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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The first COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in the United States. These vaccines were tested among tens of thousands of volunteers to ensure that they are safe and effective. When you are eligible to get a dose of vaccine, the Public Health Department strongly recommends that you get one.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of April 1, 2021, individuals age 50-64 are eligible to be vaccinated, though vaccine supply remains limited.

 

See If It's My Turn

The County does not determine vaccine eligibility. Healthcare providers must follow the State’s prioritization plan and determine which prioritized populations they have the supply to vaccinate. See below for the current phase of vaccine distribution for Santa Clara County residents.

Current Vaccination Phase in Santa Clara County:
Phase 1A
Healthcare personnel and Long-Term Care Facility residents
Phase 1B
County residents 65 and older and Workers in the following sectors:
food and agriculture, education and childcare, and emergency services

People​ with High Risk Conditions
County residents age 16 and older with a qualifying severe health condition, disability, or illness
County Residents Age 50 and Older


Vaccine availability and eligibility is changing rapidly. The County will update this website regularly as new information becomes available.


Information on who will be eligible next  available on the State of California’s vaccination website. Check this website regularly for updates on the expansion of vaccine eligibility.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has convened a Drafting Guidelines Workgroup which is leveraging national prioritization frameworks and reviewing data regarding occupational exposure and COVID risk to prioritize sectors across phases and tiered population groups. Counties will follow these guidelines in administering vaccine.

However, given the number of people falling into the various tiers in a specific county, the uptake of those in the priority group getting vaccinated, and the logistics and timeline for use of the vaccine so that no doses go to waste, counties may be in different tiers in administering vaccine to their population.

 

Book an Appointment

Individuals who are eligible to be vaccinated are encouraged, but not required, to contact their healthcare system to make an appointment. Under the County’s “no wrong door” policy, all providers below (with the exception of the VA) are able to vaccinate eligible patients regardless of your healthcare provider or insurance. See below for scheduling options by provider. Check back regularly, new appointments are being added daily.

1 Sites available in San Jose, Gilroy, Santa Clara, and Mountain View.
2 Currently vaccinating all enrolled Veterans who wish to receive the vaccine. ​
Clinic is for 16 and 17 year olds who meet eligibility criteria

 

Learn More About the Vaccines

Fact Sheets issued by the U.S. federal government are available.

More information about Fact Sheets.

 

Free Transportation to Vaccination Locations

Santa Clara County, VTA has created an interactive map for the public to find a list of the current vaccination locations, along with the bus or light rail routes to take to each site. Transit trips are free as VTA is currently not collecting fares. When viewers click on any vaccination location on the map, they will be taken to the Google Maps transit option to find the most efficient transit route to get to the destination.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

faqGroupLookupString: 1. Vaccine Safety
1. Vaccine Safety
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How was it determined that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe?
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All authorized COVID-19 vaccines were tested in large clinical trials with tens of thousands of volunteers of different ages, races, and ethnicities to ensure their safety and effectiveness. 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?
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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:

  1. manufacturing started while the clinical trials were still underway (normally manufacturing doesn’t begin until after completion of the trials);
  2. mRNA vaccines are faster to produce than other kinds of vaccines,
  3. FDA and CDC was and is prioritizing the review process for COVID-19 vaccines; and
  4. researchers used existing clinical trial networks to quickly begin conducting the COVID vaccine trials.
​​​​​
If I have a medical condition, can I still receive the vaccine? What if I am immunocompromised?
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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 the 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?
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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?
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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. ​​​

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2. Vaccine Science
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How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?
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Very effective. Clinical trials involving tens of thousands of individuals have demonstrated that the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen (also known as Johnson & Johnson) vaccines 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 Janssen/J&J vaccine, which only requires one dose, demonstrated 74.4% effectiveness against moderate and severe cases of COVID-19, with levels rising to 85.9% effectiveness in preventing severe cases after 4 weeks.​

When do the vaccines take full effect?
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​Starting from two weeks after receiving the second dose for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna or the single dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson​​.​​​​​

Can children be vaccinated?
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No. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is only authorized for administration in patients aged 16 years and older. The Moderna and Janssen/J&J vaccines are 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?
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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.​​​​

Can I contract COVID-19 after I’m vaccinated?
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We have strong evidence that being vaccinated will prevent you from getting severely ill and dying from COVID-19. There may be a small chance that you can still get an asymptomatic infection or mild illness, but growing evidence suggests that being vaccinated makes this possibility much less likely than if you were never vaccinated.

It’s important to keep in mind that 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 because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.​

If I’ve had COVID-19 in the past and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
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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 intravenous monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID vaccine. Otherwise, you can receive a vaccine (either a first or second dose) after you have completed your isolation period. 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.​​​​​​

If I have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past, do I still need to get vaccinated?
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Yes. The CDC recommends that all persons who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past be vaccinated. Individuals should complete their quarantine period prior to visiting a vaccination site.​​​

Do I still need to follow the public health orders and directives after I have been fully vaccinated?
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Yes. At this time, unless a public health order or directive says otherwise, a person’s vaccination status does not exempt them from State and County public health orders and directives. The County will evaluate new data and evidence regarding the effects of vaccination as they come in, and may adjust this policy in the future.​

Do I still need to quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 if I’ve been fully vaccinated?
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No, if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Your exposure occurred after 14 days and less than 90 days after the completion of your vaccine series
  • You do not have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • You are not an inpatient or resident in a healthcare setting or facility
Should I still get tested, wear a mask, and avoid indoor gatherings and breakrooms if I’ve been fully vaccinated?
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Yes. At this time, the Public Health Department’s recommendations for testing and other recommendations apply even if you’ve been fully vaccinated. Regular testing for frontline workers and others with exposure to the public continues to be particularly important. Public Health will adjust its recommendations in the future based on new data and evidence as they come in.​

faqGroupLookupString: 3. Vaccine Eligibility
3. Vaccine Eligibility
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Who is currently eligible to be vaccinated?
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The State determines vaccine eligibility for all Californians and the definitions of the eligible categories for vaccination.  The State’s vaccination website contains the categories of people currently eligible for vaccination and the State’s updated COVID-19 vaccine allocation guidelines provide definitions for these categories.  Depending on vaccine supply, healthcare providers in Santa Clara County are offering vaccines to people in some or all eligible categories.  The providers listed in the “Book an Appointment” section above each list the categories of individuals they are vaccinating if you click on the provider link.​

What if I am unsure if I fit in the eligibility criteria?
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Because vaccination eligibility for Californians and the definitions of the eligible categories are determined by the State, please contact the State for eligibility questions.  The State’s vaccination website contains the categories of people currently eligible for vaccination and the State’s updated COVID-19 vaccine allocation guidelines provides definitions for these categories. 

We know that the State’s categories and definitions can be ambiguous and difficult to follow, but unfortunately have no additional information beyond what the State has posted on its vaccination website.  If you have questions, we recommend calling the State COVID-19 Hotline at 833-422-4255 for more information.  Per the State, the call center is open Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ​

How can I prove my eligibility at a County Health System vaccination site?
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To prove your eligibility at County Health System vaccination sites you will need to sign a document under penalty of perjury confirming that you meet the eligibility criteria and bring a document showing:

  • That you live in Santa Clara County if you are eligible because you are:
    • 50 or above
    • A resident of a long-term care facility
    • A resident of a congregate residential setting or unhoused or
    • 16-49 and have a qualifying severe health condition or disability or illness.
  • That you live or work in Santa Clara County if you are eligible because of your work in:
    • Healthcare
    • Education and childcare
    • Emergency services
    • Food and agriculture
    • A congregate residential setting or
    • Public transit.

Please note that the requirements at vaccination sites run by other providers, such as Kaiser, Stanford, or Palo Alto Medical Foundation, may be different.

The County understands some individuals do not have an updated photo ID or traditional paystub and will accept any reasonable document. For convenience, below are examples of documents the County will accept.

Proof that you live in Santa Clara County

Proof that you work in Santa Clara County

  • Government-issued ID (current or expired)
  • Utility bill
  • Rental agreement
  • Library card
  • Postmarked letter
  • Vehicle registration or insurance
  • Letter from landlord
  • Court document showing name and address
  • Letter or document from a faith-based organization, shelter, or non-profit institution with the name/address of issuing organization
  • Membership card such as union, YMCA, store club card, fitness center, etc.
  • Lease agreement, utility bill, or other document providing address and name of individual that you live with and letter from that individual that they live with you
  • Work ID
  • Paystub showing work address
  • Letter from employer showing work address and that you work for them
  • Letter from union showing your work address 
  • Letter or document from a faith-based organization, shelter, or non-profit institution with the name/address of issuing organization
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How do I know when it’s my turn to get the vaccine?
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The County’s website sccfreevax.org includes the latest information on vaccine eligibility in Santa Clara County. You can also talk to your healthcare provider to find out how they plan to notify you when you become eligible.​​​  Note: All healthcare providers must follow the State’s direction on vaccine eligibility as supplies allow. The State’s vaccination website contains the categories of people currently eligible for vaccination and the State’s updated COVID-19 vaccine allocation guidelines provide definitions for these categories.​​

Are family members who provide in-person health care for another household member with a significant intellectual or developmental disability eligible under Phase 1A?
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Yes, family members who provide the equivalent of nursing care to a family member with a significant intellectual or development disability, such as cerebral palsy or epilepsy, may be vaccinated under Phase 1A.  To demonstrate eligibility, a family member can provide documents from their California regional center or medical documentation verifying the qualifying condition of the household member who has an intellectual or developmental disability and attest that they provide in-person health care to that household member.​​​​

Do parents/family/friends who care for seniors and disabled individuals not able to care for themselves qualify for vaccine under Phase 1A? If so, how do they prove status?
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People who provide significant in-person direct care, such as dressing, bathing feeding, and/or paramedical care, for someone over 65, blind, or disabled and not able to care for themselves, are eligible for vaccination, even if they are unpaid for the care they provide. They need to attest to this fact as part of the vaccination process.​​

faqGroupLookupString: 4. Vaccine Logistics and Timeline
4. Vaccine Logistics and Timeline
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Where will most people get vaccinated when they become eligible?
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​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 have been allocated vaccine to vaccinate their patients as they become eligible. Other entities like the large pharmacy chains (e.g., CVS, Rite Aid, etc.) are also beginning to 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, especially when indoors?
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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. 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, especially when indoors​​.

My family member lives in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. When will he or she be vaccinated?
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The federal government has created a program under which CVS and Walgreens are responsible for vaccinating residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across the United States.  Most of these facilities in Santa Clara County are participating in this federal program, which began vaccinations in our county on December 28, 2020. The few facilities in Santa Clara County that chose not to enroll in this program will have residents and staff vaccinated through the County and its partners. ​​​​​

What will it cost to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
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COVID-19 vaccines are available at no cost, but they are only available to eligible individuals.​​​
Can I add my name to a waiting list if I am not currently eligible for vaccination?
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No, but talk to your healthcare provider to find out how they plan to notify you when you do become eligible.​​​
Who determines how many doses of vaccine are available in Santa Clara County?
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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.​​​​

I don’t have a primary care doctor or insurance, where will I get my vaccine when I’m eligible?
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Under the County’s ‘no wrong door’ policy, all providers (with the exception of the VA) will vaccinate eligible patients regardless of your healthcare provider or insurance. See above to check your eligibility and the latest options for how to book an appointment for your vaccination.​​​​​

Can I choose which vaccine I receive?
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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.​​​ Because all authorized vaccines are safe and effective, it is important that you are vaccinated with the first vaccine that is offered to you to ensure that you are protected as soon as possible.​

Are the county operated mass vaccination sites ADA compliant?
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Yes, all of the County Health System vaccination sites are ADA compliant.​

How are you accommodating individuals who cannot stand in line very long?
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Each vaccination clinic has a special workflow to ensure individuals with disabilities can safely and comfortably access the site. Each site has designated parking for anyone with mobility challenges. Wheelchairs are available as needed onsite to provide access to registration, vaccination, and observation areas to minimize distances to walk between stations.​

How do I cancel an appointment with the County Health System?
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Appointments can be canceled by calling Valley Connections at 408-970-2000. Or, if a patient enters their mobile number during registration, they will receive a confirmation text message the day after that allows for cancellation within 24 hours of the appointment.  ​

 

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Last updated: 4/8/2021 3:11 PM