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How to Access the COVID-19 Vaccine

If you’re caring for an aging or ailing loved one in 2021, you likely have a lot of questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Questions around vaccine safety, when you and your loved one can receive the inoculation, and how to go about doing so once you’re eligible. This article is meant to curate information on the topic and provide links for you to find further (up-to-date and accurate) information.

Note: Information surrounding vaccination as referenced in this article is subject to change. For the latest information, please click here.

Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine in Orange County

  • Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?

All vaccines administered in the United States (regardless of manufacturer) go through a rigorous approval process for safety and efficacy. The COVID-19 vaccines have received FDA approval (the FDA - Federal Drug Administration - is the government agency that oversees and regulates all vaccines in the United States). These same vaccines have also received approval from similar government organizations in the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, and many other countries around the world that have independently determined them safe and effective. Note: The FDA is NOT involved with the distribution or appointment process in any way, just approval. Beyond approval, the CDC website has federal distribution information.

  • What are the potential side effects and complications?

The vaccine has been shown to cause minimal-to-no side effects in most people. The side-effects most commonly include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, and a fever. In rare circumstances, a more serious reaction to the vaccine is possible. Click here for the CDC’s information page on potential reactions for more information.

When are My Loved One and I Eligible for the Vaccine?

In the state of California, there is a 4-tiered vaccine rollout plan. These tiers are intended to keep the supply and demand in tandem, while prioritizing those with the highest need first, keeping it as fair and equitable as possible.

At the time of writing, Orange County is in Tier 1A of the California vaccine rollout plan.

Note: The state (California Department of Public Health) has so far only defined the first of the four tiers - Tier 1 - which has two phases, A and B. Orange County is currently in tier 1A and has expanded on the state’s plan for this tier as defined below.

Tier 1A: Critical and Healthcare Workers

According to the Orange County Department of Health Information website, this means the following groups are currently eligible for vaccination:

In the State of California:

  • Healthcare workers. This definition was clarified by Orange County’s Department of Health to include those “persons at risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2 through their work in any role in direct health care or long-term care settings… and includes persons at direct risk of exposure in their non-clinical roles, such as, but not limited to, environmental services, patient transport, or interpretation”

  • Long-term care residents.

In Orange County Specifically:

  • Law Enforcement Officers. Officers in high-risk settings (cities with high infection rates) are eligible for inoculation in Orange County.

  • Persons aged 65 and older. Priority is given to those who are most vulnerable and with chronic health conditions.

For updates and information on the different phases and eligibility criteria as set by the state, please review the California Government tiered plan on their website or the Orange County Department of Health website.

How Can I Get Vaccinated?

To get vaccinated in Orange County, you’ll need to register with Click here to go directly to the registration page. Once you’re registered, you will be notified when an appointment becomes available. These appointments will be automatically given out by Othena in order of eligibility.

Where Can I Find More Information?

Here is a list of the sources mentioned in this article as well as additional resources:

  • CDC (Center for Disease Control) COVID-19 Vaccine Information

  • FDA COVID-19 Vaccine Information

  • County of Orange Health Department Tiered Vaccine Rollout Plan

  • State of California Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information

  • Othena Vaccine Appointment System

  • At-Home COVID-19 Test Kit (this source is recommended by the County of Orange Health Department)

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Resources

  • which offers information on the federal response to COVID-19.

Closing Thoughts

This pandemic has raised questions for families and caregivers around the globe. We hope you found the information you need to answer your COVID-19 questions.

For further reading and resources on caregiving and long-term care, we invite you to check out our library of information for family caregivers by clicking here. You are also welcome to give us a call at 800-543-8312 to find out more about how we can support you in your caregiving journey.


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