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After almost a year of social distancing and pandemic worry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally authorized two vaccines for emergency use against COVID-19. One of the vaccines is made by Pfizer-BioNTech while the other is made by Moderna. 

When can I get vaccinated? 

The new vaccines are limited in supply and there is not enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone who wants it. In light of this scarcity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laid out a recommended schedule for vaccination, with priority groups receiving the first vacations. As such, Contra Costa County’s vaccine schedule is as follows: 

Phase 1A – Tier 1healthcare workerand residents and staff in long-term care facilities 

Phase 1A – Tier 2: persons in intermediate care facilities for individuals who need non-continuous nursing supervision and supportive care, persons receiving home health care and in-home supportive services, community health workers, public health field staff, and primary care clinic workers 

Phase 1A – Tier 3: Other healthcare workers, including workers in laboratories, specialty clinics, dental and other oral health clinics, and pharmacy staff not working at settings at higher tiers 

Phase 1B: People age 75 and older and frontline essential workers, such as firefighters and teachers 

Phase 1C: People between the ages of 65-74, people ages 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers such as construction workers 

Phase 2All people ages 16 years and older who are not in Phase 1 

Contra Costa County is following the CDC’s advice and has begun to vaccinate the groups in Phase 1A – Tier 1: healthcare workers and the staff and residents of longterm care facilities.1  Supplies of the vaccine are limited, and it will take some time to vaccinate everyone. Contra Costa County health officials anticipate that all people 16 years and older will be able to receive the vaccine in 2021. 

Why should I get vaccinated? 

Vaccinating yourself protects you and those around you by reducing infection and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Trials of Moderna’s and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines have shown that the vaccines are highly effective at preventing infection with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Getting vaccinated could save the lives of you and your loved ones. 

Is the vaccine safe? 

Vaccines have a long history of being both safe and effective. While the Coronavirus vaccines against COVID-19 have been developed rapidly, processes and procedures remain in effect to ensure that these vaccines are safe. Thus far, more than 70,000 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine as part of a vaccine trial. Furthermore, the CDC has an independent group of experts that reviews all vaccine safety data as it comes in and provides safety updates. California is also reviewing the vaccines’ clinic data on its own initiative to make sure that the vaccines are safe for Californians.2  

Where can I get the vaccine? 

COVID-19 vaccines will be offered at doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers. Contra Costa County also plans to offer the vaccine at mass vaccination fairs and public health immunization clinics. 

Are there any side effects from the vaccine? 

Many people who take the COVID-19 vaccine will experience some mild short-term side effects. The most common side effects are pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain, joint pain, and feverWhile these symptoms may be unpleasant, they pose less risk to your health than contracting the COVID-19 will because COVID-19 can be deadly, particularly for seniors. You can address these symptoms by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, using and exercising your arm, and drinking fluids. These side effects are normal. Side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working and that your body is building immunity.3  

Which vaccine will I get and how many doses will I need? 

So far, two vaccines are available in Contra Costa County: one developed by Moderna and one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech. These vaccines require two doses, spread three to four weeks apart. Other vaccines will likely become available once they have been approved by the FDA.4  

If I already had COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated? 

Yes, you should still get vaccinated even if you already had COVID-19. Scientists don’t know how long a person is protected from COVID-19 after they have the disease. While that natural immunity against the disease may last a long time, we cannot say for sure that persons who have had the disease will have long-term immunity. Vaccinating yourself is a good way to protect yourself from future infection should your immunity wane.5   

Do I still need to wear a face covering and social distance after getting the vaccine?  

Yes, you should continue to wear a face covering, wash hands often, and social distance after getting the vaccine. Vaccines are not 100% effective and continuing to take these protective measures will increase your protection. By continuing to practice protective measures after vaccination, you will further decrease your chance of contracting COVID-19 and of spreading the disease to others.5  

Beware of vaccine scams 

If you receive an email offering a cheap vaccine through the mail, beware! This may be a scam. Do not respond to vaccine offers that ask for personal or financial information. You cannot pay to get your name on a list to obtain the vaccine and you cannot pay to gain early access to the vaccine. No legitimate health entity or individual will call you about the vaccine and ask for personal information, such as your social security number, bank account information, or credit card number.7   

Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is! 

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine scams:  

To learn more about COVID-19, vaccines, and Contra Costa County’s vaccination plans, click here:  

To learn more about Contra Costa County’s vaccine distribution plans, click here:  


1  Contra Costa Health Services, COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Phases,  

2  Contra Costa Health Services, Frequently Asked Questions,  

3  Contra Costa Health Services, Frequently Asked Questions,  

24/sup>  Contra Costa Health Services, Frequently Asked Questions,  

5 Contra Costa Health Services, Frequently Asked Questions, 

6  Contra Costa Health Services, Frequently Asked Questions, 

7  Federal Trade Commission,