COVID-19 Vaccine

As of March 15, 2021, individuals with Down syndrome & those with “developmental or high-risk disabilities that put an individual at especially high risk” are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in California. Many Special Olympics Northern California athletes may now be eligible.

Vaccines are one of the tools available to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Special Olympics Northern California is dedicated to providing you with the latest information and resources to protect our communities. We encourage everyone who has access to the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated. Read more about who is now eligible to receive a vaccine in California.

How to Receive the Vaccine

There are a few options for athletes, parents and caregivers to check if they are eligible to receive the vaccine and make an appointment.

  1. Talk to your doctor, pharmacy, or healthcare provider
  2. Visit and complete the required personal information. If you are eligible to be vaccinated, you will receive a list of available locations near you.
    For Santa Clara County Residents: Please visit the County website.
  3. Or call the California COVID-19 Hotline at (833) 422-4255.

If you are not yet eligible, you can register via the website or phone number to receive a notification for when it is your turn. Please talk to your doctor or healthcare provider with any specific questions.

What to Know Before Your Vaccine

Prepare for your COVID-19 vaccine with these helpful tips:

  • Make an appointment. Most COVID-19 vaccination sites require pre-registrations.
  • Bring any important paperwork with you. Some sites will require you to show a form of identification, like a driver’s license or an identification card with a photo.
  • Remember to bring water. You will be asked to wait in an observation area after your shot.
  • Wear your mask!
  • Some vaccines require that you get two shots, while others you will need just one. After your first shot, you will be told if you need another shot. It is very important to receive both shots, if scheduled, for you to be safe!

Vaccine at UCSF

What to Know for After Your Vaccine

After your shot, you will receive a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. This card will tell you which brand of vaccine you received and if you need a second dose. Don’t lose this card! Take a photo of it with your phone as soon as you get it so that you have the information stored. If you are told that you need a second dose, it is very important that you receive it on the assigned date. This will best keep you healthy.

Side Effects

Possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include:

  • Sore arm
  • Redness
  • Headache
  • Fever or chills
  • Upset stomach
  • Tiredness
  • Body aches

Side effects can happen after the first dose, after the second dose, or after both doses.

Side effects are normal, and are signs that the vaccine is working. To reduce discomfort in the area that you got the shot, apply a clean, cool washcloth to the area and moderately exercise your arm. If side effects don’t go away in about a week, or you have more serious symptoms, call your doctor or healthcare professional.

Continue Protecting Yourself & Others After Your Vaccine

You still need to protect yourself after you have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Wear your mask. Wash your hands often. Practice social distancing. Not everyone has received the COVID-19 vaccine, and you may still be able to spread the virus even if you cannot get infected yourself.

Special Olympics Northern California activities will remain virtual (no in-person events) until at least July 16, 2021. This is to best protect our athletes, families, volunteers and communities. Read about the Phased Return-to-Play Plan.

Vaccine at UCSF

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the COVID-19 vaccine?

A COVID-19 vaccine protects you from COVID-19. Vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses so your body will be ready to fight the virus, if you are exposed (also called immunity).

Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Yes. Special Olympics encourages everyone who has access to the COVID-19 vaccine, to get vaccinated. The vaccine will help protect you from getting COVID-19. If you still get infected after you get vaccinated, the vaccine works to prevent serious illness. By getting vaccinated, you also help protect people around you.

What if I have already had COVID-19?  Should I still get the vaccine?

Yes. We don’t know yet if people are protected from getting COVID-19 after they have had it. We do not know yet how long people are protected from COVID-19 after they have had it. More studies are needed to better understand this.

Why is it important for people with ID to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

People with ID are at higher risk of getting and dying of COVID-19 than the general population. The vaccine helps to reduce the risk of serious disease and death. 

Does Special Olympics require me to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

At this time, we are not requiring you to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, we are strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated to keep safe and save lives. People with ID are a high-risk group for COVID-19 illness, complications and death. We are working hard to help get access to the vaccine around the world.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

All the COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same safety tests as any other vaccines. Like all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines have been tested for safety before being authorized for use.

What is the best COVID-19 vaccine for me to get?

Different types of COVID-19 vaccines are available. All types of the vaccines will help protect you. More vaccines may be developed. Most of these vaccines are given in two shots, one at a time and spaced apart. The first shot gets your body ready. The second shot is given at least three weeks later to make sure you have full protection. If you are told you need two shots, make sure that you get both of them.

Vaccine at UCSF

Why is it so difficult to get a vaccine appointment now?

There are a lot more people who want the vaccine than the number of vaccines we have now. As more vaccine become available, more people will have the opportunity to have access to the vaccine.

Will the shot hurt or make me sick?

You might feel a slight pinch. There may be side effects, but they should go away within a few days. Possible side effects include a sore arm, headache, fever, or body aches. This does not mean you have COVID-19. These side effects are signs that the vaccine is working. If they don’t go away in a week, or you have more serious symptoms, call your doctor or healthcare professional.

In most cases, discomfort from pain or fever is a normal sign that your body is building protection. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider:

  • If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours
  • If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a 3-5 days

Should I wear a face covering/mask when I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Yes! You should wear a face covering whenever you are out in public.  Face coverings can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others.
  • If you show symptoms of COVID-19, wear a face covering.  Wearing this will help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

How do I get transportation to a vaccine site?

For current options, check with your healthcare provider, local health department, or local pharmacy.

If you receive Medi-Cal through a managed care plan, contact your plan’s member service department to request assistance for transportation to receive covered benefits. If you receive Medi-Cal through Fee-for-Service (FFS), you can access a list of Non-Medical Transportation (NMT) providers in your county and you can contact them directly to arrange transportation to your appointments. If there is not a provider in your area, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) can assist if you email them Please do NOT include personal information in your first email. DHCS staff will reply with a secure email asking for your information about the appointment. If you have a need for Non-Emergency Medical Transportation, please inform your medical provider who can prescribe this service and put you in touch with a transportation provider to coordinate your ride to and from your appointment(s).

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