COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A with Dr. John Swartzberg

by Kara Whittington, Family House Marketing Consultant

Published on March 17, 2021

Headshot of Dr. John Swartzberg MD, FACP, a white man wearing glasses, who is Clinical Professor Emeritus Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology

Dr. John Swartzberg MD, FACP is Clinical Professor Emeritus Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, and advisor to Family House SF on COVID-19 protocols

Dr. John Swartzberg is a physician who is board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases. For 45 years he has practiced clinical medicine and taught at UC Berkeley in the School of Public Health’s Division of Infectious Diseases & Vaccinology. Currently, he is Clinical Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. You can learn more about him here. As an advisor to Family House San Francisco, we were able to (virtually) sit down with him to ask a few questions many of us are wondering about as the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out across the country.

Question: What are the vaccine recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Dr. Swartzberg: The recommendation is that ideally most all people over 16 should be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This should be done as quickly as possible to save lives and end the pandemic. Later this year there will likely be sufficient safety and efficacy data to allow children to be vaccinated.

Q: Can you still get COVID if you have the vaccine?
Dr. Swartzberg: Yes, but it is highly unlikely. And, if you do get COVID-19, to date no one who has been vaccinated has had to be hospitalized or died.

Q: How long does it take for COVID-19 vaccine to take effect?
Dr. Swartzberg: Two weeks after the second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Two weeks after the one Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.

Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Dr. Swartzberg: Yes. While side effects have been seen, dangerous ones are very rare. For example, anaphylaxis (a dangerous allergic reaction that is treated with epinephrine) occurs in less about five people per one million vaccinees.

Q: Does it matter which COVID-19 vaccine someone gets?
Dr. Swartzberg: No. They all work incredibly well.

Q: What additional resources do you recommend if we want to learn more from the medical community?
Dr. Swartzberg: The Centers for Disease Control website is the best overall place to look for the latest data.

Please check with your county health department on vaccine rollout and protocols, as each county, and state, is handling vaccine rollout a bit differently. In California, you can also sign up for the California Department of Public Health’s service at MyTurn.Ca.Gov to be notified when your group is eligible for vaccination or