COVID-19 Vaccines

county seal

A message from:
Board of Supervisors
Susan S. Muranishi, County Administrator

January 15, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

We hope that you were able to take care of yourselves and spend time with your family over the holidays and to welcome in the new year.

Despite a challenging start, we continue to look forward to 2021 as a brighter and hopeful new year. We are grateful that the commitment and resilience of our employees over the past 10 months has enabled the County to continue providing core services to our residents and diverse communities during the pandemic. We also remain focused on protecting the safety and health of our valued employees.

With the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, we have entered a new phase of the pandemic—one that brings hope along with the continued need for precaution. Our Health Care Services Agency has been leading the County’s COVID-19 response and prepared the information below regarding COVID-19 vaccines with answers and resources for commonly asked questions.

Please note that the information below is based on the most current data and guidance received from our federal and State partners. If you have questions, please reach out to your departmental Human Resource Services representative.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. Safety information about the vaccines has been reviewed and approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), Food and Drug Administration ("FDA"), and the Western States Scientific Review Committee (California, Oregon, and Washington).

Who will get vaccinated and in what order?

Vaccine supply is limited. Alameda County is following the State’s prioritization framework, which is based on CDC recommendations and is evolving. Vaccine administration began in Alameda County the week of 12/14/20. For the latest updates on where the County is with vaccine administration, please visit:

  • Vaccines are being administered in phases. How quickly we can move through each phase depends on how much vaccine is available. Local health departments have some control within the phases but cannot skip phases or go out of order. All phases are subject to revision by the State.
  • Each Phase is broken down further into Tiers to help prioritize within each phase. For more details on tiers, please visit:

As of January 13, 2021, the prioritization phases are as follows:

phases graph

What does this mean for Alameda County employees?

  • Where you fall within a phase depends on your role and duties. Most County employees are eligible for Phase 1. However, there are multiple sub-phases and tiers within each phase. For example: Phase 1a/Tier 2 includes Public Health Field Staff, while Phase 1b/Tier 1 includes Emergency Services, and Phase 1c/Tier 1 includes all government. Some employees may also fall into multiple categories depending on their age or individual health risks.
  • County leadership is working with Human Resources and Department Heads to determine which employees fall into which categories.Considerations include risk for exposure to the virus as a part of your job duties, level of interaction with the public, and risk for spreading to others as part of your job duties. Additional details will be provided in the coming months.
  • Please note that Phase 1 includes large groups of people and sectors, and it also covers more than half of the population of Alameda County. As such, it will take many months to complete.

Who makes the prioritization decisions?

  • Federal: The CDC convenes an independent panel of medical and public health experts, known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices ("ACIP"), to make national recommendations about vaccine policies.
  • State: While states often follow the ACIP recommendations, final decisions are made by each state. In California, those decisions are being made by the State's COVID-19 Task Force, which includes multiple workgroups and agencies, and implemented by the California Department of Public Health ("CDPH").
  • Local: Each County Public Health Department is responsible for carrying out the State's plan including where vaccines will be given, who will be giving the vaccines, and how the County will ensure everyone has a chance to get a vaccine when it is offered to people in their phase.

Which vaccines are currently available?

There are two vaccines currently available: one from Moderna and one from Pfizer. Both have shown to be 94-95% effective and both require two doses, given about three weeks apart. Based on currently available data, the CDC and CDPH advise that both doses are required for complete protection.

Is getting vaccinated mandatory?

No, there is no requirement from the state or federal government to get vaccinated. Vaccination is an individual decision, and we hope to share the best available information to help people make the right choice for themselves.

Where will you get vaccinated?

The vaccine will be available in a variety of settings, including County-run points of dispensing ("PODs") and your primary care physician. As vaccine supply increases, it could also be available in more settings, such as pharmacies.

Do you need to wear a mask, follow social distancing and hand-washing after getting vaccinated?

Yes. The vaccine will protect you from developing severe illness, but it may not stop you from spreading COVID-19 to others. Until we get enough people vaccinated to protect our entire community, it is critical that everyone—even those who have been vaccinated—continue to wear masks and follow other COVID-19 prevention guidance.

What should you do while you wait to be vaccinated?

Please continue to follow the prevention guidelines you’ve heard about since the pandemic started:

  • Wear a face covering
  • Keep at least six feet of distance from anyone you don’t live with
  • Wash your hands often
  • Stay home if sick
  • Avoid gatherings

Interested in learning more?