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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ
Last updated: October 25, 2021
COVID Booster Doses Now Approved
On October 21, the CDC approved booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC had already approved booster doses of Pfizer vaccine in September. They now also allow a mix-and-match approach, giving more flexibility. For example, recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may get a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster if they like, or they can continue with the same vaccine type they started with. People may also elect to receive a Moderna booster if they started with Pfizer-BioNTech, or vice versa.
Eligibility is as follows:
For those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, booster doses are recommended for anyone 18 and older who was vaccinated at least two months ago.
For those who got the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, booster shots are recommended at least six months after initial vaccination for anyone who is:
- 65 years and older
- Age 18+ and living in long-term care settings
- Age 18+ with underlying medical conditions
- Age 18+ and working or living in high-risk settings
COVID Booster FAQ
Will APLA be providing booster doses?
Where can I get a booster dose?
Many pharmacies and other facilities are offering vaccines. There are over 800 vaccine sites in Los Angeles County. By scheduling through MyTurn.CA.gov or Vaccines.gov you can find a convenient location.
Who is eligible for a booster dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine?
- People 65 years of age and older
- People who live in long term care settings
- People with certain underlying medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
- People 18 years of age and older who work or live in high-risk settings. Examples include people working in healthcare, education, or public transportation or people living in homeless shelters or correctional facilities.
- For further guidance, refer to the CDC or discuss with your healthcare provider.
Who is eligible for a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
People 18 and over who received their Johnson & Johnson vaccine two or more months ago.
Should I get a booster dose?
Individual decisions about booster doses are best addressed with your medical provider.
I don’t have insurance. How much dose a booster dose cost?
Now that mixing and matching is allowed, should I get a different vaccine for my booster dose?
Decisions about which type of booster dose to get are best discussed with your medical provider.
When can I get my booster dose?
For eligible people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, they can get their booster dose 6 months after they completed their initial vaccination. For people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they can get their booster 2 months after their initial vaccination.
What are the common side effects of a booster dose?
The same as the possible side effects of the initial vaccine: sore arm, mild body aches, fatigue, and sometimes low-grade fever. If you have concerns about side effects, please discuss this with your medical provider.
Are booster doses going to be required or mandated?
There is no plan at this time to mandate booster doses of vaccine.
COVID Vaccine FAQ
Who can get vaccinated currently by APLA Health?
Due to the significant decrease in COVID-19 vaccine demand and the potential for large amounts of vaccine supply waste, APLA Health is no longer providing 1st dose vaccinations, and is only providing 2nd doses to individuals who received a 1st dose from us.
Vaccination appointments are available by appointment and walk-in all over Los Angeles County. To find a vaccination site, please go to:
Click on step 2 for a number of options to find appointments.
If you need assistance finding or making an appointment, you can call the Los Angeles Department of Public Health Vaccine Call Center at 833-540-0473 daily from 8 am to 8:30 pm.
Debido a la disminución significativa en la demanda de la vacuna COVID-19 y al potencial de grandes cantidades de desperdicio de suministro de vacunas, APLA Health ya no proporciona la primera dosis de vacunación y solo proporciona la segunda dosis a las personas que recibieron una primera dosis de nosotros.
Las citas de vacunación están disponibles con cita previa y sin cita en todo el condado de Los Ángeles. Para encontrar un sitio de vacunación, visite:
Haga clic en el paso 2 para ver una serie de opciones para buscar citas.
Si necesita ayuda para encontrar o programar una cita, puede llamar al Centro de Llamadas sobre Vacunas del Departamento de Salud Pública de Los Ángeles al 833-540-0473 todos los días de 8 am a 8:30 pm.
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 and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines use 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 vaccines from Moderna (with 28 days between doses) and Pfizer-BioNTech (with 21 days between doses).
How will I know to get my second dose?
After receiving your first Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech 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.
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 December 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 and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, this happens approximately a week after receiving the second dose.
How well do the vaccines work?
Once the second dose kicks in, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been shown in studies to be about 95% and 94% effective respectively. 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% 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% across the board in Brazil, South Africa and the U.S.
Including mild and moderate disease, the overall efficacy was 66% but varied across the regions: 72% in the U.S., 64% in South Africa, and 61% 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 healthcare 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 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)?
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.