About the Vaccine


Last updated 5/12/2021

All people ages 12 and older are eligible to get vaccinated through Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), even if they do not live or work in Contra Costa County. People under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to their vaccination, have written consent from a parent/guardian, or have a parent/guardian we can contact by phone during the vaccination. 

Vaccines are one of the most important tools to end the COVID-19 pandemic. A safe, effective, no-cost COVID-19 vaccine will be available to everyone in California. The vaccine paired with other daily health habits, such as wearing face coverings and social distancing, will slow the spread of COVID-19 so businesses and schools can fully reopen and we can return to a more normal way of life.


Why Should I Get Vaccinated?

Vaccination is our most powerful tool to end the pandemic. The vaccines give you strong protection from getting COVID-19 and even greater protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death from the virus. They also appear to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Together, the vaccine and other healthy habits, like wearing a face covering and social distancing, will offer the best protection from COVID-19, reducing further spread so businesses and schools can fully reopen and we can return to a more normal way of life.


What Can I Do After I’m Fully Vaccinated?

People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine. If it has been less than 2 weeks since your shot, or you still need to get your second dose, you are not fully protected. Keep taking all prevention steps until you are fully vaccinated.

If you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart

  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household without masks or staying 6 feet apart,  unless any one of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19

  • If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.

  • You can gather or participate in activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.

  • You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States.

    • You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.

    • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States.

    • You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.

    • You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.

  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

    • However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

For now, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Take these precautions whenever you are:

  • You should still avoid indoor large gatherings.

  • If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested within 3 days of their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.

  • You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.

  • You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.


Click here to read the full guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


How Do the Vaccines Work?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to teach the body's cells to produce antibodies to protect you from COVID. Both of these vaccines require two doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is what is called a “viral vector vaccine.” It uses a modified version of a different (and harmless) virus to deliver important instructions to our cells to fight infections. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. The vaccines teach our bodies how to protect us against future infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.  

Are the Vaccines Safe?

Yes. Although the vaccines were developed in record time, they have gone through the same rigorous Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process as every other vaccine, meeting all safety standards. No steps were skipped. In fact, the state of California added another step by creating its own safety-review committee. Millions of people have been safely vaccinated around the world already. Click to learn more.

Even as vaccines become more widely available, it’s critical that you continue to protect yourself from COVID-19:

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Wear a face covering

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Keep at least 6 feet apart from others

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Avoid crowds

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Wash your hands often