The COVID-19 vaccination plan is evolving. This FAQ will be updated frequently
as information changes and becomes available.
How do vaccines work?
When you are exposed to an infection, your body develops antibodies that
fight and clear the infection. When you receive a vaccine, your body recognizes
the vaccine as foreign and makes antibodies that prevent you from getting
infected with the disease in the future.
What types of COVID-19 vaccines are there?
There are several types of COVID-19 vaccines in development, including:
mRNA-based vaccines, which use a genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA) to build an
immune response. mRNA vaccines can be developed and manufactured more
quickly because they do not use live or inactive viruses. Two of the leading
COVID-19 vaccine manufactures are using mRNA.
DNA-based vaccines are similar to mRNA vaccines, but they encode the viral instructions in DNA.
Inactive adenovirus vaccines use a weakened version of the adenovirus — a virus that causes common
cold symptoms — that is taken from chimpanzees. One of the leading
COVID-19 vaccines uses this platform.
Live attenuated vaccines and inactive virus vaccines use either a weakened, or attenuated, form of the virus or an inactivated
virus which has been killed to prompt an immune response. Because a live
or inactivated virus is used, these vaccines require extensive safety
testing and manufacturing capabilities.
How were COVID-19 vaccines developed so quickly?
COVID-19 vaccines were developed under an accelerated vaccine development
program called Operation Warp Speed, which was funded and facilitated
by the U.S. government. Although no aspects of the vaccine development
process were skipped, Operation Warp Speed eliminated lag time and allowed
some steps to be completed simultaneously.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Yes. Even under Operation Warp Speed, COVID-19 vaccines must adhere to
the strict safety standards and follow all vaccine development protocols
established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After a vaccine
is approved, the FDA will continue to monitor its safety and effectiveness.
Do COVID-19 vaccines have side effects?
Vaccines are designed to generate an immune response, which can sometimes
result in mild side effects. Experiencing side effects does not mean that
you are infected with a less-severe version of the virus. Generally, vaccination
side effects are mild and last only a day or two. Side effects may include:
- Pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given
- Mild fever
- Feeling tired
- Muscle and joint aches
Serious side effects and allergic reactions are rare and occur in 1 to
2 out of 1 million vaccinations.
When will a vaccine be available to the general public?
We understand our community is eager to learn when they will receive a
vaccine. We don't know yet when the vaccine will be widely available
and how members of the public will be prioritized. Our understanding is
that after healthcare workers, the vaccine is expected to be offered to
people age 75 and older and non-healthcare frontline essential workers.
Federal, state and county public health authorities are establishing guidelines
for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. When vaccines are available to the
public, Torrance Memorial will follow these guidelines. We will share
information as soon as we learn more. For more details about the distribution
of the vaccine in Los Angeles County and to sign up to receive Public
Health COVID-19 Vaccine email alerts,
What is Torrance Memorial doing to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine?
In preparation for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Torrance Memorial
has implemented a taskforce, comprised of emergency medical personnel,
physicians, nurses, infection disease specialists, pharmacy, supply chain
and administrators who are examining all necessary actions to facilitate
storage, tracking and administering the vaccine. This team will use the
guidelines set forth from federal and state agencies on the prioritization
criteria and will develop specific details for our health system –
both patients and employees.
Torrance Memorial Medical Center has the capacity to store a vaccine at
ultra-cold temperatures. This will allow us to participate in the rollout
of any EUA vaccines, including those which must be stored in freezers
at a required minus 94⁰F. Our pharmacy and clinical teams have extensive
experience handling and administering vaccines and therapies for infectious
diseases and are prepared to support our COVID-19 vaccine efforts.