Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19

Questions About the Vaccine 

The U.S Food and Drug administration, known as the FDA, approved the use of three (3) vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). These vaccines are all proven to be safe. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people 12 years old and older, and the Moderna and Janssen vaccines have been approved for people 18 years old and older.  

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are two-dose vaccines, which means you need to get two shots for full protection. For the Pfizer vaccine, you should get them at about 21 days apart, and about 28 days apart for the Moderna vaccine. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine is a single-dose vaccine so you only need 1 shot. 

Vaccines lowers the chances of getting a disease by working with your body’s natural defenses to build protection. When you get a vaccine, your immune (defense) system:

  • Recognizes the germ, like the virus or bacteria.
  • Produces antibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced naturally by your body to fight the disease.
  • Remembers the disease and how to fight it. If you are then exposed to the germ in the future, your immune (defense) system can quickly destroy it before you get sick.

The COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same safety standards as all vaccines. These shots were tested in tens of thousands of adults from different backgrounds, which include older adults and communities of color. In the studies, the COVID-19 vaccine has shown to help prevent getting you sick from COVID-19.

Learn how the federal government is working to make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

To make sure  the COVID-19 vaccine meets safety requirements, California made a Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The workgroup gives recommendations to leaders in California and gives confidence to the public that the vaccine is safe.

For more information about the vaccine, please visit the LA County Department of Public Health.

No, you cannot get the virus from getting the shot. None of the COVID-19 vaccines use a live or active form of the COVID-19 virus. For this reason, the vaccine cannot give you the Coronavirus disease.

You might feel some side effects for a while after getting the vaccine. The side effects are usually mild, and you do not need to get treatment or change your day to day activities. The feelings or side effects are signs that your body is working to protect you from the disease.

Trusted information shows that the vaccines work and are very effective at preventing you from getting sick from the COVID-19 disease and preventing you from needing to go the hospital. This protection takes about 14 days after you finish getting the vaccine shot or shots. Some of our vaccines require 2 shots, while others only require one shot. If you take the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, the one shot will give you full protection. Please know that this is early information and we do not know how long the protection will last. We also don’t know if a person is still able to carry and spread the COVID-19 infection after getting the vaccine. 

Common Side Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccine are:

  • Pain, swelling, or redness around the area where you got the shot
  • Fever or chills
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pains
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swollen lymph nodes

There is a small chance that the COVID-19 vaccine could give you a severe (bad) allergic reaction. A bad allergic reaction could happen a few minutes to one hour after getting a shot of the COVID-19 vaccines. Signs of a bad allergic reaction can be:

  • A hard time breathing or wheezing
  • Swelling of the face and/or throat
  • A fast heart beat
  • A bad rash all over the body
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Felling weak or fainting

If you feel any of these signs, call 9-1-1 or go to the closest hospital.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being offered do use the genetic material called mRNA, which stands for “messenger RNA” to fight the virus but it does not do anything to your genes. Instead, the genetic material is used to teach the cells in your body to recognize the outside part of the virus that causes COVID-19. That way, if you get the virus, your body will stop it from making you sick. The COVID-19 vaccine does not change your genes which are made of DNA. mRNA is not the same as DNA, and it cannot combine with your DNA to change your genetic code.

The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine does not use mRNA. Instead this vaccine uses a virus that cannot infect humans that has a material made to look like part of the COVID-19 virus to teach your body to recognize and fight the COVID-19 virus.

The FDA suggests that a person should not get the vaccine if they have a history of severe allergies to vaccines.

Yes. It is safe for people with hepatitis C and HIV to get the COVID-19 vaccine. There are very few medical reasons not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please talk with your provider if you have specific questions about your condition or diseases.

Yes. You and your healthcare worker will both need to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth when getting any shots, including a COVID-19 vaccine.

Studies show that the protection against the virus may get weaker over time especially in those 65 and older. The FDA and CDC recently recommended that some people should get a booster shot. A booster shot strengthens the level of protection against the virus.

People who got the Janssen vaccine should get a booster shot 2 or more months after their shot. Certain people who got Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can get a booster shot 6 months after their second shot.

You should get a booster shot if you are:

  • 65 years or older, or
  • 18 years or older and live in a long-term care facility, or
  • 50-64 years old and have underlying medical conditions

You may get a booster shot if you are:

  • 18-49 years old and have underlying medical conditions
  • 18-49 years old and work in a setting that puts you at higher risk for getting and spreading COVID-19
  • 18 years or older with a higher risk for social inequities (factors that affect health and quality of life)

CDC’s recommendation allows for mixing and matching booster vaccines. This means you can get any of the three vaccines as a booster. For example, even if you got the Janssen vaccine the first time, you may get a Janssen, Pfizer, or Moderna shot as your booster. Same goes for Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – you can get a Janssen, Pfizer, or Moderna booster shot.

For more information about boosters, visit the CDPH website.

Getting the Vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine is very safe. It will prevent you from getting sick with COVID-19. All Health Services patients will receive the vaccine for free.

All patients who are 5 years or older can get the COVID-19 vaccine now. 

We are giving the Pfizer, Moderna the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines.

Online:  To make an appointment online use the MyWellness Patient Portal by clicking here. You will find  more information on how to schedule your COVID vaccine and get your vaccination record using the portal. If you don’t have an account, click here, to make one.

Phone:  Call your clinic or 844-804-0055, press Option 2.

Learn more about the COVID vaccinehere.

Health Services has a COVID-19 Nurse Advice Call Line: 844-804-0055. It’s available from 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M., 7 days per week. 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have two shots. For the Pfizer vaccine, you should get them at about 21 days apart and for the Moderna at about 28 days apart. The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) is only 1 shot.

It is very important to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine if you receive the Pfizer or Moderna shot. Your body will not build the protection it needs if you do not get the second dose. Make sure you get your second dose at the place where you got your first dose. Be sure to bring your vaccination card with you. If you have questions about your second dose, call your clinic.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and LA County Department of Public Health recommend for people with a weak immune system to receive an extra shot 28 days after getting their second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

This includes people who have:

  • Been getting regular cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Had an organ transplant and are taking medicine to lower the natural defense of their immune system
  • Had a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to lower the natural defense of their immune system
  • Moderate or severe immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Regular treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may lower their immune system natural defense
Starting on 8/24 you may be able to get a 3rd shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. To find out if this is for you:
  • Call your clinic or
  • Send a message to your provider through the My Wellness Patient Portal.

This 3rd shot is to improve people’s immune system response to their 2nd dose series. This is not the same as a booster shot, which is given to people when the immune response to a vaccine series has decreased over time.

Studies show that the protection against the virus may get weaker over time especially in those 65 and older. The FDA and CDC recently recommended that some people should get a booster shot. A booster shot strengthens the level of protection against the virus.

People who got the Janssen vaccine should get a booster shot 2 or more months after their shot. Certain people who got Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can get a booster shot 6 months after their second shot.

You should get a booster shot if you are:

  • 65 years or older, or
  • 18 years or older and live in a long-term care facility, or
  • 50-64 years old and have underlying medical conditions

You may get a booster shot if you are:

  • 18-49 years old and have underlying medical conditions
  • 18-49 years old and work in a setting that puts you at higher risk for getting and spreading COVID-19
  • 18 years or older with a higher risk for social inequities (factors that affect health and quality of life)

CDC’s recommendation allows for mixing and matching booster vaccines. This means you can get any of the three vaccines as a booster. For example, even if you got the Janssen vaccine the first time, you may get a Janssen, Pfizer, or Moderna shot as your booster. Same goes for Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – you can get a Janssen, Pfizer, or Moderna booster shot.

For more information about boosters, visit the CDPH website.

No.  In fact, you could get really sick with COVID-19 if you have a health issue like diabetes or high blood pressure. The best way to protect your health is to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe. You may feel side effects like body aches, tiredness or low fever. These are all signs that the vaccine is working.  

Yes. It is safe to get COVID-19 vaccine if you plan to get pregnant someday.Scientists study every vaccine carefully for side effects that happen right away and for many years after that. All the scientific research today shows that the vaccine is safe for women to take even if they plan to have a baby in the future.  

It is possible to get COVID-19 more than once, just like you can get the flu twice in one year. We also don’t know how long you are protected after you have the virus. You should still get the vaccine even if you had COVID-19.  

Due to the increased COVID-19 transmission related to the delta variant, updates on masking guidelines have been updated. Please visit the Department of Public Health Masking Recommendations for the latest guidelines.

Please note that masks will still be required for all our visitors and patients at our hospitals and clinics.

Yes. If lately you had a positive test or you were around someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you may benefit from monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are a treatment that imitates how your body naturally fights infections like viruses. The treatment lowers the chance of serious disease from COVID-19 and can prevent COVID-19 in people who had the virus before. Monoclonal antibodies are NOT a substitute for COVID-19 vaccination. Please get your vaccine!

To learn more, send an email to MLKCOVIDMAB@dhs.lacounty.gov. Please include your full name, date of birth, and the best phone number to call you.

You will get a white CDC vaccination card as proof after getting your COVID-19 vaccine at a DHS clinic. Three other ways you can get proof of your vaccine are:

  • Log in to MyWellness patient portal to view a copy of your vaccination record. Click here for more information.
  • Request a digital record through the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record (ca.gov)  and through LA County’s partner – Healthvana
  • Call your clinic to request a printout of your vaccine record.

Yes. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same time. You do not need to wait 14 days between vaccinations anymore. Studies found that the immune response, which is the way our bodies build protection is about the same. The side effects are also about the same when you get one or more vaccines.

Learn more about the timing of other vaccines.

Now, CDC recommends for people with a weak immune system (or moderately to severely immunocompromised) to get an extra shot. This includes people who:

  • Are getting regular cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Had an organ transplant and are taking medicine to lower the natural defense of their immune system
  • Had a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to -lower the natural defense of their immune system
  • Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Have advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Are getting regular treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other medicines that may lower their immune system natural defense

Talk to your healthcare provider about your medical condition and whether getting an extra shot is right for you.

An extra shot is for people with a weak immune system. People who may not be able to build enough (or any) protection after getting vaccinated. An extra shot helps to make sure people with weak immune systems build the same amount of protection as other people.

A booster shot is for someone who built enough protection after getting vaccinated, but the protection got weaker over time (this is called waning immunity).

Everyone who received a single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine may get a booster shot. This includes people with moderately or severely weakened immune systems. The booster dose may be any of the 3 COVID-19 vaccines (J&J, Pfizer, Moderna).

A Johnson & Johnson booster dose is recommended if you:

  • Received your first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 2 months ago, and
  • Are 18 or older

Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the risks and benefits of a booster shot.

No, the vaccines are working, but public health experts are starting to see weakened protection against mild and moderate disease with the Delta variant. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning for a booster shot so vaccinated people can keep the same level of protection in the future.

Studies show that the protection against the virus may get weaker over time especially in those 65 and older. The FDA and CDC recently recommended that some people should get a booster shot. A booster shot strengthens the level of protection against the virus.

People who got the Janssen vaccine should get a booster shot 2 or more months after their shot. Certain people who got Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can get a booster shot 6 months after their second shot.

You should get a booster shot if you are:

    • 65 years or older, or
    • 18 years or older and live in a long-term care facility, or
    • 50-64 years old and have underlying medical conditions

You may get a booster shot if you are:

    • 18-49 years old and have underlying medical conditions
    • 18-49 years old and work in a setting that puts you at higher risk for getting and spreading COVID-19
    • 18 years or older with a higher risk for social inequities (factors that affect health and quality of life)

CDC’s recommendation allows for mixing and matching booster vaccines. This means you can get any of the three vaccines as a booster. For example, even if you got the Janssen vaccine the first time, you may get a Janssen, Pfizer, or Moderna shot as your booster. Same goes for Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – you can get a Janssen, Pfizer, or Moderna booster shot.

For more information about boosters, visit the CDPH website.

So far, reactions reported after booster doses have been like that of the primary series (the 1st and 2nd doses).

No. You can self-attest (self-report) if you are eligible. When you go to the location, take your CDC white card or have your digital vaccination record. If you go to a vaccination sire run by Public Health and you don’t have your vaccination verification you will be asked to sign self-attestation form.

At this time, a person is considered fully vaccinated when they have completed their original vaccine series. Booster doses are not required to be considered fully vaccinated but are encouraged for those that are eligible to ensure significant protection from COVID-19 and its variants.

Booster doses went through the same thorough scientific review process as the initial vaccine series, with trial data from all over the world being reviewed and considered when making a recommendation. The vaccines, including booster doses, are proven safe.

The QR code on your digital vaccine record does not automatically update. If you receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll have to get a new QR code through the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record portal.

We recommend waiting 14 days for your new dose to show up in the California Immunization Registry.

No, only one booster dose is recommended at this time. Eligible Californians should receive a booster at least six months after the second dose of their Moderna or Pfizer vaccine series or at least two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids and Adolescents

Yes. Children ages 5 and up can be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. Doses (amount) of Pfizer vaccine for children age 5-11 is smaller than the adult and teen vaccine doses. The amount of time between the 2 doses (shots) is the same: for children, teens, and adults. That means that the two doses are given 21 days apart.

For more information, visit the CDC website.

No, everything is the same: adolescents need two shots of the Pfizer vaccine 21 days apart for full vaccination, just like adults. Research shows that the same dosing schedule works well in preventing adolescents from getting sick with COVID-19 and causes few side effects.

According to the FDA, none of the 1,100 children who got the Pfizer vaccine during the vaccine clinical trial, got COVID-19. 16 out of 1,100 children who didn’t get the vaccine tested positive for COVID-19. The study also found that vaccinated adolescents had high levels of antibodies in their blood — a sign their bodies had developed strong protection against the virus.

The clinical study found that many in this age group who got the vaccine had similar side effects as young adults who got the vaccine. Please see “What are the side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?”

Children and adolescents can get sick from the coronavirus and can infect others. Although their cases tend to be less, some children have developed serious complications. During the pandemic, COVID-19 has been one of the leading causes of death among children.

Vaccines can prevent infectious  diseases (diseases that are spread easily) that once killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. Without vaccines, your child is at risk for getting very sick. They can suffer pain, disability, and even death from diseases like measles and whooping cough. The main risks of getting vaccines are side effects, which are almost always mild, such as redness and swelling in the area where they got the shot and go away within a few days. Serious side effects after vaccination, such as a severe (very bad) allergic reaction, are very rare.  Our doctors and clinic staff know what to do if an allergic reaction happens. The benefits of getting a vaccine to prevent disease are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children. The only times this may not be true is if a child has a serious chronic medical condition, like cancer or a disease that weakens the immune system or has had a severe allergic reaction to the first vaccine dose.

Everyone 5 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.

A parent, legal guardian or responsible adult must call to make the appointment, but does not need to be present at the time a vaccine is given. Teenagers aged 16 and 17 can bring this consent form signed by a parent or guardian when they come to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s still better if a parent or guardian can accompany their teens, but the consent form allows flexibility for working parents.

A parent, legal guardian, or responsible adult must be with 5 through 15-year-olds. If a responsible adult is bringing the child, they must have a signed consent form from the parent or legal guardian. The consent needs to include the responsible adult’s name.

Pregnancy and COVID-19

Yes. There are no reports that say there is a high chance for pregnancy loss, growth problems, or birth defects. As of July 2021, more than 139,000 pregnant people have been vaccinated without pregnancy or fetal problems. The CDC and pregnancy experts recommend for pregnant and breastfeeding people to be vaccinated against COVID-19. For more information please see the CDC website.

Yes. The CDC recommends vaccination for all people aged 5 years and older. This includes people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.

Pregnant people are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. In addition, pregnant people who have COVID-19 are more likely to get complications, such as preterm birth. There is no evidence the COVID-19 vaccines cause any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. There is also no evidence that side effects of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause female or male fertility problems. The vaccines do not change a person’s DNA and there is no evidence they affect puberty or teen development.

For more information, see the CDC webpage COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Would Like to Have a Baby.

About 1 to 3 out of 1,000 pregnant women with COVID-19 will develop severe disease. Compared with those who aren’t pregnant, pregnant people infected by the COVID-19 virus:

  • Are 3 times more likely to need ICU care
  • Are 2 to 3 times more likely to need advanced life support and a breathing tube
  • Have a small increased risk of dying due to COVID-19

They may also be at increased risk of stillbirth and preterm birth.

Early data from three safety monitoring systems did not find any safety concerns for pregnant people who got an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine late in pregnancy or for their babies.

Scientists have not found an increased risk for miscarriage among people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine just before and during early pregnancy (before 20 weeks of pregnancy).

Pregnancies are still being monitored. CDC will keep following people who were vaccinated during all trimesters of pregnancy to better understand the vaccine’s effects on pregnancy and babies.

If you are pregnant and have received a COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to enroll in v-safeV-safe is CDC’s smartphone-based tool. This program uses text messaging and web surveys to give you personalized health check-ins after getting vaccinated. A v-safe pregnancy registry has been created to gather information on the health of pregnant people who got a COVID-19 vaccine. If people enrolled in v-safe report that they were pregnant at the time of vaccination or after vaccination, the registry staff* might contact them to learn more. Participation in v-safe is not required and you may opt out at any time.

COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby. In fact, vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. More data are needed to see what level of protection these antibodies may provide to the baby.

General Information about COVID-19 

The new coronavirus is a type of virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19). COVID-19 is an infection of the airways and lungs.

The virus is spread from person to person through tiny droplets made when an infected person nearby coughs or sneezes. You can also get it by touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

Symptoms can feel like those from the common cold or flu. They can be mild to
severe. Some people may not have any symptoms and others may have 1 or more of
the below symptoms:
• Cough
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Fever
• Chills, with or without repeated shaking
• Muscle pain
• Headache
• Sore throat
• New loss of taste or smell

This list does not include all possible symptoms. Most individuals can get better with
rest and time, others may need medical care.

Most people with symptoms get them between 2 and 14 days after contact with a sick person. Most will simply get better on their own. But some people may have to be hospitalized. The elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are at highest risk.

  • There is no need to see a doctor if you have mild symptoms.
  • Call your doctor if you have a fever or cough AND are elderly, pregnant, have a weakened immune system or other major medical problems.
  • If you have trouble breathing or having a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Department.

Yes. If you are having a medical emergency, emergency rooms will care for you. To help you and our workers, emergency room staff will screen you for COVID-19 like symptoms and decide what treatment you need.

  • Stay at least six feet away from other people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer for 20 seconds.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze.  If able, wear a face covering when you go out or if you are around people who do not live with you.  Even with a face covering, it is important to stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

Resting, drinking fluids and taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) may make you feel better. Most patients will simply get better on their own.

For patients who are hospitalized due to trouble breathing, there are some new treatments which can be given to treat COVID-19.

The racist medical experiments which are part of our country’s history were wrong. This sad truth of our past is something that we must never forget. At the same time, black, Latinx and Indigenous Americans are getting sick and dying from COVID-19 at much higher rates than white people. We encourage all people, especially those of color, to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Testing

The test for COVID-19 is free. Call your clinic or the COVID-19 Nurse Advice Line at 844-804-0055 for medical advice.  To schedule an appointment at a county test site, go to covid19.lacounty.gov/testing. 

Call the COVID-19 Nurse Advice Line at 844-804-0055 for medical advice.

You should get a test if you:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Were asked by LA County Department of Public Health to get a test.
  • Were in “close contact” with someone who has COVID-19 in the past two weeks.
  • Work or live in places such as skilled nursing facilities, group homes, residential care facilities, correctional facilities or homeless shelters.
  • Are a person experiencing homelessness.
  • Are an essential worker with frequent contacts with the public in one of these areas: health care, emergency, food and grocery services, factory workers in food and retail, public transportation, and education.
  • Don’t have symptoms but think you may be infected because you were exposed to people who were sick, were around many people who were not wearing face coverings and/or were not keeping a safe distance in the past 2 weeks.

The test for COVID-19 is free. To schedule an appointment at a county test site, go to covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

For more information about who should be tested call your doctor or go to https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing-faq/.

The vaccine is free to everyone, including our patients.