Guide to COVID-19 vaccination

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Hundreds of thousands of people have come to this guide to get information about when, where, and how to find and make an appointment to get vaccinated in Oakland and Alameda County. We’re glad you’re one of them.

As of May 12, anyone aged 12 or older is eligible to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots are authorized to be given to anyone 18 or older. Moderna is conducting a Phase II trial  in children as young as 6. Johnson & Johnson’s Phase II trial in adolescents ages 12 to 17.

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All of California—the most populous state in the nation—has access to the state’s My Turn portal. It’s helped millions of people find vaccines, despite early bugs in the system.

 VaccinateCA is a volunteer effort to track open appointments and walk-up sites across the state.

For people who have trouble booking an appointment online, Alameda County health department has a hotline: 510-208-4VAX (4829). Their notification form takes into consideration factors like mobility and available medical coverage to help get specialized vaccination efforts to those who need it the most. You can also sign up to be vaccinated in your home.

Read on for more information on finding and making appointments at those sites, through your healthcare provider, at a public hospital, community health center, and other locations. You can simply scroll, or click a question below to jump down to a specific answer.

have questions or corrections for us?

Don’t see your question answered below? Notice something wrong or missing from our guide? Feel free to email us. Thanks in advance for helping us improve this information.

Where can I make an appointment?

VaccinateCA, a vaccine locator dashboard run by volunteers, to help people find vaccine sites near them The Alameda County Health Department uses their map on its vaccine site. includes vaccine sites run by the state, county, pharmacies and Curative sites near you who may have open appointments or walk-up opportunities

Or you can call 211, the county’s information resources hotline, to speak to an operator if you need assistance navigating the county’s vaccine resources and notification system. 211 is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Community Health Centers and county-run centers

Fremont High School‘s vaccination site is open Thursday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 4610 Foothill Boulevard in East Oakland. It hosts “family days” from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays where anyone 12 years or older can get a dose of the Pfizer vaccine or anyone 18+ can get a single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine .  It also offers Moderna vaccines to residents aged 18+. This site is open to all Alameda County residents and is the largest vaccine site run by the county.

Community health centers within the Alameda Health Consortium are now vaccinating eligible patients. If you’re currently a patient of one of these clinics, and haven’t received a text message from your healthcare provider, call using the numbers below:

  • Axis Community Health: 925-462-1755
  • Bay Area Community Health: 510-770-8040
  • La Clínica: 510-535-4000
  • LifeLong Medical Care: 510-704-6010
  • Native American Health Center: 510-535-4400
  • West Oakland Health Center: 510-835-9610

The Community Health Center Network has also amassed a variety of resources available in English, Spanish and simplified Chinese. Find them at

Asian Health Services has phone lines set up in several different languages for their locations:

Frank Kiang Medical Center, 250 East 18th St., 2nd Floor:

  • English/Chinese/Vietnamese: 510-735-3888
  • Korean: 510-735-3887
  • Mongolian: 510-735-3883
  • Tagalog: 510-735-3888 ext. 3765

Chenming & Margaret Hu Medical Center, 818 Webster St.:

  • Main: 510-986-6800
  • Vietnamese: 510-986-6862
  • Cambodian/Khmer: 510-986-6868
  • Tagalog: 510-986-6842
  • Korean: 510-986-6869

Native American Health Center is hosting  free vaccine clinics at 3050 International Blvd. Appointment only. Call 510-434-5360.

It is also available to anyone 18 or older who lives in the following zip codes:

  • 94607 (West Oakland/Chinatown)
  • 94601, 94621, 94544, 94606 (Fruitvale/East Oakland)
  • 94578, 94603, 94541, 94580 (Ashland/Hayward)

By appointment only. Call 510-434-5360.

Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center in Hayward is currently vaccinating Alameda County residents and patients. If you are not a patient, text 510-800-7198 and TVHC will send you a link to their waitlist for a vaccine appointment. If you are a patient, text 510-471-5880 to schedule your vaccine appointment.

Hayward Adult School is also offering free COVID-19 vaccines to eligible Alameda County residents at 22100 Princeton St., Hayward. Appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday. 

Appointments can be made at or by calling 510-208-4VAX. Drop-in appointments are also available, but only to people who live and work in the following zip codes: 94541, 94544, 94545, 94577, 94578, and 94580. 

La Familia is hosting a vaccine clinic from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It’s open to anyone ages 16 and up who lives or works in Alameda County. Appointments can be made by calling 510-397-8696, but first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Umoja Health will be offering a pop-up vaccine clinic from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

More information.


John Muir Health in Walnut Creek and Contra Costa County is currently vaccinating eligible John Muir Health patients. The HMO says it will reach out to eligible patients on their MyChart account. More info here.

Sutter Health is currently vaccinating eligible patients, though first-dose appointments are hard to get. Patients can book appointments through My Health Online or by calling 844-987-6115.

Kaiser Permanente is currently vaccinating its members. If you are eligible for a vaccination but not a member, you will need to obtain an appointment, if available, and a medical record number by calling Kaiser at 866-454-8855. Kaiser recommends checking back on its website for updates.

Alameda Health System

Alameda Health System is offering vaccines to AHS patients who are 12+. The vaccine are being offered at all four AHS Wellness Centers:

· Highland Campus: 1411 E 31st St., Highland Care Pavilion, 3rd floor

· Eastmont Wellness: 6955 Foothill Blvd #200

· Hayward Wellness: 664 Southland Mall, Hayward

· Newark Wellness: 6066 Civic Terrace Ave, Newark 

Make an appointment by calling 510-437-8500.

Veterans Affairs

On March 24, President Biden signed the SAVE LIVES Act into law, which allows the U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all veterans, their spouses, and caregivers. Before that, the VA was only giving vaccines to veterans receiving care through their VA and caregivers enrolled in its Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). 

The VA has a sign-up form for veterans, their spouses and caregivers who are not receiving care through the VA to let them know when a vaccine appointment is available

The Oakland VA Outpatient Clinic is hosting a clinic using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 15, for veterans, spouses, or caregivers, at the West Oakland Senior Center, 1724 Adeline St. Walk-ins are available but appointments are encouraged. To schedule an appointment call: 800-382-8387.

Retail pharmacies

Rite Aid locations in the Bay Area are offering shots of the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to anyone 18 or older. Appointments can be made online.  Those 12 and older looking to get a Pfizer shot, should call the nearest pharmacy offering the shot to make an appointment. More info here.

Safeway is offering vaccines in Alameda County to those who are currently eligible. More info here.

CVS pharmacies: CVS is offering vaccines to currently eligible residents at Oakland locations. More information here.Walgreens is offering appointments to people who are currently eligible in California. More info, and the option to create an account to see appointments, here.

Is it free to get vaccinated?

Vaccinations are free for all, including people who do not have health insurance. Vaccine providers can recoup fees from private and public insurance companies, and from a government fund for people without insurance, according to the CDC.

How do I prove I’m eligible?

According to county spokesperson Neetu Balram, proof of age is required for people age 16 and up, but this proof also doesn’t have to be government issued. Sites are accepting parental permission as proof for minors. “We recognize ID could be a barrier to getting vaccinated as we move along in the phases, so we are reviewing how else we can ask individuals to attest that they are in the phase that is being vaccinated and not jumping the line,”  Balram said early into the vaccination effort.

I need help getting to my appointment.

East Bay Paratransit: For those who are eligible for the service, East Bay Paratransit will transport people to their vaccination appointments at the Coliseum with proof of the appointment from the MyTurn system for the standard fare

In a partnership with the White House, Lyft and Uber are giving out codes for free rides to vaccine appointments up to $15 dollars each way. The offer begins May 24 and goes until July 4, when the Biden Administration wants at least one vaccine dose in 70% of American adults. Click for more details from Lyft and Uber.

San Leandro: The city is providing free on-demand rides to vaccine appointments in Alameda County from the city’s FLEX RIDES program to any San Leandro resident aged 60 or older. Residents can call 510-577-3462 or email to join the FLEX RIDES program.

Caltrain: Caltrain is offering free rides for those who live or work in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties headed to or from vaccination appointments. All you have to do is show the conductor proof of the vaccine appointment or a vaccination card. More here.

How can teachers get vaccinated?

Teachers and others who work in education and childcare became eligible for vaccination on Feb. 8 under Phase 1B.  

According to the county, that includes: 

  • Staff in formal and informal childcare/daycare 
  • Pre-kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high schools 
  • Colleges, universities, junior colleges, community colleges, and other postsecondary education facilities 
  • Technical and trade schools 
  • Educational support services and administration 
  • Student care, including school bus drivers and monitors, crosswalk guards, etc.

I have disabilities. What resources are available for me?

Senior and Disability Action, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, held a vaccine town hall for Alameda County seniors and residents with disabilities. Watch the recorded town hall, with captions here

At Alameda County’s county-run vaccination centers, and mass vaccination sites like the Oakland Coliseum and the Alameda County Fairgrounds, accommodations will be made for people who use wheelchairs, and for people who are not able to leave their car. 

“We will have onsite staff to help with distancing and navigation of sites for those who have visual impairments,” said county spokesperson Neetu Balram. “Staff are also available onsite to support language and technology accessibility.”

The county is also reviewing its vaccination page to improve access for people with vision challenges.

I’m undocumented. Will I be able to get vaccinated?

You won’t need to be a U.S. citizen to receive the vaccine, per the county’s FAQ page.

How will unhoused people get vaccinated?

While the state’s vaccine guidelines do not give priority to homeless people, Alameda County has decided to begin vaccinating people who live in shelters and encampments.

Individuals who are experiencing homelessness should be able to sign up for an appointment on their own, as the county has communicated to all vaccination providers that unhoused people qualify for the shot, said county vaccine director Dr. Kathleen Clanon.

But in most cases, patients are required to show photo identification with an address when they receive a shot, information that vaccine clinics and pharmacies use to bill the government. Many unhoused people, who don’t have a permanent address, don’t have the requisite IDs. We’ll continue to keep an eye on this situation and report back here with more information.

Everyone in a Project Roomkey hotel shelter has been offered or given a vaccine, and residents at other shelter sites will be given a chance in the coming weeks.

The county says it’s working on bringing mobile vaccine clinics to homeless camps as well. “What we’re worried about is making sure we’re not wasting vaccines,” said Clanon. “That’s liquid gold. We want to make sure we have a plan to meet people at the encampment, and bring it there safely.”

I’m not eligible right now. How can I find out when it’s my turn?

All California residents age 12 and up became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine on May 12. Anyone age 16 up became eligible for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on April 15.

The statewide sign-up form is called My Turn. It asks for information like the county you reside in, your job sector, age, and underlying health conditions. My Turn is being used to help counties and cities schedule vaccine appointments. 

Alameda County also has three sign-up forms for residents, employers, and healthcare providers to get notified when they’re eligible for the vaccine. 

The form asks for basic information, like your name, age, zip code, insurance provider, and contact information. The Alameda County Public Health Department will reach out to you when it’s your turn to get vaccinated.

Form for residents 

Spanish speakers: form for residents 

Chinese speakers: form for residents

Form for employers

Form for healthcare providers

The forms are not currently available in formats for people with hearing and visibility challenges. 

I’ve gotten my first dose. Now what?

According to Dr. Tri Do, Alameda County’s community health clinic coordinator, if you received your first dose of the vaccine before Monday, January 11, you do not need to make an appointment to receive your second dose. Simply return to the location where you received your first dose on the date listed on your vaccination card.

You should generally aim to receive your second dose within a few days of the due date on your vaccination card. But according to the CDC, if you encounter extreme circumstances that prevent you from getting your second dose on or within a few days of this date, you should still get your second dose, which will work if administered up to 6 weeks after the first dose. 

Many systems, including the state’s MyTurn system, book first and second doses at the same time.

I lost my COVID-19 vaccine card. Now what?

Everyone who gets vaccinated also gets a paper 3-by-4-inch “COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card” from the CDC and Health and Human Services. It’s a quick way to prove someone has been partially or fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

But many people have already reported lost and damaged cards. Should you need a new copy of your immunization card, the first place to check should be where you received your shots, whether that be a clinic, pharmacy or hospital. This could also include groups that hosted a community pop-up clinic. Your vaccine information is entered into the California Immunization Registry, which your doctor can access to show you’ve had your shots, should you need to prove you’ve been immunized against COVID-19. You can request a release of your entire vaccination record by using this form, but the state will not issue you a new CDC vaccination record card.

How is the county tracking vaccinations?

The county has a vaccine dashboard, breaking down distribution by dose, city, age, race and ethnicity, and gender. The page will be updated weekly. 

How can I volunteer with the vaccine effort?

The state is recruiting medical and non-medical volunteers to help with the vaccine through its My Turn Volunteers program, which launched March 5. Volunteers who work four hours or more may then qualify to be vaccinated themselves, although the state says this is not guaranteed. As of March 11, no non-medical volunteer positions were listed in Oakland. 

The county is also seeking medical and non medical volunteers. Non-medically trained volunteers can volunteer only through the county. Medically trained volunteers can either sign up with the state’s California Health Corps or the county. Please note that criminal background checks will be performed on all volunteers who sign up with the county. 

The county is looking for: doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, medical assistants, phlebotomists, respiratory techs, ER techs, X-ray techs, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, social workers, registration clerks, nutrition staff, housekeeping, IT, security, maintenance, etc. There may also be a need for translation services.

County form for both non-medically and medically trained volunteers

California Health Corps volunteer form (medically trained only)

You can also learn more about volunteering with VaccinateCA, a volunteer-run effort to help people find open vaccination appointments, here.

What vaccines are available, and are they safe?

The most commonly used vaccines to date are the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Both require two-doses to be effective and  they protect up to 95% of vaccinated people from a severe COVID-19 illness, and nearly everyone from disease severe enough to require hospitalization about two weeks after the second dose. Doses should be given about three weeks apart. 

The latest vaccine to get FDA approval is made by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, although it’s commonly referred to as the “Johnson & Johnson vaccine.” California and other states “paused” using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 13 following warnings from the CDC and FDA following reports of extremely rare cases of blood clots: 15 cases in women in nearly 7 million doses delivered.

“People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider,” the statement says.

In early March, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state had received 21,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with 10,500 to be administered at the Coliseum mass vaccination site. 

But on April 23, a CDC panel found the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks of the clotting, namely against a virus that’s still infecting tens of thousands of Americans a day.

All of the vaccines have been deemed safe, but some side effects—like soreness in the arm, flu-like symptoms, or feeling tired the day after injection—have been reported.

Here are the FDA’s factsheets that offer more details:

Is it free to get vaccinated?

Vaccinations are free for all, including people who do not have medical insurance. Vaccine providers can recoup fees from private and public insurance companies, and from a government fund for people without insurance, according to the CDC.

VaccinateCA Dashboard: a resource created by volunteers to track vaccine availability across the state. The dashboard is organized by region, including the Bay Area, and updated every day.

FAQs page on Alameda County’s Department of Public Health website: answers questions from the community including: What do the vaccine phases mean for me? What should I do while I wait to be vaccinated? Should I get the vaccine if I have an allergic reaction to another vaccine?

Community Advisory Vaccine Group: an ad-hoc countywide group of doctors, nurses, childcare providers, disability advocates, public health officials, teachers, and church and community leaders. The group was created to share information about the COVID-19 vaccines, build trust with communities, and coordinate messaging about the vaccines. The group plans to meet bi-weekly through spring 2021 every other Tuesday. All meetings are open to the public. The next dates are May 18 and June 1 and 15.

CDPH Vaccine Allocation Guideline: the county is following the state’s department of public health recommendations for vaccine allocation.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guideline: “When Vaccine is Limited, Who Should Get Vaccinated First?” is the CDC’s page for vaccination prioritization. There’s an option to sign for email updates.

Bay Area COVID Vaccine Waste Reduction Directory: Self-described “Bay Area Vaccine Hunters” have crowdsourced a guide for people who are hoping to get a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine that might otherwise end up in the trash. It lists a few places where vaccine distribution sites in Oakland can put people on a waitlist.

Bay Area Vaccine Notification: Bots scrape “more than 100 public and private vaccine locations” from healthcare providers to local pharmacies in the Bay Area and assemble them all on one feed on the Telegram app. 

This guide was originally published on Jan. 15, 2021. The Oaklandside’s reporting team will be continuing to update this post once a week or more. Freelance contributor Sarah Belle Lin contributed to this guide through Feb. 17.

Sarah Belle Lin

Sarah Belle Lin is an independent journalist and photographer based in the East Bay.