March 16, 2021

5 things to know about the COVID-19 vaccines

Get the latest information about the vaccines and what to expect in the coming weeks.

Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center’s inpatient pharmacy director, David Cheng, PharmD, holds the vial of the first COVID-19 vaccine given in California.

Vaccines are a critical part of slowing, and eventually stopping, the spread of COVID-19. With news about the vaccines changing rapidly, Kaiser Permanente is committed to providing you with information as it’s available.

Here is an update on 5 things we know about the COVID-19 vaccines:

  1. There are 3 authorized vaccines in the United States. Kaiser Permanente is encouraged by having 3 safe and effective vaccines available to control and eventually end the pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson company. Our infectious disease physicians and other clinical experts reviewed the data for each of the vaccines as they were approved to ensure we are able to administer them safely. We will continue this practice for other vaccines that are authorized in the future.

    Note that the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people age 16 and up. The Moderna and J&J vaccines are authorized for people age 18 and up. A COVID-19 vaccine will not be available for children until more clinical studies are completed.

  2. Supplies are increasing, but demand remains higher. Supplies are starting to increase, but even with 3 vaccines available, demand remains greater than supply.

    To achieve large-scale immunity within our communities and be able to return to living life as we did before the pandemic, it is important to get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. Current supply limitations mean that people who want to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible will receive the type of vaccine that is available at the location where they will be vaccinated (you will likely not have the option to select which vaccine you get).

  3. Vaccination continues to vary by state and county. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to oversee vaccine distribution, including recommending priority phases, each state decides who can get the vaccine in each phase. Multiple states have now expanded vaccine eligibility based on age, health condition, or job category. Find details on eligibility at kp.org/covidvaccine.

  4. You may need to get 2 doses depending on the vaccine available to you. The J&J vaccine is a single-dose vaccine, which means you need only one shot. The Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines both require 2 shots from the same manufacturer — the vaccines are not interchangeable. The current recommended second-dose schedules are: on or after day 21 from the first dose for the Pfizer vaccine, and on or after day 28 from the first dose for the Moderna vaccine. You should get your second dose as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month schedule as possible, but not earlier.

  5. We must continue healthy behaviors before and after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should continue taking precautions in public places — wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart from others, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces until we know more.

Stay informed

For the latest information, members and nonmembers can call our KP COVID Vaccine InfoLine at 1-855-550-0951, available 24/7. Callers will hear a recorded message with the latest information, available in English and Spanish, and it will be updated as more information becomes available.

Find the latest information on vaccine eligibility and how to get vaccinated when you’re eligible at kp.org/covidvaccine. Kaiser Permanente members can also download the kp.org app for convenient access to information.