COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Last updated: April 20, 2021.

Who can get vaccinated currently by APLA Health?

As of April 15, APLA Health is vaccinating anyone 18 and older (subject to vaccine appointment availability). The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine approved for people aged 16-18 and APLA Health does not currently administer this vaccine. 

What vaccines are available from APLA Health?

APLA Health is currently providing COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible patients using the Moderna (two dose) vaccine.
Out of an abundance of caution, we have temporarily suspended use of the Johnson & Johnson (single dose) vaccine at the direction of the F.D.A. while it investigates extremely rare blood clots. The blood clotting so far appears to affect just one out of every million people injected with the vaccine, and it is not yet clear if the vaccine is the cause.

Where can we make a vaccination appointment?

Please use our vaccine registration page to make your appointment. 

All available vaccines and their respective appointment slots are listed on the site above. We respectfully ask that you refrain from calling the clinic offices regarding vaccine availability. We are working diligently to meet all of our patients’ medical needs, and these individual inquiries impair our ability to provide quality care. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

If your APLA Health location does not currently have vaccine appointments available, we strongly encourage all vaccine-eligible patients to use L.A. County’s public health agency website (VaccinateLACounty.com) to make an appointment to be vaccinated by clicking “Click here to book an appointment” or by calling (833) 540-0473 between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Alternatively, the City of Los Angeles has partnered with Carbon Health to administer vaccines. You can sign-up on Carbon Health’s website(carbonhealth.com/covid-19-vaccines and schedule an appointment or join the waitlist if you currently are not eligible to receive the vaccine. All L.A. County residents (not just residents of the City of Los Angeles) who are eligible can make an appointment through Carbon Health when slots are available.

What is a vaccine

A vaccine is a substance that stimulates your immune system to make antibodies — blood proteins produced in response to a foreign substance — as it would if you were exposed to the actual disease. After vaccination, you develop immunity to the disease, so you are protected from getting sick if you get exposed.

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

The Moderna vaccine uses a technique known as mRNA, or messenger RNA. These vaccines give our cells instructions to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” This protein is found on the surface of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The spike protein is what our immune system recognizes. That triggers our immune system to mount an attack and fend off infection.

Once these molecular instructions, or mRNA, are injected, your cells use it to make the spike protein; then, the mRNA is broken down and eliminated. The spike protein is produced, triggering our immune system to make antibodies against it, just as it would if it were exposed to the real coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In this way, the body learns how to protect itself when and if the real virus shows up.

The mRNA vaccines don’t use the live virus that causes COVID-19, nor does the mRNA get into the cell’s nucleus, where our DNA (genetic material) is stored.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a modified cold virus—an adenovirus called Ad26—as the viral vector. Several genes have been removed from this virus so that it cannot multiply in the body, which also means that it cannot give someone COVID-19. As with the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, this vaccine is directed against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

How are the vaccines administered?

COVID-19 vaccines will be administered by intramuscular (IM) injection, a shot in the arm.

How many doses do you need?

Only one dose is needed for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Two doses are needed for the Moderna vaccine, with 28 days between doses.

How will I know to get my second dose?

After receiving your first Moderna vaccine shot, you will receive a paper immunization record that will be completed at the time of vaccination. It will include the vaccine you received, date and location, and date when your next shot is needed. Individuals will be reminded by APLA Health when it’s time to receive their second shot.

What happens if you don’t take the second dose?

Protection is assumed to be less. In data that Moderna submitted to the FDA before its Dec. 17 review for its request for emergency use authorization, for instance, its analysis suggested that the first dose provides protection from getting COVID-19, but the data did not allow for a “firm conclusion,” the FDA says. The Moderna vaccine is believed to be around 50% effective after just one dose.

After the required doses, how long until it takes effect and provides protection?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has demonstrated effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 illness in people two weeks after receiving the vaccine.

For the Moderna vaccine, this happens approximately a week after receiving the second dose.

How well do the vaccines work?

Once the second dose kicks in, the Moderna vaccine has been shown in studies to be about 95% effective. That’s on par with the vaccines for chickenpox and measles. Of the 32,000 people who received the Moderna vaccine in research trials, only one participant contracted a severe case of COVID-19.

Similarly, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death.

Because it took longer to develop, the J&J vaccine was tested in a massive study that spanned three continents in which variants were more prevalent. In the J&J trial, the vaccine group had zero hospitalizations and zero deaths (100 percent efficacy).

For severe disease, which includes people who were sick enough with COVID-19 to require medical intervention but recovered without hospitalization, the efficacy was about 85 percent across the board in Brazil, South Africa and the U.S.
Including mild and moderate disease, the overall efficacy was 66 percent but varied across the regions: 72 percent in the U.S., 64 percent in South Africa, and 61 percent in Brazil.

How long does the protection last?

Because the vaccines are new, this is not yet known for sure. Based on other viruses that are similar to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the COVID-19 vaccines that are shown to be highly effective might protect people for a few years. This is an educated guess based on expert opinion and known facts about the virus that causes COVID-19.

What about side effects?

People should expect to have some side effects, similar to what some people report after getting a flu vaccine, according to experts meeting recently with the CDC. These experts said to expect temporary side effects such as soreness in your arm where you got the shot, fatigue, body aches, and perhaps a fever.

As for serious side effects, it’s too soon to know about rare side effects. As millions of doses are distributed, if there are very rare side effects, they are expected to show up in a very short time frame.

Are eggs involved in the making of the COVID vaccines?

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are not made with eggs or egg products.

How can a safe vaccine be made so quickly?

Vaccine development typically takes many years, however, scientists had already begun research for coronavirus vaccines during previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses, such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). That earlier research provided a head start for rapid development of vaccines to protect against infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

After the FDA’s emergency authorization (EUA) is granted, are the vaccines still tracked?

Yes. The FDA expects the manufacturers to continue their clinical trials to find out more about how safe and effective they are, and pursue full FDA approval or licensure. The EUA, which is different from FDA approval, is based on the FDA’s evaluation of available evidence, assessing risks and benefits. It issues the EUA if the benefit-risk balance is favorable.

Do the COVID vaccines not only keep the person from getting sick, but also from spreading the virus if exposed?

That is not yet known. As more data and monitoring are done, experts will be able to find out if a vaccinated person, if exposed to the virus, can still spread it even if they don’t get the disease themselves.

Are the vaccines free?

Yes, for patients, but the health care providers will bill insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare, or tap federal funds for the uninsured.

Will it be possible to choose which vaccine you prefer?

In general, it does not matter, since the two vaccines available are extremely effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death. And even as more vaccines become authorized and available, you may have only one choice.

Should people who have already had COVID-19 be able to get the vaccine?

Yes. According to data reviewed by CDC, people appear to become susceptible to reinfection after >90 days after initial infection.

Does the COVID-19 Vaccine interact with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

No

After I get vaccinated, do I still have to wear a mask?

Yes. Even after vaccination increases, preventive behaviors will still be needed. The ability to reduce transmission will require not just high vaccine uptake, but ongoing social distancing and masks.