COVID-19 Vaccine Information



San Diego County School Employees to Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19: The County of San Diego, SDCOE, and California Schools Voluntary Employees Benefits Association (VEBA) have announced that vaccination of the county’s education staff will commence Saturday, Feb. 27. SDCOE and VEBA are following County of San Diego health guidelines to prioritize vaccination of education workers who work in schools located in the neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19. Learn more.


FAQ - COVID-19 Vaccine for School Employees

Which school employees are currently eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Employees assigned to schools (district, charter, and private) and district offices located in the second, third, and fourth quartiles of the state's Healthy Places Index (HPI) are eligible for vaccination at this time. You can find the HPI quartile for your schools on the Reopening Status and HPI Quartile by School tab on SDCOE’s school reopening dashboard.  

San Diego County, in coordination with SDCOE and California Schools VEBA and based on county health guidelines, has been prioritizing vaccinating education workers who work in schools and district offices located in neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19.

Leaders from schools in the eligible quartiles were provided information on how to submit eligible employees to VEBA. Once VEBA received submissions from qualifying schools, those employees received an email with details on how to make an appointment to be vaccinated. 

Employees of K-12 schools should not make appointments through the county’s reservation portals; only appointments made through VEBA’s portal will be honored.

Vaccines will subsequently be made available to employees working at schools in the second and first quartiles.

School nurses, health technicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other employees who as a function of the job assignment are required to care for children who become ill at school remain eligible to be vaccinated as health care workers as part of Phase 1A.

Individuals who qualify under another tier (not using their status as an education worker) should first contact their doctor or other medical provider if interested in being vaccinated for COVID-19. If you are not able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination from your doctor or other medical provider, healthcare workers and individuals in Phases 1A (all Tiers) and Phase 1B (all Tiers) may visit County vaccination sites. County vaccination appointment information can be found here.

To stay up to date, please visit the following: 


If schools don’t have nurses or health techs but have a secretary designated to assist ill children, can they get vaccinated?
Yes, if they are part of the health care team and giving direct assistance to sick kids. For individuals who fulfill this role, but it’s not indicated on their school I.D., we recommend bringing a letter signed by the school nurse stating that you care for ill children at the school. 


What’s the HPI? Who selected it as the basis of prioritization?
Following direction from the County of San Diego, SDCOE based prioritization on the Healthy Places Index (HPI), a report on the health of each census tract in California, where the lowest quartile (4) equates to a tract with the lowest combination of health, education, and financial conditions. The highest quartile is 1. SDCOE calculated the HPI quartile (1-4) for each school by converting the school's street address to a census tract using U.S. Census geocoding. If an HPI value couldn’t be found for a particular tract, the closest adjacent tract was used.


Why is school location a factor when determining vaccines for education workers?
Directing vaccination resources in this manner addresses COVID-19 health inequities and supports the schools in those communities, which have had transmission rates well above the county average and tend to serve students who are low-income, Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, or the children of essential workers.

Why are in-person education employees not being prioritized? 
In prioritizing, SDCOE is following criteria directed by the County of San Diego intended to address health equity in the face of limited vaccine supply. We are monitoring the situation and working closely with the County of San Diego and will adjust priorities as possible. In an effort to vaccinate school employees as quickly as possible, the county has committed to allocating 20% of available vaccine to education, which is twice the state requirement of Phase 1B - Tier 1.  


What is VEBA?
California Schools VEBA (VEBA), a non-profit health care trust, is committed to ensuring all education members have access to equitable and high quality care. As part of this mission, VEBA has volunteered to coordinate the aggregation and validation of K-12 and community college education employees in San Diego County.


Why are VEBA and SDCOE involved in vaccinating school employees?
Because of the large number of people in Phase 1b, the County of San Diego asked SDCOE and VEBA to assist in vaccination appointment scheduling.
SDCOE's role is to work with schools to notify them of eligibility based on criteria set by the County of San Diego. VEBA will serve in a volunteer capacity to maintain the eligibility portal and coordinate the appointment process for eligible employees. 

Are charter and private school employees eligible to be vaccinated through VEBA? What if my school or district is not a member of VEBA? 
All employees of TK-12 district, charter, and private schools are eligible to participate in the VEBA vaccination events, regardless of their insurance status. There is no cost for participating in a VEBA vaccination event and no insurance information will be collected.

With the opening of Phase 1B - Tier 1, community college employees are eligible to participate in the county vaccination sites. Following the TK-12 vaccination rollout, any remaining eligible community college employees will be able to enroll in a VEBA vaccination event. 


Is Kaiser offering vaccinations to school employees? Is there an accessibility code?
Any employee who wishes to get a vaccine under the criterion of “educator” must do so through the VEBA-administered vaccination process when they are eligible. SDCOE has not received any accessibility codes. 


Are employees that don’t work at a school site or directly with children eligible for the vaccine? Does it include both certificated and classified employees?
All school employees are included, whether they work directly with children or in a support role. This includes all permanent K-12 employees of a district or school, substitutes who regularly accept work at a school, temporary employees, student teachers, and the employees of third-party contractors who are regularly engaged in in-person work with children on school campuses. 


Will the vaccine be mandatory for school employees?
The decision to require that employees be vaccinated is one that can only be made at the local level. School leaders should consult their legal counsel for guidance on this issue.


Where will vaccination appointments be available?
As of Feb. 25, 2021 VEBA will be working with UC San Diego Health and Sharp HealthCare to offer appointments at the following locations:

  • UC San Diego Health Locations
    • Recreation, Intramural, and Athletic Complex (RIMAC) on UC San Diego Campus
    • CSU San Marcos
  • Sharp Healthcare Locations
    • Grossmont Center
    • Chula Vista Center
    • Coronado
    • Knollwood Building

How do I know if I’m eligible to make an appointment? How will I make an appointment?
Leaders of schools in qualifying neighborhoods will receive an email from SDCOE with details on how to submit information on eligible employees to VEBA. Once VEBA receives submissions from qualifying schools, employees will receive a notification from VEBA with details on how to make an appointment to be vaccinated.


If school employees go through their health care provider to get the vaccine, how do they know if their health care provider has the vaccine available? Should they rely on their health care provider to notify them when the vaccine is available or should they contact them? 
Please call your health care provider or check their website for information on vaccine availability. 


What do school employees need to show as proof of their position in a district?

  • For health care workers at County sites: Employees should bring with them two forms of identification. A government issued photo ID and proof of employment in the form of a school ID badge, paystub, or letter from the school. Visit the County’s Vaccine Appointment website for more information.
  • Education employees at a VEBA vaccination sites: Employees will need to bring a form of documentation of employment to their appointment, such as a school ID, signed letter from the school employer on facility letterhead, or recent payment stub from your school.

Visit the County’s Vaccine Appointment website for more information.


Can we work with our local fire department to vaccinate school employees?
Schools may work with any provider to vaccinate school employees. We cannot ensure that local fire departments currently have the supplies or capacity to vaccinate school employees.


Who will notify school employees when the vaccine is available to them? How?
Initial communication about vaccine eligibility will come from the San Diego County Office of Education. Once districts/schools start the process, they will work directly with VEBA, and communication will come from leaders at individual school districts, charter, and private schools.  SDCOE and the County will continue to provide information about the process to school leadership so they can share with staff. The County will keep its website updated and staff can check that regularly.  Also, the county communicates with the districts and provides Tuesday Telebriefings for K12 schools at 10am, weekly press conferences, news stories, and text alerts. SDCOE will continue providing information to school leadership so they can share with their staff.


Do school staff need to continue participating in COVID-19 testing after they are fully vaccinated?
Yes, testing is still necessary. Currently authorized vaccines have demonstrated very high levels of effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 symptoms, but studies are underway that prove they can also prevent transmission of COVID-19. Both currently approved vaccines do NOT use the live virus that causes COVID-19 so there is no chance of receiving a false positive after being vaccinated.


Do I have to wait awhile after receiving the vaccine like I do with the flu shot?
There is a 15-minute observation period that is standard after receiving any vaccine (not just for COVID-19) that still applies to people with no contraindications. If there is a history of allergic reaction, 30 minutes. Please discuss with your provider if you have a history of severe reactions. 


Will school nurses be vaccinating school employees?
There are no plans for school nurses to vaccinate school employees


Will children be vaccinated against COVID-19?
At this time, the available vaccinations are approved only for individuals 16 and older. Children 16 and older will be vaccinated according to the County’s phased plan. We do not have a clear timeline for when children under 16 will be able to get vaccinated. Clinical trials are currently under way for children ages 12-17. Clinical trials have not yet started for those under 12 years of age.


Should I be vaccinated if I have any pre-existing conditions or special health considerations? 
Please review the CDC’s list of clinical considerations prior to receiving the vaccine. Due to being at increased risk of severe COVID-19, those with underlying conditions are generally strongly recommended to receive the vaccine.


If all of a school’s employees are fully vaccinated, can they drop physical distancing in classrooms?
No. The state’s current requirements apply to all schools and does not differentiate based on the vaccination status of a school’s employees.
Current vaccines have demonstrated high levels of effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 symptoms, but they have not yet been proven to prevent infection or transmission of COVID-19 in those who are vaccinated. There is also some concern about the efficacy of the vaccines against COVID-19 variants that have or may emerge.

Visit the County of San Diego schools site for additional vaccine-related FAQs.

General Information About the Vaccine

Answers to these questions are provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please visit their website for additional details. 

What are the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. All vaccines that are in development are being carefully evaluated in clinical trials and will be authorized for emergency use only if they make it substantially less likely you’ll get COVID-19. Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Learn more from the CDC.


Where can I learn more about the vaccines currently available for COVID-19?
The CDC has information about the different types of vaccines currently available.


How does the vaccine work?
Please visit the CDC’s website for details. 


Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 so a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines


Are two doses of the vaccine necessary? 
COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. Two doses are needed for the vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Depending on the specific vaccine you get, a second shot 3-4 weeks after your first shot is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer against this serious disease. The vaccine produced by Janssen/J&J is administered as a single dose. Learn more about the benefits of getting vaccinated.

If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available?
COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated.

However, anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.

Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the months after initial infection. Therefore, people with a recent infection may choose to delay vaccination for a few months, if desired.
When will booster doses be needed?

The need for and timing of booster doses for the COVID-19 vaccines has not been established. No additional doses beyond the single dose or two-dose primary series are recommended at this time. 

Why would a vaccine be needed if we can do other things, like physical distancing and wearing masks, to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading?
Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

Is immunity better achieved with natural infection or the vaccine?
The vaccine is the safest way to acquire immunity to COVID-19. See benefits of getting vaccinated. Some not hospitalized still have long term effects, which range from annoying to clinically meaningful.

Do I need to continue wearing a mask, physical distancing, hand washing, and following coughing and sneezing etiquette after I have been fully vaccinated?
Yes. The vaccines that have been approved have proven to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms. It is not known at this time if they actually prevent people from becoming infected with or transmitting the virus to others.

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