East Bay Getting to Zero

What’s up with COVID vaccines?

Updated October 27, 2021

Everyone ages 12 and over can get a free COVID-19 vaccine, even if you don’t have insurance or immigration papers.

The best way to protect yourself and our community against serious illness from the highly contagious delta variant is to get vaccinated and wear a mask. Vaccines remain highly effective against severe disease by the delta variant. Being fully vaccinated reduces the risk of infection by 5x and reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 10-29x.

Appointments and walk-ups are available the same day at many sites for all three authorized vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson), including for the Pfizer vaccine for 12-17 year olds. Please see below or click for more information on third doses for people with immunocompromising conditions and boosters.

Get a free vaccine today at MyTurn.ca.gov, county sites, local pharmacies or your medical provider!

Some key vaccine updates:

  • Vaccines are recommended for all people ages 12 and over, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, wanting to get pregnant now or in the future.
  • The FDA granted full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 16+.
  • You are considered fully vaccinated 2 or more weeks after two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the J&J vaccine.
  • Third Pfizer or Moderna vaccine doses are recommended for people with immunocompromising conditions.
  • Johnson and Johnson (J&J) booster doses are recommended for all people who received a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine who are at least 2 months out from their first dose.
  • Moderna and Pfizer boosters for additional protection are available for people who received two vaccine doses 6 or more months ago who are ages 65 and over, and ages 18-64 with underlying conditionss or social inequities, living in or working in settings with high-risk exposures, such as frontline health care workers, first responders and teachers.
  • Eligible people may also use the “mix and match” approach and choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose.
  • Please check local pharmacies or medical provider since not all locations offer boosters.
  • The FDA advisory panel recommended the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5-11 on October 26. Authorization for use in California is expected around November 2-3. Appointments for kids ages 5-11 at some pediatric sites are starting November 6.
  • Need proof of vaccination? Visit the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record site to request your digital vaccination card.

How do we get a COVID vaccine?

For people under 18, there are several ways to provide consent (click on the infographic for more details):

  • Online registration: parent/guardian checks consent box
  • Drop-in/walk-up:
    • Parent/guardian comes and gives consent in-person
    • Parent/guardian gives consent on phone or video
    • Youth brings in paper form signed by parent/guardian. To download the Alameda County consent form, click for: English, Spanish.

Vaccine phone lines:

If you need help with transportation or are home-bound:

Community Health Centers:

Vaccines through pharmacies:

Vaccines through community pop-ups:

Vaccines through county vaccination sites:

Vaccines are now readily available with plentiful supply with choices for the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines.

Need proof of vaccination?

  • Visit the CA Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record site to request your digital vaccination card. You’ll need the phone number or email address that you used to get your vaccine.
  • Download the Alameda County Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
  • If you were vaccinated at an Alameda County supported site, you can visit any currently open location for assistance.
  • If you were vaccinated elsewhere, contact that provider for a replacement.

Do you need to verify digital vaccine records at your workplace or venue? Download the SMART Health Care Verifier app to your Android phone or iPhone to scan the secure QR codes used in digital vaccine cards in California and across the globe.

What vaccines are currently available?

We have three authorized vaccines available: the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines and the Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) one-dose vaccine. All three authorized vaccines are highly protective against severe disease, hospitalization and death.

  • See how the authorized vaccines work: download PDF infographics from the CDC –

Vaccines for ages 12-17: Currently only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in people ages 12-17. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved in people ages 18 and over. Moderna has announced that their vaccine is 100% effective for 12-17 year olds in a clinical trial that enrolled 3,732 people ages 12 to 17. Moderna has submitted data to the FDA for approval. 

People living with HIV and COVID-19 vaccines

All people living with HIV (PLWH) are recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and people with advanced or untreated HIV are recommended to get third doses of mRNA vaccines. The authorized vaccines are safe for people living with HIV regardless of CD4 count.

A new WHO study of over 15,000 global cases of COVID-19 in people living with HIV (PLWH) presented at IAS in July 2021 found that unvaccinated PLWH were 13% more likely to be hospitalized and 30% more likely to die after being hospitalized, independent of age, gender, comorbidities. Among PLWH, having diabetes, high blood pressure, being male or over 75 years old was each associated with an increased risk of death. CD4, viral load and ART status was not available in this cohort. Most people in this cohort were from the African region, and of those, most were from South Africa.

A US study of 8,270 PLWH with COVID-19 found that unvaccinated PLWH in the US who went to the ED with COVID symptoms had an increased risk of hospitalization requiring ventilation by 43% and increased risk of death by 20%, independent of sociodemographic factors and comorbidities. Outcomes were 4-7x worse for people with CD4 <350 and with higher viral loads. Another study (under review) of the ~13,000 PLWH in the CNICs cohort showed that COVID-19 severity was worse with CD4 <350 and history of CD4 <200.

Earlier data also showed that people living with HIV and CD4 counts less than 200 have greater risk for hospitalizations and death from COVID-19.

UK data shows that getting 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective for people with health conditions, including HIV. Protection after one dose in a 2-dose regimen was not as protective compared to people without health conditions.  The July 2021 outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts included 30 PLWH who were fully vaccinated, all virally suppressed, none were hospitalized. Two small lab-based studies showed that antibody, T- and B-cell responses were similar between PLWH and people without HIV, but most study participants had CD4>500 and suppressed viral loads.

The COVID pandemic has also disrupted care, attention and funding for HIV and share common disparities among communities of color, requiring underlying structural change.

These studies underscore the importance of prioritizing PLWH for outreach and to complete all vaccination doses.

The CDC recommends a third mRNA vaccine dose for people with “Advanced or untreated HIV infection,” which was authorized by the FDA on August 12, 2021. This is because people with advanced immunocompromise from HIV don’t respond as well to the first 2 doses as other people.

  • Published guidance: the CDC, CDPH and HIVMA (for PLWH)
  • It’s best to stay with the same mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for the third dose simply because we have more data on that, but if the same one is not readily available, it’s OK to give a third dose with the other mRNA vaccine.
  • The CDC has clarified that “advanced HIV” means:
    • CD4 cell counts less than 200/mm3
    • A history of an AIDS-defining illness without immune reconstitution
    • Clinical manifestations of symptomatic HIV infection
  • People who got the J&J vaccine have not gotten authorization for additional doses yet, but hopefully will on Oct 15.

What about booster doses for people living with HIV?

All people living with HIV ages 50+ are recommended to get a booster with a Pfizer, Moderna or J&J dose if they haven’t already received a third dose, and all people living HIV ages 18-49 may get a booster if they wish to.

Based on our best available data, we know that people living with HIV with CD4 <350 and higher viral loads are at higher risk for hospitalization and death, so we may want to prioritize outreach and third doses or boosters for this group, though please keep outreaching to people living HIV and others not yet vaccinated!

What the data shows us when we determine whom to prioritize outreach for third doses and boosters:

  • Untreated HIV
    • Highest priority: Any person living with HIV not on ART. (Please offer ART again too!)
    • People with viral loads >1,000. Detectable viral loads >50 who were also associated with higher hospitalization rates even when CD4 was >500 (VL of 50-1,000 had 1.8x increased odds and VL >1,000 had 3.5x increased odds).
  • People on treatment with greater risk for severe COVID-19
    • Highest priority: CD4 counts of <200
      • People with CD4 <350 were associated with 7.6x increased odds of death, 5.4x increased odds of requiring ventilation and 4.4x increased odds of hospitalization.
      • CD4 of 350-500 had 2.9x increased odds of hospitalization compared to CD4 >500.
    • Highest priority: People living with HIV and other immunocompromising conditions, especially people with transplants, getting cancer treatment or on high dose steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs.
    • People with a history of AIDS (CD4<200 or opportunistic illness) and long-term survivors (especially those over 75, have diabetes, hypertension or other cardiovascular disease).

Should we check for immunity after vaccination? The FDA does not currently recommend checking for SARS-Cov2 antibodies after COVID-19 vaccination since current antibody tests have not been evaluated to assess level of protection from vaccination. If antibodies are checked anyway, be sure the proper type is ordered:

Click here to download recommendations for PLWH during the summer 2021 delta surge from Getting to Zero San Francisco.

Resources for PLWH and COVID-19 vaccines: UNAIDS infosheet on COVID-19 vaccines and HIV, Clinical FAQs with Dr. Paul Sax at Harvard and The New England Journal of Medicine, Clinical FAQs for people living with HIV from HIVMA (PDF), Guidance for talking with patients and FAQs for PLWH from Alameda Health Systems (PDF).

What you can do when you’re fully vaccinated (2 weeks after completing doses)

Our updated infographics below are based on the updated Bay Area guidance, California guidance and CDC guidance.

Check out this COVID risk calculator to estimate the risk level for your situation.

CDC travel guidance for fully vaccinated people:

CDC guidance for exposures to COVID-19 for fully vaccinated people:

  • The good news is that fully vaccinated people are very well protected against serious COVID-19 and infection risk is lower.
  • Do you work in a healthcare setting? Let your supervisor know and follow workplace guidelines.
  • Are you experiencing any symptoms?
    • If you don’t have any symptoms and are not in a healthcare setting or congregate living situation, you should get tested and may not need to quarantine.
      • Get tested 3-5 days following exposure and wear a mask. You should isolate if you test positive.
      • Fully vaccinated people who live in a household with someone who is immunosuppressed, at increased risk of severe disease, or unvaccinated could also consider masking at home for 14 days following a known exposure or until you receive a negative test result.
      • Watch for symptoms for 14 days after your last exposure. 
    • If you have symptoms or develop them, self-isolate and let your health care provider know about your symptoms, that you’re vaccinated and get tested (ideally PCR and sequencing to evaluate for variants with report to public health).
  • If you live in a congregate setting (e.g., correctional and detention facilities, group homes) you should quarantine for 14 days and get tested 3-5 days after exposure to reduce the risk of transmission to others in these crowded settings.
  • If you work in a congregate setting or crowded workplace (e.g., meat and poultry processing and manufacturing plants), you do not need to quarantine, but you should wear a mask and get tested 3-5 days after exposure.

When fully vaccinated people should get tested for COVID-19:

  • When experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • When you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Click for more from the CDC: general guidance, travel guidance and the scientific brief. Click here for our harm reduction guidance and graphics

Help the vaccine roll-out effort!

Vaccine Resources

Help educate our community and combat vaccine misinformation! There are three safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines widely available and authorized for use in the US: the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Resources for recipients and caregivers in multiple languages:

Resources for health care providers and organizations:

County public health department vaccine updates:

COVID-19 vaccine data trackers:

Vaccine questions and feedback:

Community spotlights

Students at Oakland Unified high schools share their reasons for getting vaccinated:

Vincent Williams, Oakland LGBTQ Center, says: “The idea of getting a vaccination was very scary for me. Being a person of color. But seeing that I could take potential steps in protecting myself out-weighed my skepticism.  I had some side effects from the first shot. But the second was a breeze. I am proud, and glad to say, ‘I got vaccinated!'”

Moisés Cruz Jáuregui, EBGTZ, dice: “Una vacuna significa tener la posibilidad de prevenir una enfermedad. El COVID-19 ha lastimado mucho nuestra comunidad y a la vez nos ha en señado lo fuertes que podemos ser juntos. Tuve la oportunidad de recibir la vacuna y me siento muy agradecido y afortunado por mi mismo y por la comunidad con la trabajo. Cuando tengan la oportunidad, aprovechenla y opten por protegerse y proteger a los que aman!”

Terri Lynn Haggins, Community member & WORLD volunteer says, “I took my second vaccine today. It’s important to think first about your health! NO to HIV…NO to cancer and NO to COVID-19!”

Dr. Xaviera Ortiz of LifeLong Medical Care and Alameda Health System is happy to share that she received the COVID-19 vaccine while she was pregnant, and both she and her healthy newborn now have antibodies that protect against getting COVID-19.

Imran Merchant at UCSF and Trikone says, “Working as a front line healthcare worker, receiving the vaccine meant I was protecting myself and helping those around me. Yes, I felt the symptoms of chills and body aches but that is nothing compared to the pain of having had COVID and being hospitalized and it is nothing compared to the millions of lives lost due to COVID. Help protect yourself and your community, get vaccinated.”

Christian Aguirre (He/Him), HIV Prevention Manager at Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County, says “I felt very fortunate to have the chance to receive the vaccine and help protect the LGBTQI+ community members that are served through Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa. Many of us struggle when it comes to receiving health services because of privilege, cost, insurance, and immigration status. The advice I had to give to myself was: If you are available to get the vaccine, do it ASAP!”

Jesse Brooks, Community Advocate and EBGTZ Advisory Board Chair, says: “Being vaccinated was important to me, I can’t wait to get back to some resemblance of normalcy. I miss my family, and especially my 86-year-old mother.  The worst for me have been all the deaths, bringing up PTSD from the early years of HIV. It’s been challenging living in daily fear of contracting COVID-19 or worse, passing it on to loved ones. As a community leader I felt the demonstration to the community and my family was important, knowing the mistrust that exists and knowing that it’s a challenge to put those fears to rest. I also felt I was at increased risk because of my age and comorbidities of diabetes.”

Shirley Mychelle Gainey, Case Manager at CAL-PEP, says:

“The reason I got vaccinated is that I miss hugging my baby boy. I haven’t hugged him tight since Mother’s day. When it comes to HIV or STI’s, he is well informed and asks questions. (Thank you CAL-PEP and APEB.) I want him to be just as informed about COVID-19. My landlord is 83 years old. I don’t want to place him in harm’s way. I miss going to campus. I am so over virtual everything! I understand that the masks will be with us through the next 100 days. At Least. If you and I and 100 people we know also get the vaccine, maybe the 100 days will seem more like 80.”

Amber Taylor, Case Manager at WORLD, says: “I got the vaccine due to working in the public, with a large number of people who are susceptible to catching the virus. Myself having asthma I am at a greater risk of catching COVID, so getting the vaccine I am protecting myself and the ones I love. I am always around my child, my father who is 65, my grandmother who is 70+, they are all at a greater risk of not recovering fully from this virus, so being around them I need to make sure they are protected at all times.”

Dr. Sami Lubega of EBGTZ got the vaccine from Dr. Maggie Edmonds, Deputy CMO at LifeLong and says, “I got the vaccine because I trust it to help me protect my patients, family, and community. For me, getting the vaccine is an important step in the movement to fight COVID-19 and to bring healing and togetherness into our lives again!”

Dr. Sophy Wong of EBGTZ got the vaccine from DL Poole, PA and COO at LifeLong and says, “Getting the vaccine is a pivotal moment in the pandemic for me. It feels like we’re finally starting to dig our way out of this crisis. I’m grateful to get such a highly effective vaccine to protect not only my own health but the health of loved ones and our communities. I look forward to working with everyone to get more vaccines out to more people more quickly!”

2-month post-vaccine update: “I tend to get lots of side effects from medications and vaccines. Thankfully I was able to take the day off work after each dose. I got injection site pain and fatigue with the first dose that lasted a few days. After the second dose, I got fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches and a headache. It made me feel better to know that the side effects are from my body’s immune system training hard (real hard!) to fight off the virus and was helping me protect myself, my family and my community get safer. I could feel my body churning out loads of antibodies!

The longest side effect I’ve had is a feeling of liberation knowing that I am safely visiting my vaccinated mother and spending more time with loved ones. After this long and stressful pandemic year, it’s an amazing feeling to know that I was able to get vaccinated to keep my community safer and healthier.”