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Your COVID-19 vaccine questions — answered

A guide to eligibility and where people can get shots

Nurse Laura Zimmerman receives her first injection of the newly developed coronavirus vaccine at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System on Dec. 16, 2020. Photo by Federica Armstrong.

The news of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout late last year was a welcome sign for many that the pandemic’s end could be in sight. But the process has gone slower than hoped for initially, and confusion abounds as state and local leaders expand eligibility. Below is a list of who can currently get vaccinated in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, plus answers to common questions and links to resources. We will update and add to this page as more information becomes available.

San Mateo County

On Thursday, Feb. 11, San Mateo County announced vaccination eligibility would expand beginning Feb. 22 to include teachers and child care providers, first responders, and food and agricultural workers who are eligible under the state's Phase 1B, as supply allows. Currently, the county is vaccinating all eligible Phase 1A health care workers and long-term care residents as well as residents 65 and older. The county is prioritizing reaching as many members of Phase 1A as possible as it awaits the arrival of additional vaccine doses and following state guidance about the prioritization of groups in Phase 1B, as the supply of vaccine continues to be very limited. For more information, visit the county's vaccination webpage.

Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County is vaccinating residents who fall under Phase 1A, which encompasses health care workers and long-term care facility residents. On Jan. 26, it expanded vaccines to residents 65 and older, and many health care providers in the county doing likewise.

Vaccine information from health care providers

Kaiser Permanente

Visit Kaiser Permanente’s website for the latest information on vaccine priorities and how to get a vaccine when you meet the criteria, or call their 24/7 recorded message hotline at 855‑550‑0951 (available in English and Spanish) for regular updates. Members will receive email updates on the vaccines by registering at kp.org. For more information, visit kp.org/coronavirus.

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Stanford Health Care

Vaccine eligibility depends on your county of residence, age and in some cases your occupation. At this time, established primary care patients with Stanford Health Care who meet the following criteria may schedule a vaccination via MyHealth or by calling 650-498-9000.

Residents of Santa Clara County and San Mateo County over the age of 75 can be vaccinated at Stanford Health Care’s location at 2585 Samaritan Drive, San Jose. Stanford may announce additional locations for patients who reside in these counties.

Health care workers who are patients of Stanford Health Care and/or work in Santa Clara County: If you are a health care worker not necessarily employed or contracted by Stanford Health Care, you are eligible for vaccination at this time.

Due to frequent updates and expanding eligible populations, Stanford encourages patients to visit its website for the most up-to-date information.

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Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation

If Sutter Health (which includes Palo Alto Medical Foundation) is your health care provider, you can contact the Sutter vaccine appointment system online at sutterhealth.org/covid-vaccine and by phone at 844-987-6115. They are currently taking appointments for health care workers and patients over the age of 75.

Commonly asked questions

El Camion Health doctor Daniel Shin receives his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at El Camino Health in Mountain View on Dec. 19, 2020. Photo by Federica Armstrong.

When can I get the vaccine?

The state has a vaccination plan which outlines guidance for counties on who should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations broken down into phases and tiers. Most Californians will be vaccinated at community vaccination sites, doctor's offices, clinics or pharmacies.

Counties may also be at different stages of the vaccination plan. For more information, view the San Mateo and Santa Clara county-specific sections above.

What vaccines are currently being distributed?

Doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines are currently being issued across the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine on Dec. 11 and Moderna's vaccine on Dec. 18. Both vaccines are administered through two doses. Pfizer-BioNTech's doses are given 21 days apart and Moderna's doses are provided 28 days apart.

Does the vaccine have any reported side effects?

People may experience pain or swelling in the area where they received the shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They may also come down with a fever, chills, headache and fatigue. The side effects could be similar to the flu, but should dissipate days after receiving the shot.

If you notice redness or tenderness grows in the spot where the shot was administered after 24 hours or the side effects persist after a few days, the CDC recommends contacting your doctor or health care provider.

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine contains a small piece of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus' messenger RNA (mRNA), which is a piece of genetic material that instructs cells in the body to make the virus' distinctive "spike" protein. The body of a person who receives the vaccine produces copies of the spike protein, which triggers the immune system to react defensively and produce an immune response against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

The FDA noted there isn't data to determine how long the vaccine will provide protection, nor is there evidence that the vaccine prevents transmission of the virus from person to person.

How much will the vaccine cost?

COVID-19 vaccines, including their administration, are free, according to the state.

Once I'm vaccinated, am I fully protected from COVID-19?

Currently, researchers are still investigating how long a vaccinated individual will be immune from the disease, according to the CDC. There is a risk of contracting the virus shortly after receiving the vaccine because it can take a few weeks to build up a sufficient amount of the lymphocytes that help fight COVID-19. Health leaders say until the data says otherwise, vaccinated people still need to take safety precautions against COVID-19, including wearing face coverings, washing their hands and practicing social distancing.

Can I sign up somewhere to be notified when I am eligible for the vaccine?

The state recently announced that it will soon launch a new system to let people know if they are eligible to receive a vaccine, and if not yet eligible, to register for a notification via email or text when they are eligible. That system is expected to launch this week.

Have more questions on the COVID-19 vaccines and latest rollout plans? Send them by email to [email protected] and we'll do our best to get them answered.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Your COVID-19 vaccine questions — answered

A guide to eligibility and where people can get shots

by /

Uploaded: Thu, Jan 21, 2021, 11:15 am
Updated: Wed, Jan 27, 2021, 1:08 pm

The news of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout late last year was a welcome sign for many that the pandemic’s end could be in sight. But the process has gone slower than hoped for initially, and confusion abounds as state and local leaders expand eligibility. Below is a list of who can currently get vaccinated in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, plus answers to common questions and links to resources. We will update and add to this page as more information becomes available.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, San Mateo County announced vaccination eligibility would expand beginning Feb. 22 to include teachers and child care providers, first responders, and food and agricultural workers who are eligible under the state's Phase 1B, as supply allows. Currently, the county is vaccinating all eligible Phase 1A health care workers and long-term care residents as well as residents 65 and older. The county is prioritizing reaching as many members of Phase 1A as possible as it awaits the arrival of additional vaccine doses and following state guidance about the prioritization of groups in Phase 1B, as the supply of vaccine continues to be very limited. For more information, visit the county's vaccination webpage.

Santa Clara County is vaccinating residents who fall under Phase 1A, which encompasses health care workers and long-term care facility residents. On Jan. 26, it expanded vaccines to residents 65 and older, and many health care providers in the county doing likewise.

Kaiser Permanente

Visit Kaiser Permanente’s website for the latest information on vaccine priorities and how to get a vaccine when you meet the criteria, or call their 24/7 recorded message hotline at 855‑550‑0951 (available in English and Spanish) for regular updates. Members will receive email updates on the vaccines by registering at kp.org. For more information, visit kp.org/coronavirus.

Stanford Health Care

Vaccine eligibility depends on your county of residence, age and in some cases your occupation. At this time, established primary care patients with Stanford Health Care who meet the following criteria may schedule a vaccination via MyHealth or by calling 650-498-9000.

Residents of Santa Clara County and San Mateo County over the age of 75 can be vaccinated at Stanford Health Care’s location at 2585 Samaritan Drive, San Jose. Stanford may announce additional locations for patients who reside in these counties.

Health care workers who are patients of Stanford Health Care and/or work in Santa Clara County: If you are a health care worker not necessarily employed or contracted by Stanford Health Care, you are eligible for vaccination at this time.

Due to frequent updates and expanding eligible populations, Stanford encourages patients to visit its website for the most up-to-date information.

Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation

If Sutter Health (which includes Palo Alto Medical Foundation) is your health care provider, you can contact the Sutter vaccine appointment system online at sutterhealth.org/covid-vaccine and by phone at 844-987-6115. They are currently taking appointments for health care workers and patients over the age of 75.

When can I get the vaccine?

The state has a vaccination plan which outlines guidance for counties on who should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations broken down into phases and tiers. Most Californians will be vaccinated at community vaccination sites, doctor's offices, clinics or pharmacies.

Counties may also be at different stages of the vaccination plan. For more information, view the San Mateo and Santa Clara county-specific sections above.

What vaccines are currently being distributed?

Doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines are currently being issued across the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine on Dec. 11 and Moderna's vaccine on Dec. 18. Both vaccines are administered through two doses. Pfizer-BioNTech's doses are given 21 days apart and Moderna's doses are provided 28 days apart.

Does the vaccine have any reported side effects?

People may experience pain or swelling in the area where they received the shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They may also come down with a fever, chills, headache and fatigue. The side effects could be similar to the flu, but should dissipate days after receiving the shot.

If you notice redness or tenderness grows in the spot where the shot was administered after 24 hours or the side effects persist after a few days, the CDC recommends contacting your doctor or health care provider.

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine contains a small piece of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus' messenger RNA (mRNA), which is a piece of genetic material that instructs cells in the body to make the virus' distinctive "spike" protein. The body of a person who receives the vaccine produces copies of the spike protein, which triggers the immune system to react defensively and produce an immune response against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

The FDA noted there isn't data to determine how long the vaccine will provide protection, nor is there evidence that the vaccine prevents transmission of the virus from person to person.

How much will the vaccine cost?

COVID-19 vaccines, including their administration, are free, according to the state.

Once I'm vaccinated, am I fully protected from COVID-19?

Currently, researchers are still investigating how long a vaccinated individual will be immune from the disease, according to the CDC. There is a risk of contracting the virus shortly after receiving the vaccine because it can take a few weeks to build up a sufficient amount of the lymphocytes that help fight COVID-19. Health leaders say until the data says otherwise, vaccinated people still need to take safety precautions against COVID-19, including wearing face coverings, washing their hands and practicing social distancing.

Can I sign up somewhere to be notified when I am eligible for the vaccine?

The state recently announced that it will soon launch a new system to let people know if they are eligible to receive a vaccine, and if not yet eligible, to register for a notification via email or text when they are eligible. That system is expected to launch this week.

Have more questions on the COVID-19 vaccines and latest rollout plans? Send them by email to [email protected] and we'll do our best to get them answered.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

awatkins
Registered user
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 21, 2021 at 12:53 pm
awatkins, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
Registered user
on Jan 21, 2021 at 12:53 pm

“ Once I'm vaccinated, am I fully protected from COVID-19?

No. Health leaders say people still need to continue taking safety precautions against COVID-19, including wearing face coverings, washing their hands and practicing social distancing”

This deserves an explanation, or at least a reference to the source of this statement.


Andrea Gemmet
Registered user
editor of The Almanac
on Jan 21, 2021 at 5:41 pm
Andrea Gemmet, editor of The Almanac
Registered user
on Jan 21, 2021 at 5:41 pm

@awatkins Thanks for your excellent suggestion. We've expanded the answer to that question and included links.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 21, 2021 at 6:50 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Jan 21, 2021 at 6:50 pm

At the risk of having my comment deleted because it it too long here is the answer to your question:

5 Reasons to Wear a Mask Even After You're Vaccinated
Liz Szabo
January 15, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.
As an emergency physician, Dr. Eugenia South was in the first group of people to receive a covid vaccine. She received her second dose last week — even before President-elect Joe Biden.
Yet South said she's in no rush to throw away her face mask.
"I honestly don't think I'll ever go without a mask at work again," said South, faculty director of the Urban Health Lab at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "I don't think I'll ever feel safe doing that."
And although covid vaccines are highly effective, South plans to continue wearing her mask outside the hospital as well.
Health experts say there are good reasons to follow her example.
"Masks and social distancing will need to continue into the foreseeable future — until we have some level of herd immunity," said Dr. Preeti Malani, chief health officer at the University of Michigan. "Masks and distancing are here to stay."
Malani and other health experts explained five reasons Americans should hold on to their masks:
1. No vaccine is 100% effective.

Large clinical trials found that two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines prevented 95% of illnesses caused by the coronavirus. While those results are impressive, 1 in 20 people are left unprotected, said Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Malani notes that vaccines were tested in controlled clinical trials at top medical centers, under optimal conditions.
In the real world, vaccines are usually slightly less effective. Scientists use specific terms to describe the phenomenon. They refer to the protection offered by vaccines in clinical trials as "efficacy," while the actual immunity seen in a vaccinated population is "effectiveness."
The effectiveness of covid vaccines could be affected by the way they're handled, Malani said. The genetic material used in mRNA vaccines — made with messenger RNA from the coronavirus — is so fragile that it has to be carefully stored and transported.
Any variation from the CDC's strict guidance could influence how well vaccines work, Malani said.
2. Vaccines don't provide immediate protection.

No vaccine is effective right away, Malani said. It takes about two weeks for the immune system to make the antibodies that block viral infections.
Covid vaccines will take a little longer than other inoculations, such as the flu shot, because both the Moderna and Pfizer products require two doses. The Pfizer shots are given three weeks apart; the Moderna shots, four weeks apart.


In other words, full protection won't arrive until five or six weeks after the first shot. So, a person vaccinated on New Year's Day won't be fully protected until Valentine's Day.
3. COVID vaccines may not prevent you from spreading the virus.

Vaccines can provide two levels of protection. The measles vaccine prevents viruses from causing infection, so vaccinated people don't spread the infection or develop symptoms.
Most other vaccines — including flu shots — prevent people from becoming sick but not from becoming infected or passing the virus to others, said Dr. Paul Offit, who advises the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration on covid vaccines.
While covid vaccines clearly prevent illness, researchers need more time to figure out whether they prevent transmission, too, said Phoenix-based epidemiologist Saskia Popescu, an assistant professor in the biodefense program at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government.
"We don't yet know if the vaccine protects against infection, or only against illness," said Frieden, now CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a global public health initiative. "In other words, a vaccinated person might still be able to spread the virus, even if they don't feel sick."
Until researchers can answer that question, Frieden said, wearing masks is the safest way for vaccinated people to protect those around them.
4. Masks protect people with compromised immune systems.

People with cancer are at particular risk from covid. Studies show they're more likely than others to become infected and die from the virus, but may not be protected by vaccines, said Dr. Gary Lyman, a professor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Cancer patients are vulnerable in multiple ways. People with lung cancer are less able to fight off pneumonia, while those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment have weakened immune systems. Leukemia and lymphoma attack immune cells directly, which makes it harder for patients to fight off the virus.
Doctors don't know much about how people with cancer will respond to vaccines, because they were excluded from randomized trials, Lyman said. Only a handful of study participants were diagnosed with cancer after enrolling. Among those people, covid vaccines protected only 76%.
Although the vaccines appear safe, "prior studies with other vaccines raise concerns that immunosuppressed patients, including cancer patients, may not mount as great an immune response as healthy patients," Lyman said. "For now, we should assume that patients with cancer may not experience the 95% efficacy."
Some people aren't able to be vaccinated.
While most people with allergies can receive covid vaccines safely, the CDC advises those who have had severe allergic reactions to vaccine ingredients, including polyethylene glycol, to avoid vaccination. The agency also warns people who have had dangerous allergic reactions to a first vaccine dose to skip the second.
Lyman encourages people to continue wearing masks to protect those with cancer and others who won't be fully protected.
5. Masks protect against any strain of the coronavirus, in spite of genetic mutations.

Global health leaders are extremely concerned about new genetic variants of the coronavirus, which appear to be at least 50% more contagious than the original.
So far, studies suggest vaccines will still work against these new strains.
One thing is clear: Public health measures — such as avoiding crowds, physical distancing and masks — reduce the risk of contracting all strains of the coronavirus, as well as other respiratory diseases, Frieden said. For example, the number of flu cases worldwide has been dramatically lower since countries began asking citizens to stay home and wear masks.
"Masks will remain effective," Malani said. "But careful and consistent use will be essential."
The best hope for ending the pandemic isn't to choose between masks, physical distancing and vaccines, Offit said, but to combine them. "The three approaches work best as a team," he said.


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