Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Vaccinations

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Guidelines and Why Vaccination Against COVID-19 Matters

The Santa Barbara County Health Department will be following guidelines from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to prioritize vaccine distribution. Vaccine production is slowly increasing in the United States. A phased approach will be used to ensure high-risk community members are prioritized as vaccine distribution continues.

The COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most important tools to end the COVID-19 pandemic and getting Santa Barbara County’s local economy and our communities back to some level of normalcy while increasing our safety. 

A COVID-19 Vaccine will:

  • Reduce number of people with COVID-19
  • Reduce severity of illness
  • Reduce hospitalizations
  • Reduce deaths
  •  Reduce the opportunity for the virus to mutate into more virulent and pathogenic variants

This is only the beginning and we must all continue to do our part to stay safe while until the vaccine becomes widely available. Stay home as much as possible. If you must leave, continue to wear a face covering and keep at least 6 feet of distance from anyone you don’t live with. Wash your hands frequently and avoid gathering with other households.

Frequently Asked Questions

The COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of charge. As is customary with government-purchased vaccines, healthcare professionals could charge insurers for the cost of administering the vaccine.

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. California also formed a Scientific Safety Review Work Group comprised of nationally recognized immunization, public health, academic and other experts to review vaccine safety.

The work group is staying abreast of vaccine candidate(s) trials, evidence of safety and efficacy, and other information to independently provide recommendations to California leadership as well as ensure public confidence in vaccine safety, efficacy, and implementation efforts. 

There are also several safety monitoring systems set up in the US, including:

 Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)

 Vaccine safety datalink

 Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project (CISA)


These safety monitoring systems provide methods for checking in with vaccine recipients after vaccination and allow participants to report any side effects or health problems experienced after COVID-19 vaccination.

Most of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States need two doses several weeks apart to be effective.

EAU approval from the FDA has been granted for 3 vaccines with the following dose scheduling:

  • Moderna:   2 doses, 28 days apart (CDC guidelines allow for a grace period of  24-42 days)
  • Pfizer: 2 doses, 21 days apart (CDC guidelines allow for a grace period of  17-42 days)  
  • Janssen: 1 dose

Yes. More information on how the COVID-19 vaccine works can be found on the CDC website.


95-100%%: COVID dominant strain severe disease 100% CDC definition and 95.3% FDA definition

91.3% vaccine efficacy: 7 days – 6 months after 2nd dose

100% in preventing cases: In South Africa where  B.1.351  variant is prevalent 

Data not yet available: UK Variant



94.1%:  COVID dominant strain

Data not yet available: South Africa Variant

94%: UK Variant



66% COVID dominant strain

57% South Africa Variant

66% UK Variant

93.1% est. efficacy in Preventing COVID Related Hospitalization
100% Preventing COVID related death.

The Public Health Department offers the vaccine at community vaccination clinics. Local pharmacies, hospitals, community healthcare centers, and some primary care providers are offering vaccinations as well.

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 wearing masks, washing hands and physical distancing.

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. We do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have questions.

COVID-19 vaccines are a critical part of the response to the pandemic. Even as they become available, it will be important to continue to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and wash hands often to reduce the spread of illness. The impact of the vaccines will depend on how effective they are at combating the virus, how quickly supplies of vaccine can be manufactured and delivered, and how many people get vaccinated. The clinical trial results for the initial vaccines we expect to become available are very promising. Government experts have suggested that vaccines will be widely available in the second half of 2021. If most people get the vaccine, the pandemic could be stopped.

Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:

  • Fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel and do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
  • Fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested before leaving the United States (unless required by the destination) or self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
  • Fully vaccinated people can Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Fully vaccinated people can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic

Yes, older adults were included in all clinical trials, and the vaccine was found to be effective for this population as well. Older adults were also found to have decreased and less-pronouced side effects associated with the vaccine compared with other populations.

Per the CDC, the vaccine is considered safe for individuals who are immunosuppressed due to autoimmune conditions, with HIV, or who take immunosuppressant medications. However, it is recommended you consult with your physician for guidance.

Per the CDC, the only contraindication to receiving the vaccine is a history of severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components (including plyethylene glycol or polysorbate). A full list of ingredients is available here:

No. The presence of side effects does not mean the vaccine gave you COVID-19. In fact, mRNA vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19 because the vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19/ Any side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do – working and building up protection against disease. In other words, if you feel some discomfort, this means the vaccine is doing its job.

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