COVID-19 Vaccines

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines, how they work and the benefits of getting vaccinated.

Family Health Centers of San Diego’s doctors, nurses and America’s leading medical experts are in full support of the COVID-19 vaccines. Below are answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination.

Schedule an appointment:

To schedule your vaccine appointment, call (619) 515-2474.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, visit the CDC website.

The COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you COVID-19.

The vaccines do not carry the virus, they only use a protein from the virus that allows your body’s immune system to generate antibodies.

About Vaccines

Q What are the benefits of taking the vaccine?

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  • Getting vaccinated will help keep you, your family, and our community healthy and safe.
  • Vaccines prevent serious illness and hospitalization.
  • By getting vaccinated, you can help end the damage to the economy caused by lockdowns and prevent more illnesses and death.
  • Getting vaccinated will significantly free up space in crowded hospitals and ensure everyone, not just COVID-19 patients, is able to get the medical care they need.

Q What are the vaccine’s side effects?

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We understand you may be concerned about side effects. The most common side effects are mild and may include arm soreness, redness, swelling, fatigue, headache, chills, nausea, mild fever or joint/muscle aches. These are similar to other vaccines you have received. When mild side effects occur, they are a normal sign your body is building protection to the virus, and most go away in a few days. More severe side effects, such as serious allergic reaction, are extremely rare, occurring in about 1 in 100,000 to 400,000 people.

Depending on which vaccine you receive, it will be delivered in two shots 21 or 28 days apart, and these side effects may be slightly worse after the second shot.

Helpful tips:

If you have pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin (only for people age 18 or older) or antihistamines after getting vaccinated. Don’t take any of these medicines before getting vaccinated.

To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot:

  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area
  • Use or exercise your arm

To reduce discomfort from fever:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Dress lightly

When to call the doctor:

In most cases, discomfort from mild fever or pain is normal. Contact your doctor or health care provider if:

  • The redness or tenderness where the shot was given gets worse after 24 hours
  • Your symptoms last longer than 48 hours

Although rare, if you experience any severe allergic reactions (breathing problems, swelling of your mouth/face/tongue or hives, dizziness and weakness or irregular or fast heartbeat), call 9-1-1 immediately or go to the emergency room.

Q Who is eligible to get the vaccine?

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Anyone who lives or works in San Diego County can schedule their COVID-19 vaccine at FHCSD clinics.* For more information on vaccines for individuals between six months and 18 years old, click here.

To schedule your vaccine appointment, call (619) 515-2474.

*Anyone five years of age or older who doesn’t qualify for VFA/VFC or BAP will need to schedule their COVID-19 vaccine with their local pharmacy.

Q If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?

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If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period if desired. After this period, it is still recommended that you receive the vaccine as it will likely give you stronger immunity that may last longer than from natural infection.

Q What if I had COVID-19 and received the antibody treatment? 

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If you received antibody infusion therapy, you should not get vaccinated until at least 90 days after treatment. The vaccines likely will not be effective until the antibodies have had a chance to go away. If you had your antibody treatment at FHCSD, we are tracking this and will contact you when it is appropriate for you to get vaccinated.

Q How long is the vaccine effective for?

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Like the flu shot, your health care provider recommends you receive a new COVID-19 vaccine every year. Both COVID-19 and the flu change over time, creating new variants of each virus. While a booster helps increase your previous immunity, the updated vaccine builds a new immune response to the new variants. You can also safely receive the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same appointment.

Q How do we know the vaccine is safe?

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The COVID-19 vaccine went through the same transparent and rigorous process with tens of thousands of clinical trial participants as other regular vaccinations, like the flu or chicken pox. This process includes multiple steps, which allow medical researchers to check for safety issues several times before the vaccine is available for everyone. Researchers also paused clinical trials if there were any unexpected results to ensure there were no serious problems. Every study, every phase and every trial was reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a safety board.

Q How were they able to develop the vaccine so quickly?

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You may be concerned about how quickly the COVID-19 vaccine was developed. However, the speed does not mean the vaccine is unsafe. The vaccine was developed quickly for several reasons:

  • Medical researchers have been working on vaccines for other viruses in the coronavirus family for many years. Because of this, they were able to use the information already available to create a successful vaccine more quickly.
  • Medical researchers from all over the world worked together to share new information and data as it was discovered, which sped up the process.
  • The clinical trials used combined phases during testing. This allowed them to run multiple clinical trials at the same time.

Q What happens if I have recently had another non-COVID-19 vaccination? 

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You can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the same appointment as other vaccines. Many people may choose to receive both the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same appointment so they do not need to return at a later date.

Q After I’m fully vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask?

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Combining multiple prevention tools is the best way to prevent COVID-19. This includes:

  • Getting vaccinated
  • Wearing a mask in crowds or indoors in public places, such as the grocery store, movie theater or health clinic
  • Taking a test if you are experiencing symptoms

To learn more about effective masks, click here.

Q Is it true that the vaccine will change my DNA?

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The vaccines do not interact with your DNA in any way. The vaccines deliver instructions to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.

Q Is it true that the vaccine will implant a microchip to track me?

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The vaccine will not implant anything in your body. To help deliver the key ingredient of the vaccines (either mRNA or the harmless adenovirus, depending on the vaccine) to your immune system, the vaccine also contains lipids, salts, sugars, acids and ethanol, all of which occur naturally in your body. There are no metals or other microchips parts in any of the approved vaccines.

Getting Your Vaccine

Q Where can I get vaccinated?

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We have vaccination clinics at multiple FHCSD sites. Depending on availability, you may get a choice of sites when you schedule. For the current list of vaccination sites, click here.

Q Can I get my second dose of the vaccine from FHCSD if I got my first dose from somewhere else?

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Yes, but your second dose needs to be from the same manufacturer as your first dose. Currently, we are able to offer the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Q I’m scheduled to receive a vaccine. What can I expect at the vaccine clinic?

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If you are scheduled to receive your vaccine, please be sure to keep your appointment and arrive on time, or earlier. If you are unable to make your appointment, please call (619) 515-2474 and notify our staff so we are able to fill your appointment time and reschedule you.

Advanced check-in:

Please check-in 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. This helps our staff maintain a steady pace for each appointment and ensures we are able to schedule your second dose appointment.

Appointment times:

Because we are vaccinating many people, it’s important for us to streamline this process. You can help by arriving 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to check in and ask any questions you may have prior to getting your vaccine.

Post-vaccine:

Once you have received your vaccine, you will be asked to wait in a designated seating area for a 15-30 minute observation period before you can leave. This is for your safety and to ensure you do not show any allergic reactions to the vaccine.

Please comply with this safety measure. You will also be given post-vaccination discharge instructions that you should read and keep available for reference.

Q What if I develop symptoms after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

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You may experience mild to moderate symptoms or side effects after receiving the vaccine. This is to be expected since they are a normal sign your body is building protection and should go away in a few days.

Common side effects

On the arm where you got the shot:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Throughout the rest of your body:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

If your symptoms last longer than 48 hours, contact your provider so they can evaluate your symptoms.

Although rare, if you experience any severe allergic reactions, you should seek immediate medical attention.

  • Breathing problems
  • Swelling of your mouth/face/tongue
  • Hives
  • Dizziness and weakness
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat

For more information on what to expect after getting your vaccine, visit the CDC website.

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