January 20, 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, safely removes a 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 emerging rapidly, Kaiser Permanente is committed to providing you with information as it’s available.

Here are 5 things we know about the COVID-19 vaccines:

  1. Two COVID-19 vaccines are currently available for emergency use in the United States. Vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and by Moderna are being distributed across the United States. Our infectious disease and other clinical experts, along with state health officials with whom we are in close contact, reviewed vaccine data to help ensure we give the vaccine safely and equitably. This process will happen each time a new vaccine is cleared for use.
  2. Supplies of the vaccines will be limited for a while. Kaiser Permanente is committed to getting the vaccine to our members and people in our communities as soon as possible. However, initial distributions of the vaccine to each state were limited. So, while state and federal health officials recently expanded vaccine eligibility to people 65 and older along with already-eligible health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, we continue to have a limited supply of the vaccine. That means not everyone who is eligible will be able to be vaccinated right away. In fact, in California, most individuals will not be able to schedule a vaccination appointment at this time. We expect to eventually receive enough doses so that all adults in the United States can get vaccinated by late 2021.   
  3. You’ll likely need to get 2 shots. The 2 vaccines currently being distributed require 2 injections, with approximately 3 to 4 weeks between doses. The 2 shots must be from the same manufacturer — the vaccines are not interchangeable.
  4. The vaccine is not available to children yet. Currently, the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is authorized for people age 16 and up. The Moderna vaccine is authorized for those 18 and up. A COVID-19 vaccine will not be available for children until more clinical studies are completed.
  5. We must continue healthy behaviors before and after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. It will take some time for a large percentage of people to get vaccinated. Until then, physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, limiting group gatherings, restricting nonessential travel, and wearing masks — even after being vaccinated — all remain crucial in our fight to slow the spread of the virus).

Stay informed

For the latest information, members and nonmembers can call our COVID-19 vaccine hotline 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 a vaccine when you’re eligible at kp.org/covidvaccine. Kaiser Permanente members can also download the kp.org app for convenient access to information.