COVID-19 vaccination is one of the most important tools to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The State is prioritizing vaccines for equitable distribution to everyone in California who wants it. We expect to have enough supplies to vaccinate most Californians in all 58 counties by summer 2021.

On this page you will find:

COVID-19 vaccines are here

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines. More vaccines may be authorized early this year.

Learn more about FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines and watch a video on what an EUA is.

Vaccine safety is a top priority

COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA have been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials.

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Learn how the federal government is working to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

California formed a Scientific Safety Review Workgroup of experts to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. This workgroup has confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA are safe and effective.

How they work

Vaccines help our immune system fight infections in the future. COVID-19 vaccines will protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19 without having to get the illness. 

It typically takes a few weeks after the last dose in a series to become fully protected. On the days after taking the vaccine, you may have a sore arm, aches, fatigue or fever, but these are not harmful. These symptoms signal that your immune system is developing protection from the virus. 

Benefits of getting vaccinated

COVID-19 vaccines are meant to prevent you from getting COVID-19 and from spreading it to others. The ability of COVID-19 vaccines to protect us from spreading the virus to others is not yet known, but is being studied carefully.

Read more at CDC’s Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine.

California’s vaccination plan

California is allocating COVID-19 vaccines as they become available to ensure equitable distribution. Initially vaccination was limited to healthcare workers and long-term care residents.

The next to be vaccinated will be individuals who:

  • Have higher risk for severe disease or death (due to age or other factors)
  • Are unable to work at home
  • Live or work in geographic areas that have been highly impacted
  • Are most likely to spread disease to other workers or to the public

These individuals will be prioritized as follows:

Phase 1A

About 3 million people

  • Healthcare workers
  • Long-term care residents

See CDPH Allocation Guidelines for Phase 1a

Phase 1B

1B Tier One:

  • Individuals 65 and older
  • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
    • Education and childcare
    • Emergency services
    • Food and agriculture

1B Tier Two:

  • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
    • Transportation and logistics
    • Industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities and services
    • Critical manufacturing
  • Congregate settings with outbreak risk:
    • Incarcerated
    • Homeless

Phase 1C

  • Individuals 50 -64 years of age
  • People 16-49 years of age who have an underlying health condition or disability which increases their risk of severe COVID-19
  • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
    • Water and wastewater
    • Defense
    • Energy
    • Chemical and hazardous materials
    • Communications and IT
    • Financial services
    • Government operations / community-based essential functions

Vaccination plans for each county are available at county websites.

Vaccine prioritization and outreach by providers

All vaccination providers should:

  1. Continue vaccinating all persons in Phase 1A
  2. Begin vaccinating persons 65 years of age or older. Based on available supply, prioritize and target outreach efforts as follows:
  • Age, with persons 75 years or older prioritized due to increased risk of mortality and other severe disease
  • Occupational risk exposure, with individuals prioritized who work in sectors with high occupational exposure as listed in Phase 1B, Tier 1
  • Residence in vulnerable communities, as determined by the California Healthy Places Index or comparable local health department knowledge, to address equity and communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic

Moving through vaccine phases

Health departments and providers may offer doses promptly to people in lower priority groups when:

  • Demand subsides in the current groups, or
  • Doses are about to expire according to labeling instructions, or
  • Doses have been thawed and would otherwise go to waste

To achieve the timely and maximum vaccination of Californians, CDPH recommends the use of 50 percent of doses providers have received as second doses to vaccinate individuals as described above.

Read CDPH Recommendations for Moving Through Vaccine Phases and Tiers.

How vaccine decisions are made

A group of experts and a group of community representatives work together to make sure vaccines are prioritized fairly.

Drafting Guidelines Workgroup

A Drafting Guidelines Workgroup is developing California-specific guidance for the prioritization and allocation of vaccines.

See CDPH’s Workgroup page for the vaccine’s phasing and resource materials.

Community Vaccine Advisory Committee

The Community Vaccine Advisory Committee is providing input and feedback to the planning efforts and resolving barriers to equitable vaccine implementation and decision-making.

See CDPH’s committee activities page for the upcoming meeting schedule and all meeting materials.

Vaccine allocation and administration

Once a week, the federal government announces anticipated allocation figures for each state. The number of allocated doses provided by the federal government is a projection and subject to change. Local California providers are required to place their orders which are reviewed by the state and submitted to the federal government. The federal government then authorizes the order and submits the request to the manufacturer. The manufacturer or central distributor ships the vaccine directly to the local California provider. It can take a week or longer between when doses are allocated by the federal government to when they arrive at public health offices or providers and are ready for administration.

Vaccination progress dashboard

Spread the news about the vaccines

Share that vaccination against COVID-19 is here. Visit the COVID-19 Response Toolkit page to find images and videos you can post on social media.

Questions and answers

Vaccination planning

Getting vaccinated

What to expect after vaccination

Vaccine limitations

Vaccine choices and effectiveness

Stay informed