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LAST UPDATED: March 1, 2021

Need assistance with scheduling a vaccination appointment at one of our Public Health sites, or ARMC clinics, or have questions about a vaccine?

Residents of San Bernardino County may call (909) 387-3911 or email: coronavirus@DPH.sbcounty.gov

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VACCINATION

 

FAQs

The County of San Bernardino and Arrowhead Regional Medical Center are committed to implementing a comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination process based on federal, state and local guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the San Bernardino County COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force. The following are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that provide current information about the COVID-19 vaccinations and phased rollout to communities served by the County.

Vaccine testing process and current vaccines under development

There are three key phases leading up to limited use and full use approval for a vaccine. According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), they are as follows:

Phase 1 – Vaccines are administered by scientists to 20 to 100 healthy volunteers. Researchers answer questions related to how the drug works in the body, the side effects associated with increased dosage, and early information about how effective it is to determine and how best to administer the drug to limit risks and maximize possible benefits.

Phase 2 – Vaccines are administered by scientists to several hundred volunteers. Phase 2 studies provide researchers with additional safety data. Researchers use these data to refine research questions, develop research methods, and design new Phase 3 research protocols.

Phase 3 – Vaccines are administered by scientists to hundreds or thousands of volunteers. Phase 3 studies provide most of the safety data. In previous studies, it is possible that less-common side effects might have gone undetected. Because these studies are larger and longer in duration, the results are more likely to show long-term or rare side effects.

FDA licenses a vaccine only if it is successful in each of the three phases, is safe and effective, and benefits outweigh risks.

As of February 1, 2021, there are 67 vaccines in clinical trials on humans. Currently, there are 20 vaccine trials that have reached the final stages of testing, according to the New York Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker.

Timing of vaccine availability and phases of vaccine allocation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in the U.S. – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, Inc. Initially, doses are being administered to front-line essential workers and the most vulnerable. Supplies will increase over time, and all adults who chose to be vaccinated should be able to do so later in 2021.

The State of California will provide a COVID-19 vaccine to everyone who wants it at no cost. Vaccinations are being allocated in a phased approach as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which is meeting on a regular basis and making ongoing adjustments as scientific evidence is evaluated. Following are the latest recommendations by the California Department of Public health (CDPH):

Phase 1A (all tiers – vaccinating now): This phase has three tiers. It includes high-risk health care workers, skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, medical first responders (paramedics, EMTs), community health workers, primary, specialty and dental clinics, persons 65 years of age and older

Phase 1B (tier 1 – police, fire, education (teachers, support staff) and licensed childcare providers) – vaccinating now): This phase has two tiers. Per CDPH, if a county has maximized use of the vaccine to administer individuals in Phase 1A, they should move to Phase 1B, Tier 1 while continuing to offer vaccines to those in higher priority groups

Tier 1 – Emergency services (fire, police), education (teachers, support staff), licensed childcare providers, food and agriculture (farmworkers, grocery store workers, food supply chain).

Tier 2 – Transportation and logistics (public transit, postal service), industrial, residential, sheltering facilities and services, and commercial sectors, critical manufacturing, incarcerated individuals, homeless/unhoused.

Phase 1C: Individuals 50-64 years of age; individuals 16-49 with underlying medical conditions and/or disabilities, water and waste management, defense, energy, chemical and hazardous materials, communication and IT, financial services, government operations, community-based essential functions.

Phase 2: All people aged 16 years and older not in Phase 1, who are recommended for a vaccine.

Registrations and appointments are currently available to individuals in Phase 1A all tiers and Phase 1B Tier 1 – fire, police, education (teachers, support staff) and licensed childcare providers. The County of San Bernardino will provide public notification when it proceeds with vaccinations in other tiers and phases. To make an appointment at a county public health site, hospital, pharmacy or through a physician practice partner, click here.

Because COVID-19 is a new disease with new vaccines, you may have questions about what happens before, during, and after your appointment to get vaccinated. The CDC has compiled tips that will help you know what to expect when you get vaccinated, what information your provider will give you, and resources you can use to monitor your health after you are vaccinated.

There is no priority list to sign up for. The County of San Bernardino is following the phased approach that is being recommended by the California Department of Public health (CDPH). Click here to see the latest phased approach to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The State is providing prioritization and allocation guidance to local health jurisdictions and health care providers so that the vaccine can be equitably distributed and administered at the community level to everyone in California who wants it. San Bernardino County has been receiving shipments of vaccine doses as they become available.

There are three primary distribution methods of the vaccine: 1) Direct shipments to providers; 2) Department of Public Health and Office of Emergency Services distribution; and 3) Skilled nursing facilities/long term care facilities in partnership with CVS/Walgreens.

The County of San Bernardino’s Department of Public Health has an agreement with the State and the CDC to redistribute the vaccines to COVIDReadi-registered facilities that agree and attest to state rules. Vaccines are redistributed based on the phased approach outlined by the California Department of Public Health. Redistribution consists of storing the vaccines and transferring the chain of custody to approved facilities. Once custody is relinquished by the County, the facilities that received the vaccines assume responsibility to manage their vaccine inventory in accordance with CDPH guidelines.

The County of San Bernardino prepared a Standard Operating Guide to address and guide its response to the COVID-19 vaccination process, which includes a plan for inspections of vaccine shipping containers within five minutes of receipt as well as storage protocols. Important to note is that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultra-cold freezer refrigeration. The Moderna Inc. vaccine requires standard freezer refrigeration. The County and transport partners are prepared to handle these cold storage requirements.

The County actively engages the San Bernardino County Vaccination Task Force to ensure thorough vaccination planning and preparation is taking place throughout the vaccination process.

No. The CDC is responsible for distributing the vaccines and determines how many doses each state receives based on the size of the state.

More vaccines are expected to be approved by the FDA in 2021 that will increase the availability for more segments of the population. The County’s Vaccination Task Force is working diligently to ensure that there are no delays in procuring vaccinations for its residents.

Safety of the vaccine and administering of shots

The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health reviews information regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccine candidates and follow guidance provided by California’s Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

This workgroup consists of California scientists with expertise in immunization and public health that independently review the safety and efficacy of any vaccine that receives FDA approval.

These top health experts – guided by the principles of safety, equity and transparency – review and verify a vaccine’s safety before California makes a COVID-19 vaccine available.

COVID-19 vaccines will protect people from the virus that causes COVID-19 without having to get the illness. Different vaccines work in different ways, but they all help the immune system fight infections in the future.

It typically takes a few weeks after the last dose in a series to become fully protected. Sometimes vaccination can cause mild fever, cold-like symptoms or a sore arm from the shot, but these are not harmful.

All but one of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States need two shots to be effective, given approximately 21 to 28 days apart. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series consists of two doses:

•  Pfizer-BioNTech (30 µg, 0.3 ml each): 21 days apart

•  Moderna (100 mcg, 0.5 mL each) 28 days apart

Persons should not be scheduled to receive the second dose earlier than recommended (i.e., 3 weeks [Pfizer-BioNTech] or 1 month [Moderna]). However, second doses administered within a grace period of 4 days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid. Doses inadvertently administered earlier than the grace period should not be repeated.

The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series.  For more information, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/clinical-considerations.html#Administration

The County of San Bernardino is working in partnership with health providers in the county to administer the vaccinations as they become available.

Many county locations currently being used for COVID-19 testing will also eventually offer the COVID-19 vaccination when it is ready for the community. Additionally, a network of health providers in the county are administering vaccinations throughout the various allocation phases.

Currently, people may not have a choice of which vaccine they can take between Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Inc. as the availability of doses is very limited. By the time that the general public has an opportunity to get vaccinated later in2021, there could be a number of additional vaccines approved by the FDA. At this point, there is not enough data to determine if a particular vaccine candidate should be used by certain groups. The CDC will be monitoring the data closely to determine if recommendations need to change.

There is currently no requirement for people to get a COVID-19 vaccination. This is an individual’s choice to help protect themselves from contracting COVID-19 and helping stop the spread of the virus.

There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19. As more data is collected, this information will be updated to reflect the latest scientific findings.

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue practicing social distancing, wearing a mask covering your mouth and nose and washing hands often. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

It is important for individuals who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to continue to take all safety precautions such as social distancing, wearing a face mask and regularly washing hands as it takes about two weeks for your body to build up protection against COVID-19. Additionally, while the vaccines have demonstrated a 94-95% efficacy rate in preventing COVID-19 in individuals who are vaccinated, there is more research needed to determine if getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself. The CDC will provide additional information on this topic as it becomes available. Please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination frequently asked questions page regularly.

Health authorities need this information to help you stay safe and healthy. The CDC is implementing a new smartphone-based tool called V-SAFE to check-in on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When you receive your vaccine, you should also receive a V-SAFE information sheet telling you how to enroll in V-SAFE. If you enroll, you will receive regular text messages directing you to surveys where you can report any problems or adverse reactions you have after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

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