COVID-19 Vaccine

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Frequently Asked Questions [Updated FAQs 1/13/21]

Is the Vaccine Safe?

Yes, the vaccine is safe. The federal government, under the umbrella of Operation Warp Speed, has been working since the start of the pandemic to make a COVID-19 vaccine available as soon as possible.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA),  the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) carefully reviews all safety data from clinical trials and authorizes emergency vaccine use only when the expected benefits outweigh potential risks.

Experts continue to conduct more studies about the effect of COVID-19 vaccination on severity of illness from COVID-19,as well as its ability to keep people from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.  

Will Getting vaccinated help prevent getting sick with COVID-19?

COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. While many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness or they may even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. If you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick.

Is DOHC giving COVID vaccines?

DOHC is an approved site for the new COVID vaccines and has begun providing vaccines to the top tiers of persons eligible as determined by the CDC, the State of CA, and Riverside County Health Department. Please visit for information about vaccine availability, updates, and look for texts from DOHC to schedule you for a vaccine appointment when you become eligible.  Vaccines will be offered based upon high-risk groups as is determined by the State of California and Riverside/San Bernardino counties.

If you are interested in figuring out your own risk and when you might be eligible for the vaccine, consider visiting to calculate your risk.

Is DOHC scheduling appointments for the vaccine?

Not at this time. DOHC is only providing vaccines to the limited top tiers of persons eligible as determined by the State of CA and Riverside County.  It is DOHC’s plan to schedule appointments based on how vaccines will be made available to the public.

How Many Doses Are Needed and Why?

All but one of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in phase 3 clinical trials use two shots. The same vaccine brand must be used for both shots.

Which Vaccines will DOHC be providing?

DOHC is an approved vaccine site for Riverside County.  DOHC will provide any of the vaccines that are approved and distributed to DOHC by Riverside County Health Department.

What should I do if I have a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?

The chances of you experiencing a severe reaction to the COVID-19 vaccination are extremely rare. However, if you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 911 and get to the nearest hospital.

For other signs that concern you please call your health care provider or go to the nearest Desert Oasis Immediate Care.

Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received 2 doses of the vaccine?

Yes. It will be very important to continue to use all the tools available to us to stop the spread of COVID-19 such as covering your nose and mouth with a mask, washing hands often and social distancing of at least 6 feet from others. By using these tools as recommended by the CDC and receiving the COVID-19 vaccination together, we can offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.

Is it Better to Get Natural Immunity Rather than Immunity from Vaccines?

Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. However, experts don’t know how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.  Because some people with COVID-19 can have very mild symptoms, some may see natural infection as preferable to receiving a new vaccine. However, COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. If you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you.

What are the Known Side Effects?

Most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated. Common side effects may include: your arm may be sore, red, or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. Some people report getting a headache or fever when getting a vaccine. These side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It is working and building up protection to disease.

However, it does take time and more people getting vaccinated before we learn about very rare or long-term side effects. That is why safety monitoring will continue. CDC has an independent group of experts that reviews all the safety data as it comes in and provides regular safety updates. If a safety issue is detected, immediate action will take place to determine if the issue is related to the COVID-19 vaccine and determine the best course of action.

Will the COVID-19 vaccines give you COVID-19?

NO. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

Will COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests?

NO. Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.

If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody-testing results.

Should People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 get vaccinated?

YES.  However, the CDC recommends waiting for 90 days after having COVID to get the vaccine.

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible; people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works.

Best advice, if you have had COVID ask your health care provider when you should get the vaccine.

Will Receiving an mRNA vaccine alter your DNA?

mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease.

If I am not a DOHC patient, is there someone who can help me make an appointment to get a vaccine?

For people 65 and older and needs assistance getting scheduled for the vaccine at a non DOHC site, call Riverside County Office of Aging 800-510-2020 or 2-1-1 for assistance.

If I live in San Bernardino County or another part of state or county can I still get the vaccine at DOHC?

YES. DOHC is approved by Riverside County Health Department as a community vaccine site.  That said, DOHC is required to provide the vaccine following the guidelines provided by Riverside County.  Because DOHC is the health provider in a region that includes patients who live in not only in Riverside, San Bernardino and other counties or regions, patients of DOHC will be able to get their vaccine through DOHC but within the limits of who is currently eligible (following the approved tiers).  Additionally, as permitted by Riverside County Health Department and vaccine supply allows, DOHC will provide the vaccine to other eligible community members.  The ultimate goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

If I get the shot, can others in my household get the vaccine at the same time?

Depends.  The CDC, State of California and Riverside County Health Department have established Tiers of eligibility to get the vaccine based on risk for getting COVID-19.  DOHC is an approved Riverside County vaccine site and must follow the guidance established by these authorities.  If at all possible, DOHC will attempt to make logical appointments for spouses, partners or households to get vaccinated when greater levels of the community become eligible to get the vaccine.  Unfortunately, we cannot vaccinate people who are not yet eligible.

Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

The current vaccines were approved under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).  Pregnant and breastfeeding women were not included in the original testing of the vaccines.  If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, we recommend that you discuss getting the vaccine with your health provider before making that decision.

I am 65 years old or have multiple health conditions that put me at risk, can I get the vaccine now?

The guidelines for who is currently eligible for the vaccine is determined by guidelines established by CDC, the State of CA and Riverside County Health Department.  The approved eligible “tiers” are published on the Riverside County Public Health website.  These eligible tiers change frequently as more and more people successfully get the vaccine or new tiers are approved.  Recent press releases on new groups becoming eligible happen faster than the local guidance is changed.  DOHC must and will follow the Riverside County guidance for who is currently eligible.  When you become eligible to be vaccinated, DOHC will contact you with an appointment to get the vaccine.

I want the vaccine asap, can I be on a wait list?

As you can imagine, many people are calling with urgent health concerns related to COVID-19.  If you are interested in leaving your name because you are interested in getting the vaccine, please visit ( and leave the requested information and you will be contacted when you become eligible for the vaccine.

Do I have to get my vaccine at DOHC or are there other options?

Both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties announced new COVID Vaccine dashboards on their websites that include the ability to register for upcoming vaccine clinics they are offering.  The links can be found here:

Riverside County COVID-19 Vaccine Info

San Bernardino County COVID-19 Vaccine Info

Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or Visit CDC website:

Vaccine Info


  • If you are experiencing symptoms, please call (760) 969-6555
  • If you have a hearing or speech impairment, please use our (TTY/TDD) line at 711.

Testing Locations

Testing Results

  • Results for COVID-19 tests performed by DOHC are returned in 72 hours or less. Please do not call for results. Our team will call you as soon as we receive your results. In the meantime, follow the directions given at the time of testing. Presume you may be positive.

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