About the COVID-19 Vaccine
Why should I get vaccinated?  

The vaccine is one of the best tools available for ending the pandemic. The vaccine offers hope of sending our kids back to school, going to concerts and birthday parties, wine tasting, and enjoying normal life on the Central Coast. 
 

Here’s how it works: When your body is exposed to a virus, your immune system quickly gets to work fighting that infection. After the infection, your body remembers what it learned so it can protect you from getting sick again. The COVID-19 vaccine is an instruction manual for your immune system to protect you from that disease before you’ve had it. It helps your body develop germ-fighting antibodies that will recognize and fight the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. (CDC) 
 

How safe and effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?  

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are safe and effectiveIn addition to receiving Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, the vaccines were separately vetted by California’s Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, who confirmed that all three vaccines have met high standards for safety and efficacy.   

Read more about the authorized vaccines.   

What is a mRNA vaccine?  Can it affect my DNA?  

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is found in all living cells. mRNA vaccines work by teaching cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside your body. This immune response tells your body to produce infection-fighting antibodies, specifically designed to protect you from a COVID-19 infection before being exposed to the virus. 

mRNA is not the same as DNA, and it cannot combine with DNA to change your genetic code. Additionally, mRNA is relatively fragile, and only lasts in your cell for about 72 hours before degrading. mRNA vaccines do not affect or interact with DNA in any way. mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, where DNA is stored. For more information on mRNA vaccines, see  Understanding and Explaining mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines (CDC).  

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?   
No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. None of the vaccines currently in use in the United States contain the live coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine teaches your immune system how to fight off the virus, and sometimes this process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and a sign that the body is building up its protections against the virus. (CDC)  
What are the possible side effects?   

Mild side effects after you get the vaccine are normal, and a positive sign that your body is building protection against the virus.  
 

Common side effects include pain or swelling where you got the shot, fatigue, headache, or fever. These side effects should last no longer than a few days. To reduce pain or discomfort, you should talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. 
 

How many doses of COVID-19 vaccine are required?   
The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are both administered in a two-dose series, and both doses are required for the vaccine to be fully effective. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is administered in a single dose. It typically takes a few weeks for your body to be fully protected following your final dose of vaccine.  
Can you still get the virus even after getting vaccinated?  

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, but it takes time for your body to build immunity after being vaccinated. You may be exposed to the virus before your body has had enough time to build up its natural defenses with the help of the vaccine.  
 

It will take a few weeks after receiving vaccine for the full protection to take effect, but even then, no vaccine is 100% effective. The important thing to remember is that getting vaccinated is not an immediate cure-all and you must continue to take protective measures to protect yourself and those around you.      

What are the differences between the authorized vaccines?   

SeeAbout the Leading Vaccines. 

Which vaccine will I get?  

The Public Health Department, hospitals, and long-term care facilities expect to administer Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the weeks ahead. All three that received FDA emergency-use authorization have been through a rigorous testing and review process nationally and additionally by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, and the State of California.  

You can now choose which vaccine you would like to receive when booking your vaccine appointment through MyTurn.ca.gov. Currently, County Public Health is administering both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at community vaccine clinics across the county. Those seeking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can check www.VaccineFinder.org for availability through local pharmacies. You can read more about each vaccine here: About the Leading Vaccines. 

Should I get the vaccine if I’m pregnant?   

Yes, if you are pregnant, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

 

People who are pregnant are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. While pregnant people were not included in clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines, based on how mRNA vaccines work, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for those who are pregnant. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding (CDC). 

 

In addition to these guidelines, we recommend that people who are pregnant or breastfeeding speak directly with their healthcare provider to make an informed decision based on their specific health situation and considerations.      

Should I get vaccinated if I have allergies?  

In most cases, yes. The CDC recommends that people with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications (such as allergies to food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies) get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions may also get vaccinated.

If you have had an allergic reaction to other types of vaccines, you should consult your doctor to see if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated.

If you have had an allergic reaction to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Polysorbate is not an ingredient in either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine but is closely related to PEG, an ingredient in the vaccines.* (CDC – allergies

Who participated in the clinic trial?  

Pfizer 

  • 30,000 enrolled 

  • 89 clinical sites in 32 U.S. states 

  • Racial/ethnic distribution: 

  • 63% White 

  • 20% Hispanic/Latino (>5.5k) 

  • 10% African American/Black (>4k) 

  • 4% Asian 

  • 3% All others 

  • Age distribution: 

  • 39% ages 45-64 

  • 25% ages 65+ 

  • 43,931 enrolled  

  • 150 clinical sites in 39 U.S. states 

  • Racial/ethnic distribution: 

  • 70% White 

  • 13% Hispanic/Latino (>5.5k) 

  • 10% African American/Black (>4k) 

  • 6% Asian 

  • 1% Native American 

  • Age distribution: 

  • 45% ages 56-85 

 
How is safety of the COVID-19 vaccines monitored in the U.S.?   

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective based on large clinical trials with diverse participants. 

There are systems in place to monitor for adverse events and side effects of the vaccine in real-time, including: 

  • V-safe app from the CDC is a smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. V-safe uses text messaging and surveys to check in with COVID-19 vaccine recipients after vaccination, allowing researchers to continually study vaccine safety on all populations.  

  • The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national system used by the CDC and the FDA. This system collects reports from healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the public regarding any adverse events that may happen after vaccination.       

  • National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) is an acute and long-term facility monitoring system that reports to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).  

  • Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) is a network of nine healthcare organizations from across the US that conduct active surveillance and research. This system is used to aid in determining if possible side effects identified in the VAERS are actually related to the vaccine. 

  • Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project is a collaboration between seven medical research institutions and the CDC. CISA provides consultation on a case by case basis, and conducts research about vaccine safety. 

More information about how the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine is ensured can be viewed  here. 

 
Am I required to get the vaccine?   

No, the vaccine is not mandatory for anyone. Right now, the limited supply of vaccine is going to those who would like to take it.   

Currently Vaccinating
Who is currently eligible for vaccine?
All SLO County residents age 16 and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. For more information, visit our When and Where page.   
Appointment Reservation
How can I book my first-dose appointment?   

COVID-19 vaccine appointments are now available through My Turn. You can use My Turn to book both your 1st and 2nd doses at the Public Health Vaccine Clinics in San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, and Paso Robles. 

 

To schedule your appointment, visit www.MyTurn.ca.gov 

 

If you need assistance, please call the CA COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-5pm. 

 

You can also use www.VaccineFinder.org to find vaccine appointments available through other community providers and pharmacies. 

 

Learn more on the Appointment Reservation page. 

How can I book my second-dose appointment?   

Use our second-dose calculator to get a recommended date for your second dose. Then, schedule your second-dose appointment at MyTurn.ca.gov

If you need assistance, please call the CA COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-5pm. 

Will I receive a confirmation that I’ve booked an appointment?  

Yes. After booking a vaccine appointment through My Turn, individuals who have an email and/or mobile phone will receive an appointment confirmation via email and/or SMS text. These individuals will also receive an appointment reminder 24 hours before their appointment and a post-appointment notification.   

How can I change or cancel my vaccination appointment?   

If you need to cancel your vaccine appointment booked through MyTurnyou’ll be able to use the link provided in the confirmation email and/or SMS message labeled “Manage your appointments” to cancel your appointment and book a new appointment. 

If you need assistance, please call the CA COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-5pm.   

What documentation will I need to bring to my appointment?   

To show that you are eligible for vaccine, please bring documentation showing your agesuch as a driver’s license, state ID, passport, birth certificate, etc.   

Note: You do not need to be a United States citizen to receive the vaccine. We will never ask about citizenship or immigration status.   

Can I get transportation to my appointment?   
  • Residents 75 and older: Rides are available for eligible residents age 75 and older, as well as current RTA Runabout riders, who need door-to-door transportation to a vaccination site. Once you have booked your vaccine appointment, you will be given a phone number to schedule a no-cost roundtrip if you are eligible.
  • Residents with a disability: SLO County residents with a disability can get connected with transportation resources through the Independent Living Resource Center. Call their San Luis Obispo office at 805-462-1162 for more information about transportation resources that may be available to you.
  • Residents on CenCal/Medi-Cal: CenCal members can receive free/paid transportation to a County vaccine clinic if they have an appointment. Members must call 48-hours before the appointment is scheduled. Members and providers may contact Ventura Transit System (VTS) directly at (855) 659-4600 for transportation services, or call CenCal Health's Member Services Department at 1 (877) 814-1861 for assistance.
I got my first dose from French Hospital or another community provider that is not SLO County Public Health. Can I get my second dose from the County? 
If you received your first dose of vaccine from another local provider, they will provider further instructions on how to get your second dose from them. We cannot offer second doses to people who did not receive their first dose from County Public Health. 
How should people without access to a computer, email, or mobile phone schedule an appointment?

Individuals without access to a computer, email, or mobile phone can receive assistance by calling the CA COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-5pm. 
 

Note: unless an email or mobile number is provided, these individuals will not receive an appointment confirmation notification or appointment reminder. Those without mobile phones can provide their relative's or loved one's mobile phone number to receive an appointment confirmation notification or reminder. 

Local Distribution
Who is providing vaccines in SLO County? Where can I get vaccinated when it’s my turn?   

All SLO County residents age 16 and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. You can book your vaccine appointment by visiting MyTurn.ca.gov, or by calling the CA COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-5pm.  

How does the County ensure that the vaccine is being distributed in a fair and equitable way?  

San Luis Obispo County’s COVID-19 Vaccine Values & Principles: 

  1. Provide transparent and accurate information to help people make vaccine decisions 
  2. Share regularly updated statistics and vaccine data for our county 
  3. Utilize the SLO County Vaccine Task Force to represent the diversity of our community and advise on equitable distribution  
  4. Lead with safety and equity, prioritizing our most vulnerable residents 
  5. Leverage all venues and partners for broad distribution (Community Vaccine Clinics, Hospitals, Pharmacies, and more)  
What is the role of the Federal, State, and Local government in vaccine planning?   

Federal agencies will decide: 

  • Which vaccines are approved for use in United States (FDA) 

  • How much vaccine will be allocated to each state (CDC) 

  • Overall framework for who gets vaccine at each phase of the rollout (CDC) 

  • Ongoing research, monitoring, and oversight (NIH, FDA, CDC) 

 
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will decide: 

  • Which vaccine(s) will be used in CA 

  • How much vaccine will be allocated to each local health jurisdiction/county 

  • State-specific framework for who will get vaccine when (per federal guidelines) 

  • Which data systems will be used across the state to monitor vaccine distribution and uptake 

  • Ongoing data collection, monitoring and oversight 

 
SLO County Public Health will: 

  • Coordinate local infrastructure for vaccine storage, distribution, & administration 

  • Promote equitable distribution across local communities 

  • Develop County-specific framework for who gets vaccine when (per state guidelines) 

  • Conduct ongoing data reporting and monitoring 

How do I contact the State about questions related to vaccine allocation to SLO County?  
For questions on how the State decides how much vaccine to allocate to SLO County, please call the California Department of Public Health at (833) 422-4255 Monday through Friday 8AM-8PM, Weekends 8AM-5PM. 
Where can I see how many vaccines have been administered so far?   
Check out our detailed Vaccine Dashboard, with weekly updated statistics on vaccine distribution progress in SLO County.  
I am a health care provider—when will my clinic be able to provide vaccine to our patients  

Health care providers in SLO County are encouraged to enroll to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine and administer the vaccine to eligible patients.  

Getting Vaccinated
Does it cost money to get the vaccine?   

The COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge at County community vaccine clinics, regardless of insurance coverage or immigration status. You can sign up for your free COVID-19 vaccine through County Public Health by visiting MyTurn.ca.gov. 

 

*Note: Some local pharmacies may bill your insurance provider or charge an administrative fee to those without insurance. If you wish to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from a local pharmacy, check directly with them about their policies and fees.   

  
What do I need to bring to show that I’m eligible? 
See What documentation will I need to bring to my appointment?    
What else should I bring to my appointment? How long should I expect to be there? 
  • Please print, fill out, and bring your completed screening form / forumulario de examen para vacunas with you to your appointment.  

  • Be prepared to spend up to one hour for the entire process. This includes registration, screening, vaccination, and an observation period. After you get your vaccine, you will be asked to sit outside for a 15-minute observation period following your vaccination. Check the weather beforehand so you can dress appropriately.  

  • Please wear short sleeves or other clothing that makes it easy to access your upper arm. 

How are you accommodating those who have trouble walking?  
At all vaccine sites, we are prepared to provide vaccine to people who have trouble walking or have other access and functional needs. When you arrive at the site, a greeter will help ensure you receive the support you need.   
May I bring a family member with me when I get the vaccine, like I would at a doctor’s appointment?   
Yes. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine, you may bring a family member or other support person to accompany you through your appointment. (This person will not receive the vaccine.) If you need support at the appointment and do not bring someone with you, we will help you. 
Can I take over-the-counter pain medicine after my vaccine? 
Mild side effects such as arm soreness, headache, or fatigue are normal following the vaccine. In most cases, it is okay to take an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help manage these types of symptoms after you get your vaccine. Talk more with your primary care doctor if you have concerns. 
Are you accepting walk-ins?  

Yes. County vaccine clinics in Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande are now offering the COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment. (Please note: Cuesta College remains appointment-only). Days and hours of operation may vary  for up-to-date hours and open days, visit www.RecoverSLO.org/Vaccine.   

 

Appointments are also available at all three of the County’s community vaccine clinics, in Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, for those who wish to confirm their preferred time and vaccine type. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at any of the County’s community clinics, visit myturn.ca.gov or call (833) 422-4255. 

What happens to extra doses at the end of the day?   
Near the end of the day, County-operated COVID-19 vaccine clinics may find that they have several extra doses of vaccine, due to no-show appointments or because there were remaining doses from opened vials. To avoid waste, vaccine clinics may administer extra doses to community members who walk up without an appointment, or transfer those doses to another vaccine location in need of additional doses.      
When will I be immune?   
See Can you still get the virus even after getting vaccinated?  
How long will the immunity last?   
We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data.  
If I recently received a different vaccine, may I still receive a COVID-19 vaccine?   
If you have received a vaccination within the past 14 days, you are not able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.  If you are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, please wait 14 days past your last vaccination. 
If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, should I still get the vaccine?   

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection is possible, the CDC recommends that you still get the vaccine even if you have already recovered from COVID-19 infection. (CDC) 

Current evidence suggests that your body has natural immunity for at least 90 days following an infection, probably longer. For this reason, we ask that while supply is limited, anyone recovering from a recent COVID-19 infection wait to get the vaccine until 90 days has passed, so that someone who does not have natural immunity can go first. 

However, it will not hurt you to get the shot during that time. If you are medically vulnerable, or have an opportunity to get a shot now and may have trouble getting it later, it's okay to get the vaccine before 90 days has passed. 

If I currently have COVID-19, can I get the vaccine?   

Those currently infected with COVID-19 need to wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and they have met criteria to discontinue isolation.  Anyone who is currently sick with any illness should wait to be vaccinated.  

Do I need to wear a mask and continue social distancing after I’ve received the vaccine?   
Until vaccination coverage increases, some prevention measures will continue to be necessary in some settings for all people, regardless of vaccination status.  However, there are some activities that fully vaccinated people can resume now, at low risk. View the CDC’s Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People for detail  
When can I stop wearing a mask?   
There is not currently enough information for the CDC to anticipate when they will stop recommending the use of masks and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Factors such as how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities will shed further light on this decision. (CDC
Are there other vaccines or medicines that can help prevent me from getting COVID-19?   

The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are the only vaccines currently authorized for use in preventing COVID-19. Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are still under development and large-scale clinical trials are in progress or being planned for additional COVID-19 vaccines in the US. 

 

A flu vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it can protect you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19 and may lessen your risk of severe illness. (CDC)  

I’m fully vaccinated, can I gather with others who are fully vaccinated as well? 

View the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people.