COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs


Updates on the availability and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to Occidental community members. For the most up-to-date information, visit our Vaccine Information page.

With the early phases of COVID-19 vaccinations underway across the country, we know students, staff and faculty have many questions about the vaccines and what it means for our community. Information from public health officials is still evolving and there is much we don’t know.  Priorities for distribution of the vaccine are established by the state and federal governments. Occidental College will follow the standards and processes set by the State of California. Los Angeles County is currently in charge of local distribution.

Emmons and other local college health centers are working hard to advocate for colleges to receive the vaccine as quickly as possible. We are tentatively planning on doing a vaccine sign-up to have us ready for roll out as soon as the vaccine is available to us for administration. Please note, however, you should absolutely get vaccinated sooner if you have the opportunity to do so through the County or other resources. We pledge to keep you informed on pertinent information related to vaccinations over the coming weeks, as well as updates from the COVID Operations Group and Health and Safety Committee's planning on this issue.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Will Occidental be providing the vaccine to staff and students?

Emmons Wellness Center has applied for vaccine administration. We do not yet know if Emmons will be authorized to administer the vaccine, and if so, when distribution of the vaccines to the Wellness Center will take place. 

How can I get the vaccine through Oxy?

If we receive doses, Emmons will provide communication and outreach directly to those individuals in our community who meet the prioritization criteria established by the State.

Who will get vaccinated? Will family members be eligible?

Once we become an approved vaccination site and know what our allocation is, we will provide more information about the scope of our vaccination program. We hope to provide vaccinations as widely as our allocation will allow.

What are the state’s prioritization criteria?

The State of California has established numerous phases, subphases and tiers for vaccine distribution. Los Angeles County is currently in Phase 1A, which includes  healthcare workers and long-term care residents. Phase 1B, Tier 1, includes essential personnel and those at risk of exposure at work. Many college staff may be able to get vaccinated in this tier, including on-site  essential workers and in-person faculty and researchers. Phase 1B, Tier 2 includes those at risk due to living in congregate settings. College students may be included in this group. 

Will I be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Emmons is currently reviewing the immunization policy for students. The COVID Operations Group and the Health and Safety Committee will be working to develop a policy for staff in the coming months. No decision has been made  yet as to whether the vaccine will be required for community members working on site. Until such time that we finalize a decision, we strongly recommend that you receive the vaccine when it is available to you. 

What should I expect when I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

As with most vaccines, the common side effects are pain and swelling on the arm where you got the shot. You may also have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These side effects usually go away in a few days.

The currently available vaccines are given in two doses, either 3 or 4 weeks apart, depending upon the vaccine received. Further information can be found on the CDC website about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I stop COVID testing once I have been vaccinated?

As the vaccines available do not provide 100% immunity to the virus, it is possible to still get infected after immunization. The Pfizer vaccine is up to 52% effective after the first dose and up to 92% effective after the second does. The Moderna vaccine is up to 65% effective after the first dose and up to 95% effective after the second.

It is also still unclear as to whether immunized individuals can carry the virus and pass it along to others. All community members with a regular on-campus presence are expected to continue with their COVID-19 testing twice weekly testing throughout the spring semester. 

Do I need to continue wearing a mask and social distancing once I have been vaccinated?  

As stated above, even with both doses and a high level of immunity, there is still a risk of infection and being a carrier that can pass the infection onto others who are not immunized. It is important that we maintain these practices to ensure the health and safety of ourselves and others.

Where can I get additional information on the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is extensive information on the CDC website about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

Eight Things to Know about the COVID-19 Vaccine

Adapted from 8 Things to Know about the US COVID-19 Vaccination Program found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website

  • The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top government priority.

  • COVID-19 vaccination, given in 2 doses, will help protect you from getting COVID-19. 

  • There is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, but the supply will increase in the weeks and months to come.

  • As of December 18th, 2020 the CDC and the State of California recommend COVID-19 vaccine be offered to healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.

  • Similar to other vaccines, you may experience some side effects after receiving the injection. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection.

  • The cost of the vaccine is covered by the government.

  • The first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer is being used under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Moderna vaccine was just approved on December 18th. Many other vaccines are still being developed and tested.

  • COVID-19 vaccines are one of many important tools to help us stop this pandemic.

For Individuals 65 or Older

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has opened COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to LA County residents 65 and older. To book an appointment, please visit VaccinateLACounty.com. Patients who do not have computer access may call 1-833-540-0473 between 8:00am – 8:30pm for assistance with making an appointment.

Please note that the vaccine supply is still extremely limited. LAC DPH continues to urge patience as they work urgently with our federal and state partners to expand capacity and supply in the weeks ahead. Please visit the Prioritization and Allocation webpage for more information on who is currently being offered vaccine and the estimated timeline for each phase.

The information above, and new information about vaccines as it becomes available, will be on the Oxy COVID-19 website. For any additional questions, please feel free to email us at emmons@oxy.edu.

Sara Semal, LPCC
Senior Director
Emmons Wellness Center