The following content is created in partnership with County of Santa Clara. It does not reflect the work or opinions of the NBC Bay Area editorial staff. Click here to learn more about County of Santa Clara.

As vaccination efforts continue ramping up across the county and state, we’re finally starting to see the light at the end of the . . . pandemic. If you haven’t received your vaccine yet, it’s now easier than it was just a few weeks back. Gone are the days of constantly refreshing sites to book the first available opening.

While getting the vaccine may be much less trouble, you may still have concerns. Here’s how the vaccination process works at the County of Santa Clara.

1. You can get the vaccine if . . .

In Santa Clara County, anyone age 12 and older is eligible to receive the vaccine, explains Maribel Martinez, public information officer for the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department. Vaccines have been found to be safe and highly effective in protecting children as young as 12 in clinical trials.

If a pre-existing condition or a previous allergic reaction has you worried about side effects or complications, talk to your doctor. “Many healthcare providers are able to provide the vaccine,” Martinez explains. “So getting the vaccine at one of those locations would be a great option.”

2. Getting your shot is easy

You can either book an appointment or walk in to a vaccination location—keep in mind that you’ll need to check which locations allow walk-ins before heading there. And if you’re wondering where you can get vaccinated, the choice is pretty much yours. From government-run vaccine hubs to pharmacies, clinics, and medical providers, there’s a wide array of options.

And what happens if you or someone you know is homebound or has no way of reaching a vaccination site? “We’re providing free VTA transportation to and from your vaccine location,” Martinez notes. “We also provide vaccines to seniors and other homebound individuals. We will actually go to their homes and give them the vaccine.” The County of Santa Clara also has a series of mobile vaccination units, reaching all neighborhoods. 

3. The choice is yours

Most locations have all three FDA emergency use-authorized vaccines—and you can ask for the one you want. Keep in mind that all three COVID-19 vaccines are FDA-authorized and have shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials. All three are also up to 95 percent effective in protecting against virus.

4. The vaccine is cost-free to all

As the CDC clearly states, the vaccine is free to all people living in the U.S., regardless of immigration or health-insurance status. “Even if you don't have an ID—or perhaps don't have a legal residency or citizenship—you’re still eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge,” Martinez notes. “You’ll just need to go to a vaccination site, fill out a couple of forms that give us information about who you are, and authorize us to give you the vaccine.”

5. Some common misconceptions

There are some lingering questions about the vaccine and its risks. The most common:

  • Does the vaccine give you COVID? No. The vaccine “trains” your immune system to seek the spike protein found on the virus surface and destroy it.
  • Will the vaccine affect my fertility? “We have no concrete information that it impacts fertility at all,” explains Martinez. “And no other vaccines, like our flu shots, have had any impact on fertility,” In fact, pregnant women are getting vaccinated as well as those planning on getting pregnant to get additional protection. 
  • If I experienced side effects from the vaccine, does that mean I have, or recently had, COVID? Side effects, typically lasting no more than a day or two, come from your immune system’s response to the vaccine. The vaccine cannot actually give you COVID. And while some people have a very strong, immediate response (typically low-grade fevers, aches, and fatigue), others suffer no reaction whatsoever.

If you haven’t yet received your vaccine and would like to, click here to learn more about the vaccination process in Santa Clara County and where you can get yours.

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