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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LOOKING FOR SOMETHING? SKIP STRAIGHT TO:

Where can you get a COVID-19 vaccine now that everyone in California age 16 and older is eligible? Which county are you allowed to make an appointment in? Who's eligible for a third dose?

Keep reading for everything you need to know about finding a COVID-19 vaccine near you in the Bay Area. Spotted something you believe needs updating? Let us know.

The most recent update: eligible people can now get a booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. See our separate guide to who can get a Pfizer booster and how to find a booster near you, or keep reading for how to get your first shots of a COVID vaccine.

Immunocompromised people who already got two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can now get a third shot to boost their protection from COVID-19. Right now, only a very small group of people with compromised immune systems qualifies for the third dose, and people with other conditions like diabetes or heart disease are not currently included. Read the CDC's list clarifying exactly who is eligible and get information about how immunocompromised people can make an appointment.

Remember, in April U.S. health officials lifted an 11-day pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations following a recommendation by an expert panel. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the benefits of the single-dose COVID-19 shot outweigh a rare risk of blood clots. This means use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is allowed again. Read more about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause in context, find more FAQs on the CDC and FDA's original decision, and read more below about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the Bay Area.

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)

Everyone in California ages 16 and older is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, no matter where they live or work.

Immunocompromised people with certain conditions who already got two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can now also get a third shot to boost their protection from COVID-19. Read more about getting a third dose if you qualify. 

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 or about your immigration status.

Remember that if you're making an appointment for someone who's under 18, make sure the vaccine offered is the Pfizer vaccine. This vaccine was previously available for young people ages 16+, and has now been expanded to ages 12-15, who will be able to get their shot in California starting May 13. Read more about making a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine appointment for those aged 12-15, and get more information about which vaccines are being offered right now.

Additionally, when using My Turn to find a vaccine appointment, people 12 to 17 will need a parent or legal guardian to make the booking, since My Turn asks you to "certify that I am at least 18 years of age, or the parent or legal guardian of the minor patient."

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I'm Immunocompromised. How Can I Get My Third Dose?

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)

Immunocompromised people who already got two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can now get a third shot to boost their protection from COVID-19. Right now, only a very small group of people with compromised immune systems qualify for the third dose, and people with other conditions like diabetes or heart disease are not currently included. Read the CDC's list clarifying exactly who is eligible.

If this is you, where can you get your extra shot? You can now make an appointment for a third shot through the state's My Turn site, by hitting the "additional appointments" button.

CVS and Walgreens have begun offering a third dose to eligible immunocompromised people. Make an appointment through CVS, or make an appointment through Walgreens.

Bay Area counties are rolling  out these third shots for those who qualify. Check your county's vaccine webpage.

Please note: Currently only the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are authorized for an additional dose. This means that if you originally got the J&J shot, you still aren't eligible even if you qualify as immunocompromised.

As NPR has reported, the FDA says that there wasn't enough data available to extend the authorization for an additional dose for the J&J shots.  The FDA and the CDC said that they are "actively engaged" to determine the best course of action for recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and expect to know more "very shortly."

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)

Don't assume you'll be proactively contacted about getting your COVID-19 vaccine. Now that everyone is eligible for a vaccine, you should do the following.

(Immunocompromised people who qualify for a third dose may not be able to use all of the avenues below yet to schedule that extra dose. Read more about specifically getting a third dose if you qualify.)

1. Find a COVID-19 Vaccine Through My Turn

My Turn is the state's tool that allows Californians to schedule vaccination appointments, as supplies allow.

My Turn will ask you for your information, and then for a ZIP code or location you'd like to search for vaccine appointments around. You can give your home location, or you can also input other locations to see what sites are available farther 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. So don't worry if My Turn is suggesting appointments a different county other than the one you live or work in.

Please note that many of the mass vaccination sites you may have been familiar with offering vaccines earlier in the year — like San Francisco's Moscone Center and the Oakland Coliseum — are now closed.

If you're trying to find an appointment at a certain location 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'll also be shown a lot of pharmacy results: Keep scrolling through them to make sure you're not missing clinic results hidden among them.

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

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 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.

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 called an "Accessibility Code") section on My Turn. Find more information about vaccine access codes.

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

2. Find a COVID-19 Vaccine Through Your County

Visit your county's public health website to learn how your county is vaccinating its residents. It's also likely that you can get vaccinated by the county you work in, if it's different to your county of residence. The availability of 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 appointment availability, sign up for your their notifications if they're offering them. Find your Bay Area county in our list.

3. Find a COVID-19 Vaccine Through Your Health Care Provider

If you have health insurance, check with your provider to see if they can offer you your COVID-19 vaccine. If you don't have health insurance but get medical care through a city/county-run provider, you can check with that location.

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

4. Find a COVID-19 Vaccine Through a Local Pharmacy

Several pharmacy chains are offering online appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine, and some also offer walk-in vaccines with no appointment:

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 CDC.

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.

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What Do I Need to Know About the Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Pause?

Home base primary care Pharmacist Erin Emonds filling syringes with the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine
The CDC and the FDA say the pause will allow them to investigate these reactions more. They also say it will help health care providers be ready to spot this rare blood clotting event and treat it appropriately. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

On April 23, U.S. health officials lifted an 11-day pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations following a recommendation by an expert panel. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the benefits of the single-dose COVID-19 shot outweigh a rare risk of blood clots. This means use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is allowed again in the Bay Area.

Out of an “abundance of caution” the Food and Drug Administration originally recommended a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine in the U.S. on April 13 after a very rare type of blood clot showed up in six women within about two weeks of receiving the vaccination. This news came just as California was about to open up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all people ages 16 and older.  If you have questions, here's what you need to know about exactly why this happened:

Q: How Small Are the Risks With the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine?

A: More than 6.8 million people in the U.S. have received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, so these are very, very small risks statistically. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that all six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination. Among the six women, one case was fatal and one patient is in critical condition.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not “recalled,” "banned" or “canceled.”

"The relative risk is really, really low for these severe blood clots," said Dr. Catherine Blish, infectious disease specialist at Stanford Medicine. "So we've had the six cases out of almost seven million vaccines delivered, which is about one in a million. And while this has been hugely controversial, the birth control pills are associated with about one in 1,000 to [one in 100] rate of blood clots."

Q: If the Johnson & Johnson Risks Are So Small, Why Did the CDC and FDA Recommend the Pause?

A: The CDC and the FDA said the pause would allow them to investigate these reactions more. They also said it would help health care providers be ready to spot this rare blood clotting event and treat it appropriately.

To repeat: More than 6.8 million people in the U.S. have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The blood clots that prompted the pause showed up in six women. But because of the rare nature of these types of clots, health officials emphasize that they should not be treated the way other clots often are.

Most importantly, Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, said doctors should avoid using heparin, a standard blood-thinning treatment, because in these clots it "can cause tremendous harm, or the outcome can be fatal."

The need for specialized treatment is one reason the CDC and the FDA saw an urgent need to get the word out about this rare combination of side effects.

Medical experts say this kind of pause happens a lot and is "totally normal" and reasonable in order to investigate these extremely rare cases. Regulators don't know whether the six cases are related to the vaccine, and they need to do a deep dive into the individual patients to determine what's going on.

Q: I Got the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine. Do I Need to Look Out for Problems?

A: If you got your Johnson & Johnson vaccine shot less than three weeks ago, you should look out for severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek treatment with your health provider, an urgent care clinic or a hospital emergency room.

Remember, the number of people affected is very, very small.

If you got your shot more than three weeks ago, and you have experienced none of these symptoms, you likely do not need to worry about your J&J vaccine.

Q: How Does the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Affect the Bay Area?

A: A joint statement by the Bay Area's county health officers on April 24 recommends that the region's health providers should resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine "to prevent community spread and severe illness and death from COVID-19." This means you'll see the J&J vaccine being offered at appointments around the Bay Area once more.

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 MRN) 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.

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.

I Have a Health Condition or a Disability. What About My COVID-19 Vaccine?

A health care worker holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the coronavirus. (Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images)

In March, the state opened COVID-19 vaccinations up to people ages 16 to 64 who have certain disabilities or health conditions that put them at "the very highest risk" from the coronavirus, ahead of the general population.

Now that everyone ages 16 and over is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in California, this eligibility is no longer a factor — but there may still be specific vaccination opportunities within your community that focus on accessibility for disabled Californians seeking the vaccine.

Immunocompromised people who already got two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can now get a third shot to boost their protection from COVID-19. Right now, only a very small group of people with compromised immune systems qualifies for the third dose, and people with other conditions like diabetes or heart disease are not currently included. Read the CDC's list clarifying exactly who is eligible and get information about how immunocompromised people can make an appointment.

Read more information about the vaccination clinic previously run by LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and about the inaccessibility of vaccination systems faced by many disabled Californians.

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 whether there's residency or employment verification required, and bring it to your appointment if so.

What if you live and work in two different counties? Bay Area counties are vaccinating people who live or work in that county, which means you could live in, say, Contra Costa County but commute to work in Alameda County, and still get vaccinated by Alameda County.

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.

You'll see an "IMPORTANT NOTE" on My Turn once you get to the appointment scheduling stage, which warns 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, a California Department of Public Health spokesperson says this note is more to reflect "the minority of clinics" that restrict vaccination to county residents. So you shouldn't worry too much about it.

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) (miteemaus5/iStock)

Remember, all California counties are now vaccinating all residents and workers ages 16 and older. Not all counties may be offering third doses to eligible immunocompromised people yet through county sites.

Alameda County COVID-19 Vaccines

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.
  • Marin residents without internet access can call 833-641-1988 (Marin says that people eligible to get help from this call center are ages 65 or older, living with disabilities and ages 18 or older, in need of home care or personal assistance, need language interpretation (including ASL), have limited or no internet access or need help arranging transportation.

Napa County COVID-19 Vaccines

City and County of San Francisco COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Visit San Francisco's vaccination webpage
  • Call the San Francisco call center designed to help people who are 65 and older and those with disabilities who are unable to easily access the internet or schedule an appointment through their provider: 628-652-2700.

San Mateo County COVID-19 Vaccines

Santa Clara County COVID-19 Vaccines

Solano County COVID-19 Vaccines

Sonoma County COVID-19 Vaccines

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Which Vaccine Should I Get?

A dose of the new one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination event March 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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

On April 23, U.S. health officials lifted an 11-day pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations following a recommendation by an expert panel. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the benefits of the single-dose COVID-19 shot outweigh a rare risk of blood clots. This means use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is allowed again in the Bay Area.

No similar issues have been reported for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. A similar issue has occurred in Europe with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not authorized in the U.S. Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca use a different type of vaccine system than Pfizer and Moderna. Read more about the effectiveness of the vaccines. 

Remember that if you're making an appointment for someone who's under 18, make sure the vaccine offered is the Pfizer vaccine. This vaccine was previously available for young people ages 16+, and has now been expanded to ages 12-15, who will be able to get their shot in California starting May 13. Read more about making a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine appointment for those aged 12-15,

As eligibility expands, more and more appointments will hopefully be clearly labeled at the booking stage with their vaccine type so that you can be sure.

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?

woman getting COVID vaccine dose shot in the arm
A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccination. LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is now providing weekly pop-up vaccination clinics at their San Francisco headquarters. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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 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 throughout the state.

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

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)

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, 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.)

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