COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE

WHO CAN GET A COVID VACCINE?

 

  • Anyone age 5 or older can get the Pfizer vaccine (pediatric dose for ages 5-11, adult dose for 12+)

  • Anyone age 18 or older can get the Moderna or Janssen/J&J vaccine.

WHO CAN GET A COVID VACCINE "BOOSTER"?

 

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  • The CDC has approved boosters for all 3 COVID vaccines that are available in the U.S.

  • Who is eligible for a COVID booster?

    • Any adult who received two shots of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago

    • Anyone 18+ who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago

  • Which vaccine booster should you get?
    • Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.
    • Studies show that people who received the J&J vaccine may benefit more from getting a booster of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
    • People who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can a booster of either of these vaccines.​

For more information about these updated recommendations, please see the CDC website

or LA County's simple COVID Booster eligibility chart.

WHERE CAN I GET THE COVID VACCINE?
 

  • Many pharmacies (CVS, Pharmaca, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Vons, Ralphs etc) offer Covid vaccine without appointment. Check availability.

  • OR you can schedule your appointment through any of the following sites:

Please note:

  • Our offices at 901 Wilshire Blvd and in Pacific Palisades have a limited supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. If you are eligible for a COVID vaccine booster and you are an established patient at one of these offices, please schedule an appointment with your doctor to receive the booster.

  • We will post updates on SMFP.care and through "myChart" as new information becomes available.

COVID VACCINE FAQs

General Information

What COVID-19 vaccines are available?


There are three COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the US: - Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (fully FDA-approved as of late August 2021 under the name "Comirnaty") - can be given to people 12 years or older. A pediatric dose for ages 5-11 received emergency use authorization on 11/2/21. It is given as 2 shots, 3 weeks apart, with an additional dose 1 month later for certain immunocompromised individuals . A booster dose 6 months after the initial series is recommended for people at high risk of severe disease.** -the Moderna vaccine (authorized for emergency use by the FDA) - can be given to adults aged 18 or older. It is administered as two shots, given 4 weeks apart, with an additional dose 1 month later for certain immunocompromised individuals. A booster dose 6 months after the initial series is recommended for people at high risk of severe disease.** -the Johnson & Johnson /Janssen vaccine (authorized for emergency use by the FDA) can be given to adults aged 18 or older. It is administered as single dose shot, with a booster to be given 2 months later. The booster can be either a second J&J shot or one of the mRNA boosters (Pfizer or Moderna). **Who should receive a COVID vaccine booster:

  • people aged 65 or older
  • people at high risk due to occupational exposure (e.g. medical personnel, first responders, etc)
  • anyone with a chronic underlying medical condition such as diabetes, BMI>25, moderate to severe asthma or COPD or other lung disease, heart disease, chronic liver or kidney disease.




How are the vaccines administered?


  • The Pfizer vaccine is given in two shots, three weeks apart. A 3rd dose 1 month later is recommended for certain immunocompromised individuals.*
  • The Moderna vaccine is given in two shots, four weeks apart. A 3rd dose 1 month later is recommended for certain immunocompromised individuals.*
  • The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is given as a single dose shot, with a booster to be administered 2 months later (the booster may be either a second J&J vaccine or one of the mRNA vaccines)
*Individuals who should get a 3rd dose of mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine: For moderately to severely immunocompromised people, the CDC is now recommending a 3-dose mRNA vaccine schedule (Moderna or Pfizer). The third dose should be given 1 month after completing the initial 2 doses (or as soon as possible, if it has been longer than 1 month since completing the original 2-dose series). Specifically, this includes people who:
  • are receiving active cancer treatment for cancer
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Have advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Are receiving active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
The CDC has also approved a "booster" dose of COVID vaccine for the following:
  • Anyone who received two shots of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago, AND meets any of the following criteria:
    • age 65 or older
    • Age 18+ and living in long-term care setting
    • Age 18+ with an underlying medical condition (eg diabetes, obesity, moderate to severe asthma or COPD or other lung disease, heart disease, chronic liver or kidney disease)
    • Age 18+ and at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational (e.g. medical personnel, first responders, etc) or institutional setting (e.g. prison)
  • Anyone 18+ who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago




How effective are the vaccines?


According to FDA data: - the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are about 95% effective in preventing severe infection and death due to COVID-19 after both doses are received. Over time and as new variants emerge, the efficacy of these vaccines against symptomatic infection declines, though protection against severe disease remains strong (~90% for Pfizer vaccine, 96% for Moderna vaccine). For people at high risk due to age, underlying health conditions, or exposures due to work or living conditions, vaccine boosters are recommended six months after completing the initial vaccine series - In clinical trials, the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 72% effective at preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 in the U.S., and 66% effective at preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 overall. Due to declining efficacy over time (and against new COVID variants), ALL people who receive the J&J vaccine are now advised to have a booster (with 2nd J&J vaccine or with one of the mRNA vaccines) two months after receiving their initial J&J shot.




How do the vaccines work?


The vaccines stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies against certain proteins found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes Covid. These antibodies block the virus from entering human cells, and thus prevent the virus from replicating and making you sick.




Are the vaccines effective against new COVID-19 variants?


There are several new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These include: the Alpha variant (first reported in the U.K), the Beta variant (first reported in South Africa), the Delta variant (first reported in India, and currently the dominant variant in the US), the Lambda variant (first reported in Peru). The mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech) are both very effective in preventing severe disease and death from Covid. Over time and as new variants emerge, the efficacy of these vaccines against symptomatic infection declines, though protection against severe disease remains strong (~90% for Pfizer vaccine, 96% for Moderna vaccine). The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine is ~71% effective at preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 in the U.S. Based on data from 8/2021 from South Africa, this level of protection against hospitalization for severe disease applies to infection caused by the Delta variant as well. These numbers may continue to change as immunity wanes over time or as new variants continue to emerge. GETTING VACCINATED HELPS TO SLOW THE SPREAD COVID AND REDUCES THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE VIRUS TO MUTATE INTO MORE DANGEROUS FORMS.




Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?


NO. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines include a small piece of genetic material from the virus (messenger RNA, or mRNA); this material tells your cells to make a "spike" protein which your body then recognizes as a "threat", which your immune system fights off by producing antibodies against future infection. The mRNA cannot replicate the full viral particle, and therefore cannot cause COVID infection.




Why should I get the vaccine?


COVID-19 kills between 1 and 4 percent of people infected with the virus. The death rate is highest in people over 65 or those with underlying medical conditions (such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, lung disease). People who survive COVID-19 can still suffer significant long-term complications from the disease, including damage to the lungs, heart, and nervous system. Some symptoms can last for weeks or even months, including: fatigue, "brain fog", chest pain, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or smell. The COVID-19 vaccine will save lives and decrease the risk of long term complications. The more people who get vaccinated, the better our ability to stop the spread of COVID-19.

GETTING VACCINATED HELPS TO SLOW THE SPREAD COVID AND REDUCES THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE VIRUS TO MUTATE INTO MORE DANGEROUS FORMS.




I already had COVID - should I still get the vaccine?


Yes. We do not know how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again, so you should still get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have already recovered. However:

  • You cannot receive the vaccine if you currently have an active COVID-19 infection.
  • You may choose to hold off getting the vaccine for up to 3 months after you have COVID, as you likely have some degree of protection from antibodies your immune system made while you were ill. However, it is still possible to get re-infected, particularly since new COVID variants continue to emerge and spread.




Is there a COVID vaccine for children or adolescents?


For 12-16 year olds - YES. As of 5/10/21, the FDA extended its Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to adolescents age 12-16.

For 5-11 year olds – YES. As of 11/2/21, the Pfizer pediatric dose is available under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization, and is recommended by the CDC for 5-11 year olds.

Under 5 years old: Not yet.




Do I need a "booster" shot?


Yes, if you meet certain criteria. The CDC is recommending a "booster" dose of COVID vaccine for the following:

  • Anyone who received two shots of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago, AND is:
    • age 65 or older
    • Age 18+ and living in a long-term care setting
    • Age 18+ with an underlying medical condition (eg diabetes, obesity, moderate to severe asthma or COPD or other lung disease, heart disease, chronic liver or kidney disease)
    • Age 18+ and at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational (e.g. medical personnel, first responders, etc) or institutional setting (e.g. prison)
  • Anyone 18+ who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago
The CDC also recommends that moderately to severely immunocompromised people who received both initial doses of mRNA vaccine should get a 3rd dose to complete their vaccination series. This 3rd dose should be given 1 month after the 2nd shot (or as soon as possible if more than a month has passed since the 2nd shot). People who need this 3rd dose include:
  • are receiving active cancer treatment for cancer
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Have advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Are receiving active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
For more information about these updated recommendations, please see the CDC website




Can I "mix and match" the booster shot?


YES.

Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Preliminary evidence suggests that mixing two Covid vaccine types produces a stronger immune response than matching the booster to the initial vaccine. Booster doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) seem to raise antibody levels higher than a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.





Safety & Side Effects

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?


All the COVID-19 vaccines being used have gone through rigorous studies to ensure they are as safe as possible. Systems that allow CDC to watch for safety issues are in place across the entire country. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines that have been shown to meet rigorous safety criteria and be effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials. READ MORE ABOUT COVID VACCINE SAFETY HERE




What are the possible side effects of the vaccine?


Some people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine may experience side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Common side effects include:

  • Pain, swelling, or rash on the arm where you get the shot
  • Fever/chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
Rare but serious side effects may include:
  • blood clots that may present as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath (~ 7 cases per million vaccine doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, typically among women ages 18-49)
  • myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation of the muscle or sac surrounding the heart) presenting as shortness of breath or chest pain (~12.6 cases per million doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, typically among 12-39 year olds, with onset of symptoms within 1 week of the second vaccine dose).
If you experience any of these serious side effects, seek medical attention




Can the vaccines cause a serious allergic reaction?


While serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) can occur, they are very rare. Current estimates are 11 per million doses of Pfizer vaccine and 2.5 per million doses of Moderna. People with a history of prior anaphylaxis are at increased risk and should discuss this with their primary care physician or allergist prior to getting vaccinated.




What can I do to prevent or treat side effects from the vaccine?


If you take aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) for a medical reason, you can continue to take it as directed. However, it is recommended that you do not take any of these medicines on the day you are scheduled for your vaccine (prior to getting the shot) because they could dull your body’s immune response. If you have a fever or body aches after being vaccinated, you may take acetaminophen (Tylenol) as needed. You should also NOT take antihistamines (like Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, or Benadryl) BEFORE getting the vaccine as these may mask an immediate allergic reaction.




Who should NOT get the COVID-19 vaccine?


Do NOT get the vaccine if you:

  • have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get that specific vaccine.
  • had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) after getting the first shot, you should not get the second shot.
  • have had an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get either of the currently available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Click HERE for a list of vaccine ingredients.
  • are allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate
If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injections, you should ask your doctor whether you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. People with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injections may still get vaccinated. You CAN get the vaccine even if you have a:
  • History of allergies to oral medications
  • Family history of severe allergic reactions
  • Milder allergy to vaccines




Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?


YES. It is recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women get the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the vaccine can help reduce the risk of COVID complications during pregnancy and can help protect your baby. For more information, CLICK HERE.




I already had COVID - should I still get the vaccine?


Yes. We do not know how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again, so you should still get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have already recovered. However:

  • You cannot receive the vaccine if you currently have an active COVID-19 infection.
  • You may choose to hold off getting the vaccine for up to 3 months after you have COVID, as you likely have some degree of protection from antibodies your immune system made while you were ill. However, it is still possible to get re-infected, particularly since new COVID variants continue to emerge and spread.





Distribution & Scheduling

When can I get the vaccine?


Anyone age 12 or up is eligible to receive a COVID vaccine. Many pharmacies are now administering the vaccine without appointments, but you can also schedule a vaccination appointment through any of the following:




How do I schedule a vaccine appointment?


You can schedule a vaccination appointment through any of the following:




Where can I get the vaccine?


Many pharmacies (CVS, Pharmaca, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Vons, Ralphs etc) offer Covid vaccine without appointment. OR you can schedule your appointment through any of the following:




Can I choose which vaccine I will receive?


Yes. When you schedule your vaccine appointment, you can find out which vaccine is being offered at that location.




How much does the COVID-19 vaccine cost?


At this time, the COVID-19 vaccine is free. If you have insurance, your insurance provider may be charged for the vaccine administration, but there will be no out-of-pocket cost for you. If you do not have insurance, there is no cost.





Life after Vaccination

Can I still get or transmit COVID after being vaccinated?


People who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to get infected with COVID, and therefore less likely to transmit infection to others. However:

  • Protection from the vaccine doesn't kick in immediately. Both doses of the vaccine are required, and it may take up to 2 weeks after the second dose to get to maximal immunity.
  • Vaccine efficacy declines over time, so if you are eligible for a booster dose, it is important to get one in order to bolster your immunity against infection.
  • Breakthrough infections can happen despite vaccination. While COVID infection tends to be much less severe in people who are vaccinated, the virus can be spread to others.
This is why it's important that even after getting vaccinated, you continue to wear a mask and practice good hand hygeine.




What are the possible side effects of the vaccine?


Some people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine may experience side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Common side effects include:

  • Pain, swelling, or rash on the arm where you get the shot
  • Fever/chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
Rare but serious side effects may include:
  • blood clots that may present as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath (~ 7 cases per million vaccine doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, typically among women ages 18-49)
  • myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation of the muscle or sac surrounding the heart) presenting as shortness of breath or chest pain (~12.6 cases per million doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, typically among 12-39 year olds, with onset of symptoms within 1 week of the second vaccine dose).
If you experience any of these serious side effects, seek medical attention




What can I do to treat side effects from the vaccine?


If you have a fever or body aches after being vaccinated, you may take acetaminophen (Tylenol) as needed. Rare but serious side effects may include:

  • blood clots that may present as severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath (~ 7 cases per million vaccine doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, typically among women ages 18-49)
  • myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation of the muscle or sac surrounding the heart) presenting as shortness of breath or chest pain (~12.6 cases per million doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, typically among 12-39 year olds, with onset of symptoms within 1 week of the second vaccine dose).
If you experience any serious side effects, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, severe headache, abdominal pain, or leg pain SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION




Do I still need to wear a mask after being vaccinated?


While data suggest the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are very effective, no vaccine is 100% effective, and we do not yet know how long immunity will last after getting the two required shots. The Delta variant is especially easy to spread--and can be spread by fully vaccinated people who get infected and remain asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Therefore, we must continue to follow public health guidelines regarding masks and physical distancing. These guidelines may be updated based on local prevalence of Covid infection. Healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and schools still require people to wear masks, and other businesses may also have mask requirements. Anyone who is immunosuppressed or at high risk for Covid (even if fully vaccinated) should continue to wear masks while indoors/in public.




How long does protection from the vaccine last?


Protective antibodies that our bodies produce in response to vaccination wane over time. Clinical trials continue to monitor vaccine efficacy over time. Some immunocompromised people may not mount as robust an immune response to the vaccine, and should receive a 3rd shot of mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine 1 month after completing the 2nd dose. People who are at high risk of severe disease may benefit from a "booster" shot as well. This includes:

The CDC is recommending a "booster" dose of COVID vaccine for the following:

  • Anyone who received two shots of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago, AND is:
    • age 65 or older
    • Age 18+ and living in a long-term care setting
    • Age 18+ with an underlying medical condition (eg diabetes, obesity, moderate to severe asthma or COPD or other lung disease, heart disease, chronic liver or kidney disease)
    • Age 18+ and at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational (e.g. medical personnel, first responders, etc) or institutional setting (e.g. prison)
  • Anyone 18+ who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago





Updated 11/21/21