COVID-19 Vaccine is Here
The vaccine is one of the most important ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The vaccine is available to everyone 6 months and older. You can get the vaccine at doctor’s offices, clinics, pharmacies, or community sites.
By getting the vaccine you are helping your health, the health of your loved ones, and your community. The vaccine and other steps, like masks and social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you), will slow the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Under 5 Years Old
The CDC recommends that children 6 months and older get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Getting the vaccine will help keep your child from getting seriously sick if they do get COVID‐19 and help keep them from spreading COVID‐19 to others. This vaccine will help protect your whole family and the community.
- The vaccine is safe based on clinical trials.
- Your child may have no side effects. Some people may have some mild side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. The most common side effect from the vaccine is a sore arm. Sometimes a person may have a headache or a fever but they should go away in a few days. Call your child’s Primary Care Provider if severe allergy reactions occur, which is rare.
- Getting the vaccine will make it easier for your child to play sports, go to festivals, and do other things that may require proof of the vaccine.
- A parent or a legal guardian will need to consent for the vaccine, either when making the appointment or at the time of the vaccination except under certain limited circumstances.
To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine in San Francisco, click here.
How to set up a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for your child:
- Call us! To set up an appointment, please call the SFHP COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 1(415) 615-4519 Monday-Friday from 8:30am – 5:00pm.
- Talk to your child’s Primary Care Provider (PCP) if you have questions. A PCP is the doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant who oversees your child’s health care. The PCP is listed on your child’s member ID card.
- Schools, drop-in clinics, and pharmacies have vaccines for children. Visit the San Francisco City and County website or call SFDPH COVID-19 vaccine call center at 1(628) 652-2700 to find a place to get the vaccine in San Francisco. They can also set up an appointment or help you get the vaccine at home.
COVID-19 Booster Shots
The updated bivalent booster shots are now open to people ages 5 and up!
As of October 12, 2022, the CDC and Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have made the Moderna bivalent booster open to all people 6 years old and up, and the Pfizer bivalent booster open to all people 5 years old and up.
Check here for more info on the updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster.
The bivalent booster protects you more against COVID-19. These updated booster shots are “bivalent” (two strains) which target the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 COVID-19 strains. The updated bivalent booster also targets the first COVID-19 strain. Visit SFDPH to stay up to date with COVID-19 info.
Get No-Cost Rides to your Vaccine Appointment with Muni, Paratransit, Uber, or Lyft
For more info on no-cost rides, please see SFDPH.
Can I get the updated (bivalent) COVID-19 booster?
Who can get an updated bivalent booster is based on:
• Your age
• When you were done with your primary vaccine, or your most recent monovalent (original) COVID-19 booster*
Go to the CDC website to find out when you can get your booster. This tool helps you know when or if you or your child can get 1 or more COVID-19 boosters.
*To get the bivalent booster, it must be at least 2 months since your last COVID-19 shot. If you have had COVID-19 lately, wait 3 months until your next COVID-19 shot (primary dose or updated booster). Count the months from when symptoms started. Or if you had no symptoms, when you first got a positive test.
Learn more at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
COVID-19 Vaccine – Frequently Asked Questions
Will a COVID-19 vaccine protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines work by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19.
Being protected from getting sick is important because even though many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness, have long-term health effects, or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you do not have an increased risk of having severe problems. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.
Is the vaccine free?
Yes. The vaccine is free of charge. No one can be denied a vaccine because they cannot pay.
Read more at the Department of Managed Health Care’s Know Your Health Care Rights.
I heard there are different COVID-19 vaccines. Which one will I get?
We do not have a way of knowing which vaccine you will get at the time of scheduling, but you can ask at your appointment. Three COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved for use in the United States to prevent COVID-19. Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (COVID-19 mRNA vaccines) are preferred. You may get Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in some situations.
More information about each vaccine can be found on the CDC website here.
Fully vaccinated means a person has received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines as listed below.
- Two doses for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 21 days apart.
- Two doses for the Moderna vaccine, 28 days apart.
- One dose for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Do I still have to take precautions after I get the vaccine?
Everyone ages 12 years and older should get a booster shot after they have completed their COVID-19 vaccine primary series. People ages 12 to 17 years old can only get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot. People ages 18 years and older should get a booster dose, and either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) are preferred.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people in the United States have gotten COVID-19 vaccines under the strongest safety monitoring in U.S. history. The CDC recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible. More information on vaccine safety can be found here.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine impact my day to day life?
After getting the vaccine, you may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. Also, you may have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Will I get an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?
Serious allergic reactions are very rare. You can learn about allergic reactions here.
When will I be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
You can learn when it will be your turn to get the vaccine here.
How much time does it take to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Scheduling the vaccine most often only takes a few minutes, and the appointment will take about half an hour. If you do not have health questions, it is good for you and your community to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is your turn.
If you do have health questions, please contact your primary care provider (PCP). Your PCP is the doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant who is in charge of your health care.
If you would like help finding the phone number of your primary care provider, please call SFHP customer service at 1(415) 547-7800.
You can also call a doctor at Teladoc® for free any time of the day or night. Learn more at teladoc.com/sfhp or 1(800) 835-2362.
How can I make a COVID vaccine appointment?
There are different ways to schedule vaccines. Here are a few:
- Call your primary care provider to find out if you can get the vaccine at your regular hospital or clinic. If not, you may be able to get a vaccine at another place in the same network.
- San Francisco has a phone number for COVID-19 vaccine appointments at community sites, like Moscone Center. The number is 1(628) 652-2700.
- Check the City and County of San Francisco’s website for vaccine sites with open appointments.
- CVS and Walgreens have appointments. You can schedule online or call them directly.
You can also sign up for updates about new appointments and places to get the vaccine from the state of California.
I know about a vaccine site close to me, but I can’t find it on the SF city website. Why?
The SF city website shows vaccine sites with open appointments. If there aren’t any appointments free, then that place won’t be listed on the website.
If you want to go to a specific place, it is good to check back often since supplies and appointment times are always changing.
What will happen during my COVID vaccine appointment?
The steps will be a little different based on where you get the vaccine. In general here is what you can expect:
- You will have to wear a well-fitting mask in a medical facility.
- You will likely need to fill out some paperwork before getting the vaccine. If you are going to a location that allows you to walk up without an appointment, they may ask for more paperwork.
- Bring proof that you are eligible for the vaccine in case you are asked. (A work badge, paystub, photo ID, W2, license or credential are examples of proof to show that you are eligible).
- You will likely be asked to stay for 15 minutes after you get the vaccine. This is so that staff can make sure you are feeling well.
Do I need to take a test before scheduling my COVID-19 vaccine?
No. If you feel healthy with no symptoms, and do not have a known COVID-19 exposure, there is no need to take a test.
Can I bring a family or household member to get the vaccine with me?
If your family or household member is also eligible and able to go to the same site, you can try to make appointments close to each other in order to go together.
Will I have to give any personal information to get the vaccine?
You will likely need to give your name, birthday, health plan ID number, and address to schedule the vaccine. If you do not know your health plan ID number, we can look it up for you.
Will I need to give my Social Security Number to schedule the vaccine?
You will not need to give your social security number to schedule the vaccine. The San Francisco Health Plan and your primary care provider already have the number, and the place where you get the vaccine will view it when they give you the vaccine.
What should I do if my second vaccine appointment gets cancelled?
Call the place where you got your first dose. It is best to get your second dose from the same place as your first dose. This is because they will know which vaccine you had and all the other information needed to give a second dose safely.
Should I get the vaccine if I just had COVID-19, if I am pregnant, or if I have other health questions?
If you have any questions about the vaccine and your health, please talk to your primary care provider (PCP). Your PCP is the doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant who is in charge of your health care.
If you would like help finding the phone number of your primary care provider, please call SFHP customer service at 1(415) 547-7800.
I just had COVID-19, should I get the vaccine?
Yes, you should get the vaccine even if you already had COVID-19. That is because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after having COVID-19. Even if you have already had COVID-19, it is possible, while rare, that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting the vaccine is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.
If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your primary care provider if you are not sure what treatments you received or if you have questions about getting the vaccine.
I was just exposed to COVID-19, should I wait to get the vaccine?
If you have been exposed, follow the CDC quarantine guidelines before getting the vaccine.
I am not feeling well, is it safe to get the vaccine?
No. People who have COVID-19 or who have symptoms should wait until they have recovered and have met the criteria for coming out of isolation. People who were exposed who don’t have symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. Talk to your primary care provider if you have any questions.
If I have an underlying health condition, or other health questions, should I get the vaccine?
If you have a health condition or any health-related questions about getting the vaccine, you can talk with your primary care provider.
If I am pregnant, can I get the vaccine?
Yes. If you are pregnant, you may choose to get the vaccine. There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes problems with pregnancy.
If you have questions about getting the vaccine, talking with your primary care provider might help you make an informed decision. Learn More
I am usually very healthy, do I need to get the vaccine?
Since COVID-19 is a new disease, it is a good idea to get the vaccine for you and your community.
Testing and Treatment
Test to Treat Sites
If you think you may have COVID-19, visit one of the new Test to Treat sites. They can test you for COVID-19. If you have a positive test, they can give you medicine if you are eligible.
Visit a site as soon as you start having symptoms. Treatment must be taken within the first 5 days of being sick or having a positive COVID-19 test.
See more info at Test to Treat.
Find a Test to Treat site with this map.
You can pick up 8 COVID-19 tests each month at your local pharmacy. Test kits are free. Bring your pharmacy insurance card and ask for COVID-19 test kits.
Many people are eligible for COVID-19 treatments. If you get COVID-19 and have certain health issues, you may be able to get treatment. Please call your provider as soon as you start having symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
COVID-19 treatments can be in the form of a pill, shot, or infusion. Paxlovid™ (nirmatrelvir with ritonavir) and Lagevrio™ (molnupiravir) are pills taken by mouth. Veklury® (remdesivir) is a treatment that is put into the vein (IV).
To get treatment, please call your healthcare provider. Or, find a Test to Treat site as soon as you have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
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