Alameda County and the City of Berkeley are both administering COVID-19 vaccines free-of-charge to certain groups of people. These vaccines can greatly reduce the chances of recipients from becoming infected with COVID-19, and as a result, make those around them safer as well.
Vaccines do not make their recipients sick with COVID-19, nor do they cause recipients to test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test. Those who have already been sick with COVID-19 and have recovered should still consider being vaccinated for COVID-19, because being infected once does not necessarily prevent you from reinfection in the future.
Who is eligible?
Currently, those eligible to receive a vaccine in Berkeley and Alameda County are residents 65 and older, and healthcare workers. Also eligible are those who work in food and agriculture, education and childcare, and emergency services departments.
Starting March 15, people aged 16 to 64 with certain underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to extreme illness or death as a result of COVID-19 will become eligible for vaccines as well.
Where can I get my vaccine?
There are several locations at which people can receive vaccines. The Oakland Coliseum administers vaccines to healthcare workers, people aged 65 and older, food and agriculture workers, and educators. This location offers drive through and walk-up appointments.
Other vaccine locations include CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies — only for healthcare workers and people 65 and older — Walgreens pharmacies, and one’s own health care provider. The website vaccinefinder.org can be used to find vaccine locations near a given zip code for more personalized information.
How do I sign up?
My Turn can be used to schedule vaccine appointments, as well as determine if someone is eligible for a vaccine. New appointment slots are released throughout the day on the website, so checking My Turn several times a day may increase one’s chances of getting an appointment.
What should I bring to my appointment?
Make sure to wear a mask and bring an ID. If you have one, bring your health insurance card as well. Remember to have your vaccine appointment confirmation on hand.
If you are receiving your second dose, also bring the card you received after getting your first dose. This is the card that proves you have been vaccinated.
What are the vaccines?
There are currently three vaccines authorized for distribution under Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One is made by Pfizer and BioNTech, one is made by Moderna, and the last is made by Janssen, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson. All three offer strong protection against COVID-19.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been proven to be 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19. It consists of two separate shots, administered 21 days apart. It is authorized for those 16 and up.
The Moderna vaccine has been proven to be 94.1 percent effective at preventing COVID-19. It consists of two separate shots, administered 28 days apart. It is authorized for those 18 and up.
The Janssen vaccine has been proven to be 66 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, and 85 percent effective at preventing severe COVID-19 28 days after vaccination. It consists of one shot and is authorized for those 18 and up.
While no vaccine has a one hundred percent success rate, all three are very effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization. Getting a vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you from COVID-19.
What side effects are there?
Many, but not all, experience normal side effects after receiving the vaccine. These side effects may include pain, redness, and swelling in the arm in which the shot was administered. After receiving the second dose, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, chills, fever, and nausea are also common. However, those symptoms may appear after the first dose for some as well. These effects typically aren’t cause for concern and go away after a few days.
If you experience adverse effects after a COVID-19 vaccination, you can report it to VAERS or V-safe. Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to a dose of a vaccine or to any ingredient in the vaccine should not receive it.
What happens once I’m vaccinated?
Even after receiving the full dose of a vaccine, it is still important to social distance, wear a face covering, and wash your hands frequently to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
After any of the vaccines, it takes the body two weeks to develop immunity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released new guidelines for fully vaccinated people, providing information on what they can now do safely.
What’s the vaccine passport?
Recently, a few countries, including the US, have begun considering whether to implement a vaccine passport system. Such a system would enable citizens to prove that they’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 and would likely be used for travel and granting people access to public spaces, like indoor seating at restaurants. Currently, it is unknown whether vaccine passports will be implemented in the US.
How can I help?
If you are interested in volunteering or donating to the community during this time, opportunities relating to food, education, healthcare, and more are available at covid.lbl.gov/donation-and-volunteer-opportunities-in-the-bay-area and success.ucsf.edu/volunteer. VolunteerMatch can also be used to find volunteer opportunities near a certain zip code. If you are 18 or older, you can also volunteer at local vaccination sites.
More information about COVID-19 vaccines is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html.
Update: photo caption was changed.