Vaccine | Altamed
UPDATE April 13, 2021:
AltaMed has suspended administering Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J) vaccine. We are using only Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. We administered some J&J vaccines through our pharmacies and some of our larger vaccine events from March 26 through April 12, 2021.
The CDC and FDA recommend holding administration of the J&J vaccine because six women ages 18-48 out of 6.8 million developed deep vein thrombosis, also known as a blood clot, within three weeks of receiving the vaccine. Blood clots were not reported during the clinical trials however clinical trials were of tens of thousands and not millions of people. For more information, see the Joint CDC and FDA Statement on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine.
Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis may include new severe headache, neck pain, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, chest pain or new leg pain. Providers can treat these symptoms. If you received a J&J vaccine and develop any symptoms within three weeks, please contact us on your MyAltaMed account or call 888-499-9303 to schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment with your provider.
What are the symptoms to look for if we had the J&J vaccine?
Symptoms may include severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination.
What if I am having symptoms after the J&J vaccine?
Call the AltaMed Patient Service Center at (888) 499-9303 to make a telehealth appointment to speak to your provider. Or, if you have a MyAltaMed account, login and schedule your appointment.
If I am scheduled for a J&J vaccine, do I keep my appointment?
Yes, please keep your appointment but you will receive either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine instead.
COVID-19 Vaccine General Information, Facts, and FAQs
The Vaccine is Safe and Effective
In order to keep you and your family safe from getting COVID-19, AltaMed recommends taking the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you. Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for many people, it can cause severe illness or death.
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. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has worked closely with the pharmaceutical companies to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective for protecting adults. Forty thousand volunteers tested the vaccine and had only mild symptoms, such as a fever. This is normal, and a sign your body is building immunity. To increase your protection, it is important to get both doses of the vaccine.
When You Can Get a Vaccine
The vaccine eligibility criteria continue to expand. To see if you are eligible, check your county’s website:
Make sure you meet the county guidelines for vaccination prior to scheduling a vaccine appointment. Based on the eligibility guideline, we recommend you bring supporting documents as appropriate.
You can also enroll in MyTurn, a service with the California Department of Public Health that will keep you informed of when you may be able to get a vaccine. You may be able to schedule an appointment through the county when it’s your turn. Sign up online at MyTurn.ca.gov or call (833) 422-4255.
Where You Can Get a Vaccine
In Orange County we are offering vaccine appointments to AltaMed patients and community members who meet the County eligibility requirements. In Los Angeles County we have a limited supply of vaccines and are prioritizing appointments for eligible AltaMed patients. If you meet the eligibility requirements, call the AltaMed Vaccine Hotline at (888) 909-5232 to make an appointment. AltaMed patients can schedule an appointment through MyAltaMed. If you do not have an account, sign up today.
Outside of AltaMed
Los Angeles County
Additional vaccine appointments are available for eligible residents through Orange County agencies. Visit othena.com to check if you are eligible and book an appointment.
After the Vaccine
The COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. However, you may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection.
Sign up for V-Safe, the CDC after vaccination health checker. Use your smartphone to let the CDC know about any side effects you have after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. You’ll also get a reminder if you need a second vaccine dose.
You still need a mask after your second shot!
- No vaccine is 100% effective. 1 in 20 people can still get COVID-19 after the vaccine.
- Vaccines do not work instantly. It takes about two weeks for your immune system to be protected.
- The vaccine will help prevent you from becoming sick, but will not stop you from carrying and spreading the virus to others.
- Masks will help protect you against new strains of coronavirus that maybe be more contagious.
Continue to practice physical distancing and frequent hand washing. Limit group gatherings, and restrict non-essential travel to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Stay home if you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19. Learn more about best practices and how to stay safe even after you receive your vaccine.
Share Your Story On Social Media
Share with your friends and family on social media why you got the COVID-19 vaccine and use the hashtag #oneshotatatime. If you post a picture of your vaccine card, make sure not to show any personal information like your birth date.
Hear why AltaMed doctors and staff are getting the COVID-19 vaccine
Facts and Frequently Asked Questions
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19
None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States uses the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity and learning how to fight the vaccine. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it is possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests
Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody-testing results.
FACT: People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated
Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible; people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long. We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.
Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
FACT: Getting vaccinated can help prevent getting sick with COVID-19
While many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others get severely ill and many even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. If you get sick, or are asymptomatic, meaning you have no symptoms, you can spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.
What was the COVID-19 vaccine approval process?
Prior to FDA approval, the COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in many thousands of patients first by conducting clinical trials. Clinical trials are closely monitored research programs conducted with patients to see if a new drug or medical treatment is effective. The trails were conducted according to strict standards set forth by the FDA in June 2020. The Food and Drug Administration (or FDA) provided an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to use the vaccines because the research showed the vaccines are highly effective in preventing COVID-19 in adults. The research findings in the COVID-19 vaccine trials were proven to have minimal side effects and be highly effective in preventing COVID-19 in adults.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Vaccines have been tested in more than 40,000 volunteers, having only mild symptoms, very similar to our flu vaccine. The FDA will continue to monitor closely any change in side effects or recommendations. At this moment, with the information that we have, the vaccines have been evaluated and can start protecting us and our community against COVID-19.
When will the COVID-19 vaccine become available?
Currently there is a limited supply available of the vaccines. AltaMed is working closely with state and local health officials to ensure our patients have access to the vaccines as soon as possible. We have a limited supply of vaccines available to our AltaMed patients who are over the age of 65. Please call the AltaMed Vaccine Hotline to learn more (888) 909-5232.
How many shots will I need for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Most COVID-19 vaccines available in the first phase require two shots. The first shot starts building protection. A second shot (known as booster) a few weeks later is needed to create the most protection the vaccine has to offer.
If I had COVID, can I still get the vaccine?
Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.
Can I get COVID-19 even after getting the vaccine?
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it's possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. Also, vaccines are safe and effective; the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines prevent above 90%.
Can people still pass the virus to other people even if they get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. Vaccinated people could still carry and spread the virus therefore should continue to wear masks, practice frequent hand washing, and socially distance until a majority of the population is vaccinated.
Is it safe to take both the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot?
Yes, it is recommended to get the flu shot as long as it is within CDC’s recommended timing before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC recommends not to get any additional vaccines (including the flu vaccine) until at least 14 days before the first COVID-19 vaccine shot or 14 days after the second COVID-19 vaccine.
Why would a vaccine be needed if we can do other things, like social distancing and wearing masks, to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading?
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. It is important to understand that even if we get the vaccine (COVID-19, influenza or others) we should still try to avoid exposure. This is key to diminishing the virus’ ability to live in us (and not getting us sick) and transfer it to someone else.
Do I need to wear a mask when getting the vaccine?
Yes. The CDC recommends that during the pandemic, people wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when in contact with others outside your household, when in health care facilities, and when receiving any vaccine, including a COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove a mask without assistance should not wear a mask.
Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received two doses of the vaccine?
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 using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. 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.
Are there other (non COVID-19) vaccines that can help prevent me from getting COVID-19?
There are currently no available non-COVID-19 vaccines that will prevent COVID-19. A flu vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. This can keep you from having a more severe illness. While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the winter, CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading during that time. That means that getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever.
How do I report if I have a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This national system collects these data to look for adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns of occurrence.
Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event. Reports to VAERS help CDC monitor the safety of vaccines. Safety is a top priority. Health care providers will be required to report certain adverse events following vaccination to VAERS. Health care providers also have to adhere to any revised safety reporting requirements according to FDA’s conditions of authorized use throughout the duration of any Emergency Use Authorization; these requirements would be posted on the FDA’s website.
CDC is also 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.
What if I have an underlying health condition – should I get the vaccine?
At this moment, there is no specific contraindication against getting the vaccine. Please refer to the CDC website.
Will COVID-19 vaccines provide long-term protection?
At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.
I have allergies. Can I get the new vaccine?
Visit the CDC website for information. Also, according to a Washington Post article dated 12.17.2020, people who have mild allergies to food, pets, environment or latex can get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Concern about allergies relate to reports from the United Kingdom of severe allergic reaction in two British health-care workers, both of whom were treated and recovered. Researchers do not know what substance in the vaccine formula triggered the severe allergic response. The CDC says people with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not get vaccinated. If you have a history of severe allergic reaction to another vaccine or injectable therapy, however, that should not necessarily preclude you from getting the shots. But the CDC advises that you consult your doctor beforehand.
Is there a risk of infertility with the COVID-19 vaccines?
There is no information at this moment that would correlate the risk of infertility and COVID-19. While the vaccine trial enrollment excluded pregnant individuals, several people got pregnant during the trial. We do not have any other vaccines either that make you infertile.
Will there be enough COVID-19 vaccines for everyone?
Companies are ramping up production. There is still no clear timeline to know when all of us will get a vaccine, but the systems and logistics are being created to serve our entire community as soon as is possible.
What is the new variant or strain of COVID-19?
Visit the CDC website to learn more about these new variants.
It is normal for a virus to mutate and change over time. Sometimes these new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and stay. New variants and strains of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.
So far, studies suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine is effective in protecting you from these new variants. Scientists and doctors continue to study the effects. Continue physical distancing, wearing masks, practicing hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantining when exposed to COVID-19, is essential to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 and protect public health.
Should I wear two masks from now on to prevent COVID-19?
The CDC recently recommended that people wear masks with two or more layers of breathable fabric that cover your mouth and nose. Please visit the CDC Guide to Masks webpage on how to choose and wear a mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Should I take pain relievers, like Ibuprofen, after receiving the vaccine?
Not everyone will experience side effects after the vaccine. If you have pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or analgesics.
COVID-19 Testing at AltaMed
Due to the high demand, we are prioritizing COVID-19 testing for current AltaMed patients. Current patients can call the AltaMed Patient Service Center at (888) 499-9303 and one of our representatives will assist you in scheduling an appointment with a provider or obtaining a COVID-19 testing referral.
We want to make sure all members of our community are taken care of and stay well. Whatever your situation is, we are here for you. If you would like to become an AltaMed patient or have questions about health insurance, call (877) 462-2582.
Testing in Los Angeles and Orange Counties is in high demand and this may affect how quickly we are able to share results. AltaMed is making every effort to shorten that turnaround time, but patients who have a MyAltaMed account will receive their results as soon as they are entered in our system.
If you or a loved one have been exposed to someone with COVID or have symptoms associated with COVID, please continue to follow quarantine and isolation guidelines. If symptoms get worse, schedule an appointment with a provider over the phone or at one of our facilities.
How to Care for COVID-19 Symptoms
The CDC currently associates the following symptoms with COVID-19:
- Shortness of breath
- Repeated shaking
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Protecting Others If You Are Diagnosed
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, let anyone who has been around you within the 48 hours before your illness know that they too need to quarantine themselves for 14 days after their last contact with you. Los Angeles County residents may also call our Patient Service Center to schedule a COVID-19 test.
Follow these guidelines until your symptoms go away and you have not taken or needed any medication for 72 hours and it has been at least 10 days since the start of your symptoms.
- General information about Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- Information for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Information for people using PrEP or living with HIV
- Information for sexually active people
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
- California Department of Public Health
Aside from your physical health, we understand that you may have other needs during this critical time. Check out the lists of resources available in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Categories include food, housing, unemployment and more.
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