from patients like you right now, and it could take a while to get an answer.

As well as trying to talk with your health care provider directly, check the website for your provider, and sign up for their vaccine notifications if they're offering them.

2. Check Your County's Information

If you're eligible but getting the vaccine through your current provider isn't an option — or if you don't have health insurance or a regular health care provider — check with your county to see if they have recommendations on where to obtain your COVID-19 vaccine, or suggest specific locations (find your county in our list.) These vaccination appointments will be based on the doses that the state has supplied your county with.

To make sure your county reaches out to you about how to make an appointment if you're eligible for vaccination, sign up for your county's notifications if they're offering them (find yours in our list.)

3. Use My Turn

My Turn is the state's tool that allows Californians to see instantly if they're currently eligible for the vaccine, sign up for notifications about eligibility and future appointment scheduling, and to schedule vaccination appointments as supplies allow.

My Turn will assess your eligibility based on the county you live in, and which groups that county is vaccinating right now. If you're eligible, the site will show you available appointments within 50 miles of the location you provide.

After you confirm your eligibility, you can also input other locations to see what sites are available further from your home. When you find and schedule appointments for a vaccination site through My Turn, the California Department of Public Health says that you won't necessarily need to be a resident or a worker in that particular county where the vaccination site is based.

My Turn can offer Bay Area applicants appointments at the Moscone Center mass vaccination site and the site run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at Oakland Coliseum, and is now also showing appointments at pharmacies and clinics. If you're trying to find an appointment at a certain location, like Moscone (zip code 94103) or Coliseum (zip code (94621), and can't see it in the search results, try searching on My Turn for that site's exact zip code rather than your own. Remember that if you're not seeing a specific site in the search results, it might just be because of low supply or lack of available appointments.

You may also find that your county requests you sign up for an appointment through My Turn; for example, San Francisco asks that its residents find and make appointments at the Moscone Center site using My Turn.

My Turn is now available in the following languages, which you can select in the first drop-down menu: English, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Korean and Arabic, and as of March 22, Armenian, Japanese, Khmer, Punjabi, and Russian too.

My Turn will ask you to provide a cellphone number and an email address. The state says this is so you can use two-factor authentication to doubly confirm your identity and make your appointment, and to prevent bots automatically scooping up available appointments online.

If you don't have an email address or a cellphone number, or have questions, you can call the California COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-5 p.m PT) and sign up over the phone. Both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking operators are available. Callers needing information in other languages will be connected to translation service that offers 254 other languages.

The California Department of Public Health says that more vaccination appointments will become available near you as more counties sign up to register their vaccination locations and availability with the state, which will have them show up through My Turn. The plan, says the spokesperson, is for the state to eventually administrate a "state-directed allocation system" for vaccines, which will also mean that county lines "shouldn't be as big of a factor" as they currently are for people trying to make an appointment.

If you've been given a special code through a local community organization for scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination, be sure to input it in the "Access Code" (formerly "Accessibility Code") section on My Turn.  Find more important information about vaccine access codes.

Sign up for notifications and check if you're currently able to make an appointment through My Turn.

4. Call Your Local Pharmacy

Call your local pharmacy to see if they're offering the COVID-19 vaccine and to whom. Several pharmacies are also offering online appointments, although please note that low vaccine supply means that available appointments are looking scarce right now.

The volunteer-run site VaccinateCA shows pharmacies near you that are offering vaccinations. You can also see these pharmacies using VaccineFinder, a tool run by Boston Children's Hospital in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Getting Your Vaccine Through a Health System Like Kaiser Permanente

Registered Nurse Emily Enos loads the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe ahead of distribution to seniors above the age of 65 who are experiencing homelessness at the Los Angeles Mission, in the Skid Row area of Downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2021, as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health are administering vaccines in the Bay Area with supplies issued directly from the state rather than the county. You might hear these organizations referred to as multicounty entities (or MCEs), i.e. health systems that serve multiple counties.

Kaiser Permanente says it will administer the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible people "regardless of their health plan membership." To schedule an appointment through Kaiser Permanente as a non-member, you'll need to obtain a medical record number (also referred to as an MRM) first via phone to be able to then go online, use the number and make your appointment.

On its site, Kaiser Permanente has a step-by-step process for non-members wishing to get their COVID-19 vaccine through Kaiser. It says non-members can also call them at 866-454-8855 but notes that "vaccine supply is extremely limited, demand is high, and wait times may be long."

On Twitter, Mission Local writer Joe Eskenazi has also recommended the following contact numbers for Kaiser Permanente — their national call center and the number to make an appointment in Northern California:

Sutter Health says if you're not currently a Sutter patient and wish to become one to make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine once you become eligible, you can visit the Sutter Health sign-up page and enroll.

Do I Have to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine in My County?

Nurse in PPE administers vaccine
Nurse Bethlehem Gurmu (L) receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from public health nurse Kathy Luu as staff members are vaccinated at the Ararat Nursing Facility in the Mission Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles on Jan. 7, 2021. Residents and staff at long term care facilities are on the CDC's highest priority list for vaccinations. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Proving that you live or work in a particular place is most likely to be relevant if you're getting your vaccine through the county system.

Bay Area counties get their vaccine supplies from the state, and a county's public health department will distribute them from there. As a general rule, because of limited vaccine supply, counties are limiting those vaccine appointments to people who either live or work in that county. So if you get your vaccine appointment through the county in which you live or work, be sure to take note of the residency or employment verification required, and bring it to your appointment.

What if you live and work in two different counties? If you're eligible for the vaccine because of the job you do (e.g. working in education and child care), all Bay Area counties are vaccinating people who live or work in that county. This means, for example, you could live in Contra Costa County but commute to that work in Alameda County, and still be vaccinated by Alameda. Check your county's specific rules in our county-by-county list. 

When you find and schedule appointments for a vaccination site through the state's My Turn tool, however, you don't need to be a resident or a worker in that particular county where the vaccination site is based. A California Department of Public Health spokesperson says that as the state moves more towards a "state-directed allocation system" for vaccines, where you live or work eventually "shouldn't be as big of a factor" as it currently is.

(What about the "IMPORTANT NOTE" you'll see on My Turn once you've verified your eligibility, warning you that because some clinics offered to you might be outside your county of residence, you should check that county's "official government website to make sure you are eligible to be vaccinated in that County, otherwise your appointment could be cancelled"? Although it's still a good idea to check a county's rules, the California Department of Public Health spokesperson says this note is more to reflect "the minority of clinics" that restrict vaccination to county residents.)

Health systems like Kaiser Permanente get their vaccine supplies direct from the state, and because they’re not a part of the county system, they can also schedule patients for an appointment in a county even if they don’t live or work in that county.

How Is My County Vaccinating its Residents and Workers?

How is your county vaccinating people right now? (Pictured: Lake Merritt in Oakland, Alameda County) (miteemaus5/iStock)

Alameda County COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Visit Alameda County's vaccination webpage and vaccine sign-up form. (If in Berkeley, see below as well.)
  • Who is currently being vaccinated: My Turn is now showing eligibility for all Alameda County residents and workers ages 16 and over, although this is not yet reflected on Alameda's vaccine website. Alameda County says it's vaccinating people ages 16 and older who live (not work) in one of the following ZIP codes: 94601, 94603, 94605, 94606, 94607, 94621, 94541, 94544, 94545, 94577, 94578, 94580. Alameda says it's also vaccinating people ages 50 and older, health care workers, essential workers in food/agriculture, education/child care, and emergency services, public transportation personnel, including airport and commercial airline workers, and peoples who work, reside or recently resided in a high-risk congregate living facilities, including all persons who are experiencing homelessness (sheltered or unsheltered.) See the next listing for Berkeley residents and workers.
  • Eligible because of your work? Alameda is vaccinating eligible workers who live or work in the county.
  • Alameda is also partnering with Curative and the City of Berkeley to offer drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination appointments in Albany to all Alameda residents ages 16 and over, and eligible workers who work in Alameda County. Make an appointment for eligible people 16+ for April 14-16, or make an appointment for eligible people 18+ for April 13.

City of Berkeley COVID-19 Vaccines

Contra Costa County COVID-19 Vaccines

Marin County COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Visit Marin County's vaccination webpage and vaccination options page (includes links to making appointments) and vaccine interest form.
  • Who is currently being vaccinated: Marin County says it's administering vaccines to health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, people 50 and older, people ages 16-64 with severe, high-risk medical conditions or significant, high-risk disabilities, people working in education and child care, food service and agriculture, emergency services, transportation and logistics, and people in congregate living spaces.
  • Eligible because of your work? Marin is vaccinating eligible workers who live or work in the county.

Napa County COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Visit Napa County's vaccination webpage and vaccine interest sign-up form
  • Who is currently being vaccinated: Napa County is currently vaccinating health care workers, plus people 65 and older (although Napa residents ages 50+ are currently shown as eligible via My Turn,) and workers in education and child care, emergency services and food and agriculture.
  • Eligible because of your work? Napa is vaccinating eligible workers who live or work in the county.

City and County of San Francisco COVID-19 Vaccines

San Mateo County COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Visit San Mateo County's vaccination webpage and vaccine notification sign-up
  • Who is currently being vaccinated: San Mateo says it's vaccinating health care workers, people aged 65+ (although San Mateo residents ages 50+ are currently shown as eligible via My Turn,) workers in education and child care, first responders and food and agricultural workers, and most recently people in congregate living situations and individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • Eligible because of your work? San Mateo is vaccinating eligible workers who live or work in the county.

Santa Clara County COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Visit Santa Clara County's vaccination webpage, which has links to vaccine sign-up pages and phone numbers for various local medical providers
  • Who is currently being vaccinated: Santa Clara says it's vaccinating health care workers, long-term care facility residents and residents ages 50+. The county says it's also vaccinating workers in food and agriculture, education and childcare, and emergency services, plus county residents age 16-64 with a qualifying severe health condition, disability, or illness.
  • Eligible because of your work? Santa Clara is vaccinating eligible workers who live or work in the county.

Solano County COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Visit Solano County's vaccination webpage and vaccine interest form
  • Who is currently being vaccinated: Solano County says it's vaccinating people aged 50+, educators in the Solano School system, child care workers, workers in food and agriculture, people in congregate living situation, people experiencing homelessness and workers in transport and logistics. Solano says it's also vaccinating certain additional essential workers from industries including chemical, communications and IT. See the full list of eligible groups in Solano County.
  • Eligible because of your work? Solano County is vaccinating eligible workers who live or work in the county.

Sonoma County COVID-19 Vaccines

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Which Vaccine Should I Get?

The COVID-19 vaccines being offered at vaccination sites in California at present are made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. Read more about the effectiveness of the vaccines. 

The CDC says that you should "get any COVID-19 vaccine that is available when you are eligible," and that you shouldn't wait for one specific type over another. All currently authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, says the CDC, and they don't recommend one vaccine over another. So basically: Take the shot you're offered at the appointment you're able to get. Even if you try to "pick" one, you'll probably find that difficult to do, given low supply and that appointments often aren't offered by vaccine type.

If you aren't medically able to get a certain brand of COVID-19 vaccine because of specific allergies you have to its ingredients, the CDC recommends that you talk to your doctor about getting a different type of COVID-19 vaccine.

Side effects — like pain or swelling at the injection site, or headaches, fatigue and chills — after getting a COVID-19 vaccination are normal. They're your immune system telling you the vaccine is working, and that your body is creating antibodies. Read more from the CDC about potential side-effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

How Do Second Doses of the Vaccine Work?

If you get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, you'll need a second dose three weeks (21 days) later. If you get the Moderna vaccine, you'll need a second dose one month (28 days) later. You don't need a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

Get your second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines as close to that recommended interval as you can. However, if your second dose is rescheduled or delayed due to supply, don't panic. The CDC says your second dose may be given up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary — but that you shouldn't get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

What about getting your second shot? If you weren't invited to schedule your second shot when you scheduled your first one, make sure you find out at your first appointment how you should schedule that second dose. Some sites will give you the sign-up information on the spot, and others will follow up with you afterward (for example, by email) to arrange your second dose. Try not to leave your first appointment without getting that information. If you're unsure how to schedule your second dose after you leave, contact the site or organization who gave you your first dose.

Remember: You are not immediately protected from the coronavirus after your first vaccination shot. It takes your body time to build up the necessary antibodies that offer protection against getting sick from COVID-19. The CDC says that you'll be considered "fully protected" two weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more about your immunity after getting the vaccine, and find out more about what you can (and can't) do after you're fully vaccinated.

Can I Volunteer to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

farmworker gets vaccine shot
Mauricio Chavez of Hollister gets a COVID-19 vaccine at Monterey Mushrooms in Morgan Hill on Feb. 28, 2021. (Ana Ibarra/CalMatters)

My Turn now has a volunteer sign-up portal called My Turn Volunteer, where you can sign up for medical and non-medical "general support" shifts at California vaccination sites through the state.

The big news: As reported by SFGate, working four hours or more as a volunteer through My Turn Volunteer will make you eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with approval from the clinic administrator, regardless of whether you're in a current priority group (e.g. age 65 or over) according to the state.

Visit the My Turn Volunteer site for more information, and visit our vaccine volunteering guide for more potential voluntary opportunity, both in-person and remote.

How Do Mass Vaccination Sites Work?

San Jose resident Cornelia Arzaga, 76, prepares to receive her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 9, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

If you've been hearing about high-volume vaccination sites planned around the Bay Area, many of them are now open. Right now it's most likely you'll be able to make an appointment — or eventually be invited to do so — for one of these bigger sites by signing up with your county for their notifications or by signing up with the state through My Turn.

The Biden administration has worked with the state to open two new vaccination sites: one at the Oakland Coliseum and the other in Los Angeles. The goal, according to Gov. Newsom, is to administer 6,000 doses per day at both FEMA-run sites.

In San Francisco, the sites listed by the county with online appointments are the Moscone Center in South of Market, a drive-thru location at City College of San Francisco in the city's south side, and San Francisco State University at Lake Merced. The city has also opened a neighborhood vaccine site in the Mission District, responding to high-rates of COVID-19 in the Latino population, and has now also opened another mass vaccination site at the SF Market in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood.

In the East Bay, the city of Berkeley is regularly offering drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination appointments in Albany to eligible Alameda County residents and workers (find eligibility details under "City of Berkeley" or "Alameda" in our county-by-county list.)

In the South Bay, San Mateo County Event Center and the Mountain View Community Center have opened mass vaccination sites, and most recently, Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara County has now opened for vaccinations.

Heard of a big new vaccination site near you? Let us know.

What Are Vaccine Access Codes?

By the end of the day, more people received an injection on Monday than have been vaccinated since the start of the vaccine program on Dec. 18, Judson Howe, president of Adventist Health said. (Elise Amendola/AP)

If you've been given a special code through a local community organization for scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination, be sure to input it in the "Access Code" (formerly "Accessibility Code") section on My Turn. The California Department of Public Health says your code can make "appointments at targeted clinics available."

These access codes are part of the state's drive to make sure underserved groups in California get vaccinated. For example, per a CDPH spokesperson, a particular code "could be used by a community-based organization to make appointments for the 65+ population in impacted communities."

This means the codes are intended to make appointments available only for those people they're designed to reach. There were, however, recent reports of Bay Area codes intended for eligible people in Black and Latino communities being circulated among and misused by people living outside those areas. As a result, the California Department of Public Health has now changed the way these codes work, and now only the individual who was provided with the code will be able to complete the appointment scheduling process online, to prevent misuse.

If you have a code but it wasn't directly provided to you by a community group or a health care provider — or you don't know which groups it's intended to serve — by using it, you are taking appointment availability away from the person it was meant for. (And if that person has already made an appointment using that code, the state now says you won't even be able to schedule an appointment with it anyway.)

Ask Your Question: What Else Do You Want to Know?

A version of this story was originally published on Jan. 15.

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