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COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ's

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ's
Last updated: February 3, 2021

Greater Newport Physicians is looking forward to vaccinating our community to halt the spread of COVID-19. We are working in partnership with MemorialCare to obtain vaccine from local and state governmental agencies to rollout COVID-19 vaccines to our patients. Together with MemorialCare we have started with frontline healthcare workers and are following California’s prioritized set of guidelines to move on to the next highest risk populations. We are pleased to share that the oc Health Care Agency has provided us with a small supply of covid-19 vaccine and that we have already begun to offer vaccinations to GNP patients 75 years and older.

As our supply of vaccine increases and this highest risk population has had the opportunity to be immunized, we will be expanding to patients 65 and up and then further expanding as the prioritization guidelines dictate. Once you become eligible to receive the vaccine and we have sufficient supply, you will be notified using the contact information we have on file.

What Can You Do?

Contacting you through email will be the fastest way to reach you to provide details on when and how to schedule your appointment. To help us, please visit gnpweb.com/info and complete our online form to provide your email address. Until then, please do not call your physician’s office to inquire about scheduling a vaccine appointment since they will not have any additional information.

We know vaccinating everyone will take time. If you prefer, you may choose to take advantage of one of the county-organized sites such as Disneyland or Dodger Stadium. You will find links to these sites below in the FAQ.

Thank you for your patience.

 

Please see the most common questions and answers related to COVID-19 vaccines.

 

Will I be able to get vaccinated immediately?

The California Department of Health (CDPH) has developed a phase/tier prioritized set of guidelines for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. GNP is following these guidelines. While you may be eligible to be vaccinated once you fall within your particular phase/tier priority group, how soon will also depend on the availble vaccine supply.

The CDPH's guidelines begin with Phase 1A, vaccinating frontline healthcare workers to ensure safe care to those who need it. GNP has nearly completed vaccinating our physicians and their employees who fall into thiscategory.

The next  priority group (phase 1B, tier 1) is people who are 65 years and above.

Currently, GNP is vaccinating only our patients who are 75 years and above.

As soon as sufficient vaccine can be obtained, patients who are 65 to 74 years of age will be included in our vaccine plans. When it is your turn, we will notify you so that you can schedule an appointment. Please do not call your PCP office about the vaccine since they do not have any additional information.

Because we cannot say exactly when or how much vaccine we will receive from the state, if you prefer, you also have the option to sign up for your vaccination at one of the county-organized sites :  

Orange County residents: schedule your vaccine appointment by going to Othena.com

Long Beach residents: visit VAXLB to schedule an appointment or, for questions, email covid19vaccine@longbeach.gov or call 562.570.INFO.

Los Angeles residents: schedule your vaccine appointment through the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department's website.

What is the government’s process for vaccine distribution and prioritization? What are the Phases?

Initial supplies of vaccine are limited. Therefore, the California Department of Public Health developed guidelines for statewide COVID-19 vaccine allocation and distribution. In the first phase, called Phase 1a, individuals eligible to receive the vaccine are:

  • Healthcare workers at risk of exposure
  • Long-term care facility residents
  • Emergency medical services such as paramedics and EMTs
  • Dialysis center employees

And because the available vaccines will not meet the full needs of even this population, further prioritization will be based on type of facility, location and health status of the individual.


After Phase 1a is Completed

Phase 1a is estimated to include 24 million Americans.  The following information is for the next two groups in line, Phase 1b (49 million Americans) and Phase 1c (129 million Americans). Greater Newport Physicians is required to follow all vaccine prioritization guidelines outlined by the CDC and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).


Phase 1b: 

  • People 75 and older*
  • Frontline essential workers, including police officers, firefighters, teachers, grocery store staff and postal workers

 Phase 1c (begins when Phase 1b is complete):

  • People ages 65-74*
  • People ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions
  • Other essential workers (to include food service employees, transportation and logistics workers, construction workers, finance employees, information technology and communications, energy workers, the media, the legal profession, public safety engineers, and water and wastewater employees)

* UPDATE January 13, 2021:
Following CDC recommendations, the state of California announced moving to the top of Phase 1b people who are 65 years or older. If you’ve received care from us before, your records will help us identify and reach out to you if you fall into the “over 65” category so that you’ll know it is time to schedule your vaccination appointment. 

Download the chart of California's Phases and Tiers Here: 

How will I be notified when I can get the vaccine?

Greater Newport Physicians knows that our patients will need to be reached using different types of communication.  Eligible patients will be contacted using available communication avenues which might include mail, portal messages, email, text, and/or phone calls. You should not call your doctor’s office directly since they have no additional information.

What Can You Do?

Once we have vaccine, contacting you through email will be the fastest way to notify you it is time to schedule an appointment. To help us, please visit gnpweb.com/info and complete our online form to provide your email information.

Can I schedule an appointment for my vaccination now?

We are currently not taking appointments for vaccination because of the supply uncertainty. As supplies come in, eligible patients will be contacted to schedule both of their doses.  This may be at a physician office or at a centralized clinic location.

Alternatively, you may be able to obtain vaccine from one of the county health department's super POD vaccine stations.

When can the general public expect to be vaccinated?

The speed with which the public can be vaccinated depends on vaccine approval timelines, production and available supply.

Once ample supply is received, and once the California Department of Public Health’s recommended guidelines for prioritizing vaccine recipients have been satisfied, we expect to start vaccinating the general public. Even then, factors such as age, health issues and location may play a role in determining who gets prioritized.

It’s estimated that it may take about six months or more to immunize all who want to be immunized across the country.

Are the vaccines safe?

Each of the two vaccines have undergone multiple phases of clinical trials. In late-stage trials, they have been tested and monitored on tens of thousands of human volunteers.

Additionally, the FDA, which has the power to quickly approve medical products during times of public health emergencies, has stated that although the COVID-19 vaccines are being fast-tracked, their testing process has closely mirrored the standard rigorous testing and approval process that any non-emergency vaccine would require before it is approved.

Medical experts have studied the findings of these clinical trials and the scientific data and agree with the CDC and FDA recommendations that the vaccines are safe, effective and will lead to a significant reduction in the spread of the virus.

Do I have a choice as to which of these two vaccines I can have?

Because we do not knoe how much of each vaccine type -- Pfizer or Moderna -- we will receive or have available for our patients, we cannot control which vaccine will be offered when you make your appointment. therefore, you will not be able to choose which vaccine type you want. If you make an appointment and upon arrival find out it is not the vaccine brand you prefer, you will have the choice of accepting the vaccine we have available or canceling your appointment.

Are there any possible side effects or concerns?

It is possible you may experience side effects after vaccination. This is normal. Recipients have complained of pain at the injection site, fatigue, chills, fever, muscle aches and headaches.

WARNING:

People who have a history of anaphylaxis to another vaccine or injectable medication should be carefully monitored for 30 minutes if they choose to get the vaccine. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic overreaction of the body’s immune system, which can be life-threatening. Those concerned or who have been told by their healthcare provider to carry an EpiPen should speak with their physician before receiving the vaccine.

Should I get vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?

The CDC recommends that people who have had COVID-19 still be vaccinated. The risk of reinfection is very low in the first 90 days, so some people may choose to wait that long, but that is not necessary. People with current COVID-19 symptoms should wait, however, until their acute illness has resolved before being vaccinated.

Because this is a new virus, we are still learning about short and long-term immunity. Medical professionals are not certain how long a person can remain immune after having been infected. Therefore, those vaccinated will either gain immunity or potentially extend or strengthen existing immunity.

Are there any other groups of people who should or should not take the vaccine?

Currently, the two vaccines are not recommended for all ages. While the Pfizer vaccine is not recommended for those below the age of 16, the Moderna vaccine is not recommended for those below 18.

Although pregnant and breastfeeding women did not take part in any vaccine clinical trials, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has issued a statement that pregnant and nursing women should not be excluded from receiving a vaccine.

Once I am vaccinated, will I still need to follow precautionary measures?

Because it will take time to vaccinate and immunize everyone and there is a small chance that a vaccinated person can still get and spread the infection without getting sick themselves, it is strongly​ advised that even after being vaccinated, you continue to social distance, mask, and wash your hands frequently.

What data is being collected regarding vaccinations?

All hospitals and healthcare providers who administer the COVID-19 vaccination doses are required to report this information to the California Immunization Registry (CAIR) within 24 hours. In order to be able to do this, they must be registered with CAIR and have an immunization information system ID number.  Vaccine providers must also report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) any moderate and/or severe adverse events following a vaccination.

Which vaccines are available?

There are currently two vaccines approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA):

The Pfizer and German partner BioNTech Vaccine was the first to receive EUA from the FDA on December 11, 2020.

  • 95% efficacy
  • Requires two doses, 21 days apart
  • Recommended for ages 16 and above
  • Must be stored in special low temperature refrigeration, -80 degrees to -60 degrees Celsius, making it more likely to be used at hospitals

The Moderna (in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) Vaccine received EUA from the FDA on December 18, 2020.

  • 94.5% efficacy
  • Requires two doses, 28 days apart
  • Recommended for ages 18 and above
  • Requires standard refrigeration, -25 degrees to -15 degrees Celsius, making it possible to be used in smaller health clinics or local pharmacies 

Both vaccines are administered like a flu shot and are given in the muscle of the upper arm.

In general, after a person receives the first dose of a vaccine, they will start to develop some immunity within 2-4 weeks, but this is not enough immunity to protect against disease. These vaccines require the second ‘booster’ dose to reach full 94.5% or 95% immunity which can take an additional week after receiving the second dose. As for how long the immunity lasts, this is still not fully known. We still do not know if or how often you may need to be vaccinated again, for instance if yearly shots might be necessary.

Why is it taking so much time for vaccine to get distributed?

Acquiring a vaccine supply is a multi-layered process:

  • After the FDA and CDC approve emergency use authorization for a vaccine, they determine how much of the vaccine goes to each state.
  • The state, then determines how much vaccine gets distributed to the different county’s public health departments.
  • And finally, each county determines which health systems, providers, pharmacies, etc. are to receive the vaccine and how much each one will receive.
  • Once this is determined, the vaccine manufacturer or distributor sends the vaccine supply directly to the healthcare providers.
  • Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the number of doses requested will be available or the same as the number of doses that are actually being sent

I’ve been hearing of California’s super vaccine PODs. Can I get vaccinated at one of these sites?

The state and county have set up vaccine super pod (point-of-dispensing) stations, like the ones you may have heard about at Disneyland or Dodger Stadium. Much of the state’s limited vaccine supply is being directed to these large sites. You have the option to sign up for your vaccination at one of these county organized sites using the links below.  

Orange County residents: schedule your vaccine appointment by going to Othena.com

Long Beach residents: visit VAXLB to schedule an appointment or, for questions, email covid19vaccine@longbeach.gov or call 562.570.INFO.

Los Angeles residents: schedule your vaccine appointment through the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department's website.

Please continue to follow precautionary measures:

  • Stay home if you can
  • Don’t participate in gatherings with people outside your household
  • Wear a mask when you leave your home
  • Maintain six feet of physical distance
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Contact us
  • 800.553.6537
  • MMM.GNPInfo@MemorialCare.org