IMPORTANT UPDATE: The County Health System and Stanford Healthcare are now scheduling vaccination appointments for county residents who are 65 and older.
The State of California has authorized all healthcare systems statewide to vaccinate any persons age 65 and older, in addition to continuing vaccinations for healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. However, due to limited vaccine supply, some healthcare systems in our County are offering vaccination only to people age 75 and older at this time. The County does not determine vaccine eligibility. Following the State’s priority phases and tiers, each healthcare system decides what categories of patients they have the capacity to vaccinate at any given time.
Current Vaccination in Santa Clara County:
- Healthcare personnel and Long-Term Care Facility Residents (All Health Systems)
Phase 1B (Tier 1 - partial)
- County residents 75 and older (Kaiser Permanente, and Palo Alto Medical Foundation) - County residents 65 and older (County Health System and Stanford Healthcare)
Vaccine availability and eligibility is changing rapidly, and all vaccinations are by appointment only at this time. The County will update this website regularly as new information becomes available.
Who is Currently Eligible to be Vaccinated?
All healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents in Phase 1A are currently eligible to be vaccinated, as are County residents age 65 and older. The County does not determine vaccine eligibility. Following the State’s priority phases and tiers, each provider decides which categories of patients they have the capacity to vaccinate at any given time. Some local healthcare systems are vaccinating residents 65 and older, while others are vaccinating 75 and older. See below for current details.
Individuals who are eligible to be vaccinated, should contact their healthcare system for more information or to make an appointment. Patients of Kaiser and Palo Alto Medical Foundation should make an appointment through those systems only:
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Who Will be Eligible to Receive the Vaccine Next?
The State of California has established phases and tiers for when different populations are eligible to receive vaccine. Information on who will be eligible next is available on the State of California’s vaccination website. Check this website regularly for updates on the expansion of vaccine eligibility.
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Frequently asked questions
Where will most people get vaccinated when they become eligible?
Like other vaccines, many people will receive COVID-19 vaccination through their primary care provider. All large health systems including Kaiser, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, the County’s hospitals and clinics, Stanford Healthcare, and some smaller community clinics will be allocated vaccine to vaccinate their patients as they become eligible. We also expect that other entities like the large pharmacy chains (Walgreens, CVS, Costco, Walmart, etc.) may eventually offer COVID-19 vaccination to eligible members of the public.
If vaccines are coming, do I still have to wear a mask, keep a distance, and avoid gatherings?
Yes. We all need to do our part to stay safe while we wait for vaccines to be widely available, and for a sufficient portion of the population to be vaccinated. Our county, like everyone else, has received a limited supply to start. More will come over time. It may take many months before everyone in the Bay Area who wants a vaccine has gotten one. This means we all need to work together to keep our risk of COVID-19 low. We can do that by protecting ourselves and others by wearing face masks, keeping our distance, and not gathering in groups.
Who determines how many doses of vaccine are available in Santa Clara County?
The State of California sets the number of doses of vaccine that go to each county. The County Public Health Department is then directed to apportion a subset of these doses to healthcare providers in the County, according to directions from the state and federal government. Some other organizations with facilities in Santa Clara County get additional supplies of vaccine from the state or federal government. These organizations include federal government agencies and large health care systems that operate in more than one county (including Kaiser and Sutter/Palo Alto Medical Foundation). Large retail pharmacies receive additional supplies to vaccinate people who live in certain types of nursing homes, through a program organized by the federal government.
How safe is the vaccine?
The vaccines that have been authorized have been tested in large clinical trials with tens of thousands of volunteers to assess their safety. The FDA, CDC, and ACIP have all evaluated the trial information and determined the vaccines to be safe, effective, and of high quality. These groups are continuing to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines to make sure even very rare side effects are identified and appropriate precautions are taken.
Did developing the vaccines so quickly compromise safety?
No. None of the normal steps in the vaccine vetting process were skipped in order to quickly develop these vaccines. Rapid development was possible because:
- manufacturing started while the clinical trials were still underway (normally manufacturing doesn’t begin until after completion of the trials);
- mRNA vaccines are faster to produce than other kinds of vaccines,
- FDA and CDC was and is prioritizing the review process for COVID-19 vaccines: and d) researchers used existing clinical trial networks to quickly begin conducting the COVID vaccine trials.
How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?
Very effective. Clinical trials involving tens of thousands of individuals have demonstrated that both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Moderna vaccine are highly effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19. After two doses, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine demonstrated 95.0% effectiveness while the Moderna vaccine showed 94.1% effectiveness. The Pfizer clinical trials included more than 43,000 participants and the Moderna trials included 30,000.
Can children be vaccinated?
No. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is only authorized for administration in patients aged 16 years and older. The Moderna vaccine is only authorized in patients aged 18 years and older. Clinical trials are underway for children, but at this point there is no vaccine approved for children.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Serious side effects are very rare. Many vaccine recipients experience mild or moderate side effects. These are normal signs that your body is building protection. Common side effects include mild to moderate pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site and/or mild to moderate flu-like symptoms (e.g., fever, fatigue, headache, chills). All side effects should resolve in a few days.
If I have a medical condition, can I still receive the vaccine? What if I am immunocompromised?
Patients with underlying medical conditions can receive the vaccine. In fact, it is important that this group be vaccinated because they are at increased risk of having severe COVID-19 illness. Immunocompromised individuals (e.g. persons living with HIV, transplant recipients, and those taking immunosuppressive medications) may receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. However, because sufficient data is not yet available to establish vaccine safety and efficacy in this population, immunocompromised individuals should be counseled by their healthcare provider on the risks and benefits of receiving the vaccine and the precautions to take after receiving the vaccine.
If I am pregnant or breastfeeding, can I still receive the vaccine?
Women who are pregnant or breast feeding (and are part of an eligible group) can receive the vaccine. However, since vaccine clinical trials did not include pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers, there is limited direct data on COVID-19 vaccine safety for this population. A discussion with your healthcare provider on the risks and benefits of vaccination is therefore recommended.
Who should NOT receive a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine?
Individuals who have had a severe or immediate allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components should not receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccination at this time, unless they have been evaluated by an allergist-immunologist and it is determined that the person can safely receive the vaccine. Persons with immediate allergic reactions to polysorbate or polyethylene glycol [PEG] should also not receive the vaccine.
Individuals with a history of severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any other vaccine or injectable therapy (e.g., intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous) should consult with a healthcare provider before receiving the vaccine.
In addition, individuals with active COVID-19 disease should not receive the vaccine until completion of their isolation period and resolution of their symptoms.
Note: Individuals with a history of allergic reactions that are not related to vaccines or injectable therapies (e.g., food, pet, venom, environmental, latex allergies, or oral medications) can receive the COVID-19 vaccines.
Can I contract COVID-19 after I’m vaccinated?
Even if you received the vaccine, it is still possible to be infected with COVID-19 since no vaccine is 100% effective. In addition, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it is possible a person could contract COVID-19 shortly after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
Also, while we know the vaccine is effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19, we don’t yet know whether it prevents you from becoming infected but asymptomatic. For all of these reasons, it is critical that everyone (including those who have been vaccinated) continue wearing face coverings and maintain social distance. It will take many months before we reach the level of vaccination needed in the community to provide community protection.
If I’ve had COVID-19 in the past and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had a COVID-19 infection. If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatment you received or if you have more questions about getting a vaccine. Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Note: Some healthcare organizations may prioritize for vaccination those who have not had a previous infection in the prior 90 days.
Can I choose which vaccine I receive?
Supplies do not generally permit a choice of the type of vaccine that individuals receive. Many facilities lack the infrastructure to handle the Pfizer vaccine, for example. Depending on where you receive the vaccine, you may or may not be given a choice of options.
Do I still need to wear a face-covering and maintain social distance if I received the vaccine?
Yes. While clinical trials showed that the vaccine is about 95% effective at preventing symptomatic illness from COVID-19, less is known about the vaccines’ effectiveness at preventing transmission. In other words, getting vaccinated will help protect you from COVID-19, but it may not prevent you from spreading it. This is why it is important to continue wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance, to prevent potential spread to others who have not been vaccinated.
Are veterinarians eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine through County vaccination sites?
Not yet. Per the State’s guidance, the County is currently vaccinating healthcare personnel and individuals 65 years of age and older who are residents of the County. Healthcare personnel includes only people who work in healthcare settings treating human patients. The State briefly posted, then withdrew, a broader definition that would have included veterinarians. The County’s understanding of the State’s current guidance is that veterinarians are not included in the State’s healthcare personnel definition for Phase 1A.
Are funeral home staff eligible for vaccination?
Yes. The California Department of Public Health has notified counties that mortuary or funeral home staff are included within Phase 1A. All individuals in Phase 1A are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
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How are COVID-19 vaccines allocated to providers in Santa Clara County?
This chart shows how vaccines are allocated to local vaccine providers in Santa Clara County.
COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation in Santa Clara County
- Federal government allocates vaccines to:
- State of California
- Private pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens) for long-term care facilities
- Directly to the VA Palo Alto and Indian Health Center
- The State of California then allocates vaccines to:
- Multi-County Entities (like Kaiser and Palo Alto Medical Foundation/Sutter)
- The County Public Health Department
- Multi-County Entities allocate vaccine to their local clinics in Santa Clara County
- The County Public Health Department allocates vaccine to the County Health System and other local health providers, like Stanford
- A box shows all of the local vaccine providers:
- Local PAMF and Kaiser Clinics
- County Health System
- Other providers (e.g. Stanford)
- CVS/Walgreens local delivery for Santa Clara County Skilled Nursing Facilities/Long-Term Care Facilities
- Indian Health Center and VA Palo Alto
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Learn more about the vaccines
Fact Sheets issued by the U.S. federal government are available.
More information about Fact Sheets.
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Recent County of Santa Clara COVID-19 vaccine planning updates
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Partnerships are a key to the effort
The County is working with partners from healthcare and community organizations, as well as public officials and other groups. Planning for vaccine doses and how to provide them to communities will take a united effort . Part of our commitment is to share information with our partners and provide people with the information they need to make decisions about the vaccine.
See COVID-19 vaccine planning for health care providers.
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The County of Santa Clara’s role in COVID-19 vaccination
The County Public Health Department is responsible for logistics, planning, procedures, and allocations so that COVID-19 vaccines can be effectively distributed to healthcare providers, who will in turn vaccinate their patients.
The County is not responsible for developing or testing any of the vaccines. That falls to federal and state authorities. However, once vaccines have been fully evaluated and approved by the federal government, the County will make sure they are distributed according to the guidelines provided.
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County vaccine news archive and past planning updates
See more recent County of Santa Clara COVID-19 vaccine planning updates.
- December 17, 2020 – Press release – Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospitals and Clinics Administer First COVID-19 Vaccines to Frontline Hospital Workers
- December 17, 2020 – Read press release and watch press conference about skilled nursing facility staff being first to receive COVID-19 vaccine.
- December 16, 2020 – Dr. Marty Fenstersheib shares information about the arrival of the first doses of vaccine on Facebook Live.
- December 15, 2020 – Press release – First Doses of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Arrive in Santa Clara County: Healthcare workers and skilled nursing facility residents will be first to receive the vaccine
- December 15, 2020 – Press release – Joint Statement of the Bay Area Health Officers: COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed following federal, state framework
- December 15, 2020 – The County of Santa Clara Health Officer gave an update on vaccine planning to the County Board of Supervisorsand presented a report.
- December 14, 2020 – Press conference – Updates on COVID-19 Vaccine and Quarantine Guidance
- December 9, 2020 – The County of Santa Clara Health Officer gave an update on vaccine planning to the County Board of Supervisors Health and Hospital Committee and presented a report. The County updated its plan for vaccine management and community engagement required by the State of California and presented it to the Committee.
- December 9, 2020 – Press release – County of Santa Clara To Receive 39,300 Doses of Moderna Vaccine in First Allocation
- December 8, 2020 – Update on vaccine planning to the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors
- December 7, 2020 – Press conference – Updates on COVID-19 Vaccine Plan and ICU Capacity
- December 1-2, 2020 – The County of Santa Clara sent a required document to the State of California on plans for vaccine management and community engagement. You can review the County of Santa Clara COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, read the press release, or watch the press conference.
- November 3, 2020 – Update on vaccine planning to the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors
See the County of Santa Clara’s vaccine plan submitted to the State in early December.