What’s up with COVID vaccines?
Updated December 1, 2023
The 2023-2024 updated Covid vaccine is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and up and is now available in the East Bay without cost or co-pay, including for people who don’t have insurance or immigration papers.
Get an updated vaccine at:
- your medical provider
- local pharmacies (CVS and Walgreens if you don’t have insurance)
- public/county sites (if you don’t have insurance)
- Click for more details.
Key vaccine updates:
- The 2023-2024 updated Covid vaccines have been approved and recommended by the FDA and CDC for everyone ages 6 months and up, at least 2 months after the previous vaccine dose. Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines have been approved; the Novavax vaccines is still pending approval. The updated vaccines are monovalent ones targeting the XBB1.5 variant, and data shows good cross-immunity to newer circulating variants, such as EG.5 and BA.2.86.
- The updated vaccine protects against currently circulating variants in the East Bay: Updated vaccine data shows that it provides a significant increase in antibody response to the currently circulating variants, including EG.5, FL.1.5 and XBB1.16, as well as the highly mutated JN.1 variant. New data also shows that vaccinations reduce the risk of long Covid symptoms in adults and children.
- If you have insurance: check with your primary care clinic or pharmacy for the updated vaccine. They are most likely to provide the vaccine with the fewest insurance issues. Unlike before, insurance coverage will be checked before Covid vaccines are given at pharmacies. Coverage at specific pharmacies depends on their insurance contracts.
- If you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover the complete Covid vaccine cost: CVS and Walgreens are required by the national Bridge Program to cover Covid vaccines at no cost to you. You can also go to designated public/county vaccine sites – click here for details.
- When to get the vaccine: you are eligible if your last vaccine dose was 2+ months ago. Generally, most people can wait 3 months after their last infection. To have protection for the anticipated winter wave, get it by the end of October.
- Updated vaccination guidelines:
- Everyone ages 6 months and up should get at least one updated vaccine dose to be considered up to date.
- People ages 65+ may get a 2nd updated dose at least 4 months after the first one.
- People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional updated doses at least 2 months after the previous one.
- Children aged 6 months–4 years need multiple doses to be up to date, including at least 1 dose of the updated vaccine.
- People may choose which vaccine they receive as an updated dose using the “mix and match” approach. Everyone, especially those who got a single J&J dose, is recommended to get a Moderna or Pfizer booster. Data shows better protection against hospitalization with Omicron with mRNA boosters after a J&J dose.
- The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is available at multiple East Bay pharmacies. The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is an updated, adjuvanted XBB.1.5 monovalent vaccine (2023-2024 formula). Please see this FDA Fact Sheet for more information. To schedule a vaccination appointment, please visit the website of your pharmacy of choice. Kaiser will offer the Novavax only to persons who were previously unable to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
- Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have earned full FDA approval.
- What’s up ahead for vaccines? Nasal vaccines are in development to provide better mucosal immunity against infection and long COVID. “Variant-proof” pan-coronavirus vaccines are also in development.
- Need proof of vaccination? Visit the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record site to request your digital vaccination card.
Real-world data from US studies from winter 2022-2023 show that the bivalent booster provided:
- 73% additional protection against COVID hospitalization compared with past monovalent mRNA vaccination only for people ages 65 and over. (IVY network of US hospitals)
- 31-50% additional protection against COVID emergency department/urgent care visits for people who previously received 2, 3, or 4 monovalent doses. 31% if the last dose was 2-4 months ago and 50% if the last dose was 12+ months ago. (VISION network of US hospitals)
- 28-61% additional protection against symptomatic infection, depending on age, how many doses received and how long ago the last dose was.
- Boosters are important due to waning of vaccine efficacy by 4 months against hospitalization in all age groups: 68% to 27% efficacy from 2 to 4 months in ages 18-64 (compared to unvaccinated) and 64% to 53% to 39% efficacy from 2 to 4 to 6 months after vaccination for people ages 65+. Protection against ventilation or death was better preserved: 76% to 54% from 6 months to 12 months after vaccination. (Link-Gelles, CDC ACIP April 2023 meeting)
How do we get a COVID vaccine?
If you have a primary care provider and/or insurance, here are some options:
- Go to your medical provider (click for: Kaiser, Sutter, Stanford, Children’s Oakland, community health centers)
- Ask a local pharmacy if they take your insurance. Unlike before, insurance coverage will be checked before Covid vaccines are given at pharmacies. Coverage at specific pharmacies depends on their insurance contracts.
- Go to MyTurn.ca.gov or call 833-422-4255, or
- Check the Vaccines.gov national vaccine finder, which links to most pharmacy locations.
- If you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover the complete Covid vaccine cost: CVS and Walgreens are required by the national Bridge Program to cover Covid vaccines at no cost to you.
- In Alameda County, updated vaccines are/will also be available for free for uninsured people at the following sites, with schedules and vaccine availability updated on this calendar or call 510-268-2101 for more info.
- Family Justice Center: located at 470 27th St. (at Telegraph) in Oakland, Wednesdays 1-3:30 pm and Saturdays 10-2pm. It’s best to call 510-267-3230 to make an appointment. They also serve walk-ins, but the client might end up waiting for a while if they have scheduled appointments for that day.
- Wellness clinic at Laney College Flea Market: located at 510 Fallon St, Oakland, CA 94607, Sunday mornings starting at 9 am. This collaborative effort with Umoja Health, BayPLS and ACPHD will offer updated vaccines for the uninsured there once it becomes available.
- In Contra Costa County, visit Contra Costa Health vaccine location or call 800-495-8885.
- Solano County vaccine access
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
Vaccine phone lines:
- Alameda County: 510-268-2101
- Contra Costa County: 800-495-8885
- Solano County: 707-343-4571
- California state’s MyTurn vaccine line: 833-422-4255
If you are home-bound:
- Home-bound people in Alameda County: to sign up for in-home vaccination, please complete the vaccine registration form on this webpage. If you are not able to use the internet form, please call 510-208-4829.
- Home-bound people in Contra Costa County: request a home vaccination from the mobile team.
- Kaiser members
- Sutter members
- Stanford Health members
- UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland members
- Alameda Health Systems
- Vaccines for kids: If your pediatrician’s clinic is not listed here, please call them or go to their website directly.
Community Health Centers:
- Asian Health Services
- Axis Community Health
- Bay Area Community Health
- La Clínica
- LifeLong Medical Care
- Native American Health
- Roots Community Health Center
- Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center
- West Oakland Health
- Rite Aid
- Health Mart
- Vaccines.gov also links to most pharmacy locations providing vaccines but doesn’t get updated as frequently as the pharmacy websites.
Vaccines through county vaccination sites:
- Alameda County COVID-19 vaccine access
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.
What vaccines are currently available?
- See how the authorized vaccines work: download PDF infographics from the CDC –
People living with HIV and COVID-19 vaccines
All people living with HIV (PLWH) are at higher risk for severe illness and long COVID from COVID-19 infection and are highly recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and are all recommended to get updated vaccine doses. The authorized vaccines are safe for people living with HIV regardless of CD4 count.
People with HIV who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional bivalent booster doses at least 2 months after the previous one. This includes people with advanced or untreated HIV infection: CD4 cell counts <200/mm3, history of an AIDS-defining illness without immune reconstitution, or clinical manifestations of symptomatic HIV.
Studies on PLWH and COVID infection and vaccination outcomes
Research data has found that PLWH are more likely to get post-vaccine infections, even at higher CD4 counts and undetectable viral loads, so consider third doses, boosters and mRNA vaccines for all PLWH.
Long-COVID studies in New York and San Francisco (UCSF LIINC-HIV group) found that PLWH were about 2-4x as likely to have long COVID compared to people who were HIV-negative. The study from the UCSF LIINC-HIV group followed 39 PLWH and 43 well-matched people without HIV after their initial COVID infection found that PLWH were 4x as likely to have WHO-defined long COVID. PLWH had lower SARS-CoV-2 specific CD8+ and higher CD4+ T cell responses, which may have implications for immunity after infection. (Peluso)
A 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.
These studies underscore the importance of prioritizing PLWH for outreach and to complete all vaccination doses.
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, be sure the proper antibody type is ordered:
- The anti-spike IgG antibody checks for circulating antibodies generated by vaccination *or* past infection.
- The anti-nucleocapsid IgG antibody checks for past infection only.
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).
COVID risk reduction
Here’s a quick guide for safer gatherings when cases are high:
- Encourage guests to get updated vaccines.
- Ask guests to stay home if sick.
- Ask guests to do a rapid COVID test right before you gather (ideally 15-30 minutes before) and make sure everyone coming is negative.
- Maximize ventilation by being outdoors and if indoors, keeping windows/doors open and running HEPA air filters.
- Wear high quality masks: N95 (best), KN95, KF94 (very good), double-masking with a surgical mask under a tight-fitting cloth mask (good) or at least a surgical mask with gaps tucked in (decent).
- Keep it small, such as 3 households or fewer.
When to get tested for COVID-19:
- When experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- When you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- Before gathering with others.
- Stay home (“isolate”) and wear a mask to protect people around you, including at home, following the guidance in the graphic below.
- Let your medical provider know ASAP because antiviral treatment may be available, especially if you are immunocompromised or have other risks for severe illness. Treatments are available for people at risk and are more effective taken as soon as possible after the start of symptoms.
- Click here for more details and treatment options.
Click for more from the CDC: general guidance, travel guidance and the scientific brief. Click here for our harm reduction guidance and graphics.
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 Novavax vaccines.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
- Myths and Facts from the CDC
- General vaccine FAQs from the CDC
- Alameda Health Consortium: Myths and Facts and FAQs in English, Español, 中文, and Arabic
- SFDPH COVID vaccine FAQs for community members
- 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)
- Vaccine info for people experiencing homelessness from Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless
- What can fully vaccinated people do? CDC’s webpage on their updated guidance
Resources for recipients and caregivers in multiple languages:
- Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson CDC vaccine information
- CDC v-safe app info for vaccine recipients to report side effects and get reminders for their second dose
- En Español: Vacunas contra el COVID-19 (CDC)
- Información Local y Recursos en Español (Unity Council); social media
- Información en Mam
- Vaccine info in 中文 | 한국어 | ខ្មែរ | Tiếng Việt (Chinese, Korean, Khmer and Vietnamese) from Asian Health Services
- Fact sheets for uninsured people on no-cost COVID-19 vaccines and care in English and en Español.
- The Conversation: Between Us, About Us. Several East Bay Black health care leaders, including Dr. Noha Aboelata, Dr. Damon Francis and Dr. Pamela Mackey are featured in this video hosted by W. Kamau Bell talking about COVID vaccines.
- Beastmode and Dr. Fauchizzi: Marshawn Lynch, AKA Beastmode recorded a conversation about COVID-19 vaccines with Dr. Anthony Fauci, AKA “Dr. Fauchizzi,” covering concerns Black people might have about the virus and getting vaccinated. Click here to watch.
- COVID-19 Vaccine And The Black Community: A Tyler Perry Special
- Black community vaccination videos from San Diego County
- Video: “Making It Plain: What Black America Needs to Know About COVID-19 and Vaccines”
- Videos en Español and English: Faculty of color from UCSF share their vaccine experiences
- La Clínica’s vaccine videos en Mayan Mam and en Español.
Resources for health care providers and organizations:
- COVID vaccine info for health care providers giving the vaccine
- CA and county vaccine education materials and media in multiple languages
- Updated CDC quarantine guidance and ACPHD updated Health Officer Order 20-06
- Reporting an adverse vaccine event to VAERS (the national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System)
- The latest vaccine recommendations from the CDC ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices)
- FAQ on vaccine access for immigrants from the National Immigration Law Center.
- “Por mi, por ti, por Fruitvale / For me, for you, for Fruitvale” social media tool kit (The Unity Council and La Clinica)
- Virality Project weekly briefings on online anti-vaccine misinformation
- CDC vaccine equity guidance: Best Practices for Community and Faith-based Organizations, A Guide for Community Partners and Toolkit for Correctional and Detention Facilities.
County public health department vaccine updates:
- Alameda County COVID-19 vaccine plan, guidance, resources
- Contra Costa County COVID-19 vaccine updates and appointments
- Solano County vaccine updates and access points
COVID-19 vaccine data trackers:
- Alameda County COVID-19 vaccine dashboard
- Contra Costa County vaccine dashboard
- Solano County vaccine dashboard
- California State vaccine tracker
- United States CDC vaccine tracker
- SF Chronicle and New York Times vaccine & rollout trackers
- WHO vaccine database: updated technical data & study links.
- KFF Vaccine Monitor: public attitudes and experience.
Vaccine questions and feedback:
- Alameda County: email firstname.lastname@example.org
- To bring equity-related concerns to Contra Costa County’s attention, click here.
- CA state: click here for community advisory committee meeting notes and email COVID19vaccineoutreach@cdph.ca.gov
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.”