Everything You Need to Know About Getting the Covid-19 Vaccine in Marin County: How, When, Where and What It’s Like

covid vaccine appointments, covid 2021

The Covid-19 vaccine became available late last year, yet many people still have a lot of questions about getting vaccinated. Am I eligible yet? Where can I get vaccinated? What are the side effects? If I’m fully vaccinated, can I hug my family members and friends? 

The good news is, vaccine supply has significantly increased in recent weeks, expanding access. More than 7.5 million vaccine doses have already been administered in California, and more than 130,000 in Marin County. Another incentive to make an appointment: The vaccine is free for residents of Marin County, and no insurance is required.

Information changes daily, but we’ve rounded up the best resources for residents of Marin County right now, including tips for booking and what you need to know before you arrive at your appointment.

Who is eligible for the Covid-19 Vaccine in Marin County?

As of today, Marin County is accepting vaccination appointments in Phase 1A and 1B:

  • Residents age 50 and older
  • Those 16 to 64 with severe, high-risk medical conditions or disabilities
  • Workers in Marin County in the following industries: healthcare, food service and agriculture, education and childcare, emergency services, and transportation services (public transit workers)

On April 15, however, all Californians ages 16 and older will be eligible to get the vaccine, aligning with President Biden’s promise to make all Americans eligible by April 19.


You can register for updates on eligibility here:
Marin Health and Human Services

Booking your appointment 

There are multiple options for making your free Covid-19 vaccine appointment — the tricky part for most is getting online and securing a time. In general, appointments are released around 6 a.m. and sometimes midday, and it helps if you create an account and are logged in on website first. Once you’re booked for your first dose, your second dose will be scheduled at the same site (sometimes you book this at the same time as your first dose).

Here are some vaccination sites serving Marin County residents:

Public Health

Marin County Public Health (at Marin Center and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal)

Hospitals, Clinics, and Medical Providers

Kaiser Permanente

Sutter Health

MarinHealth Medical Network



CVS Pharmacy

Golden Gate Pharmacy

Pharmaca Integrated Pharmacy

Rite Aid



Vaccine sites outside of Marin County

FEMA (Oakland Coliseum)  / SFDEM (Moscone Center)

Veterans Administration (VA)

Healthcare Provider

Some providers do have access to vaccines, and will be in touch with patients who are eligible. If you have any doubt, it can’t hurt to call your physician. However, you’re likely better off securing your own vaccine appointment through one of the above options rather than waiting for a call from your doctor.

What to bring to your vaccination appointment

Be prepared! No matter where you’re scheduled, you will need a few items:

  • Your mask
  • Government-issued ID (Drivers license, passport, etc.)
  • Insurance card (the vaccine is at no cost, but requested at some sites)
  • Consent paperwork (provided when you book your appointment, or you can arrive early and complete on premise)
  • Essential worker verification (if applicable)
  • Proof of residence (for some locations), such as a utility bill
  • Registration code or voucher (if applicable)
  • Confirmation email 

If you have a preexisting condition, you may wonder if you need a doctor’s note. The answer comes down to this: It’s basically on the honor code. This doesn’t mean you should claim to have heart disease when you don’t, but there is no way for staff to validate you have a certain condition, as not all residents have access to a doctor to write up that note. If you have documentation of your condition from your doctor, it can’t hurt to bring it along. But if you don’t qualify yet, the vaccine will be open to all California adults by April 15, so our advice is to wait your turn.

What to expect at your appointment 

Every vaccination site is different, but in general it’s a good idea to arrive at least 15 minutes early and be prepared to wait. Make sure you have all of your materials ready the night before, including your confirmation email printed or ready on your phone.

Once you check in, your temperature will be taken and you will be given a Centers for Disease Control  (CDC) vaccination card that tells you what dose you’ve received. Make sure you keep this for the future, and bring it to your second dose appointment.

Before your vaccination, the healthcare worker will review the list of possible side effects from the vaccination. Once you receive your shot in your upper arm of preference, you will need to wait at least 15 minutes afterward in the monitoring area, just in case you have a severe reaction.

What are the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine?

Side effects vary from person to person, with some experiencing more after the second dose. If you’re hesitant to receive the vaccine because of possible side effects, it’s good to remember that having a sore arm or fatigue is not a dangerous “reaction,” but a positive sign that your system is responding well to the vaccine. And with such a large number of Americans being vaccinated, the CDC reported that out of 1.8 million Americans who got the Pfizer vaccine, only 4,300 total reported adverse effects. 

With that in mind, here are the common side effects:

  • Sore arm
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

If you’re worried about experiencing pain after the vaccination, it’s important to note that per the CDC, it’s not recommended to take over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen or antihistamines before vaccination unless it’s something you take regularly for other reasons. If you have any questions, always check in with your healthcare provider.

Difference between vaccines

No matter which vaccine you receive — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson Janssen — they are all approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19. The biggest difference is that Johnson & Johnson comes in one dose, while Pfizer and Moderna require two doses (at three weeks and four weeks, respectively). Most clinics had not previously been offering the single dose, but production has ramped up in recent weeks.

You should receive your second shot as close to the recommended interval as possible at your original vaccine location, however your second dose may be given up to six weeks after the first dose if necessary. It’s also important that you second dose is the same type of vaccine as your first dose.

You’re fully vaccinated. Now what?

Two weeks after your second dose or after the single-dose vaccine, you’re considered fully vaccinated. This gives your body time to build protection, which is standard after any vaccination. You may be wondering what this means for visiting family, or doing activities that were limited before. 

Here are some guidelines:

  • Yes, you still need to wear a mask in public. You can remove your mask when around other fully vaccinated people, the CDC recently announced, if other distancing measures are in place.
  • Continue to practice good hygiene, including rigorous hand washing.
  • You can skip quarantine and testing if you are exposed to someone with Covid-19, but if you feel ill and have symptoms, you should get tested.
  • Follow CDC and health department travel guidelines.
  • The CDC states that eating indoors at a restaurant or going to a gym is a lower risk for fully vaccinated people. If you were staying home before, these types of activities may now be an option for you.
  • And yes, this does mean you can hug other vaccinated people, provided none of those people are at high risk of severe illness from COVID.

How you can help:

Navigating the vaccination process is a confusing and intimidating process for most, but especially for the elderly and those most vulnerable. Consider becoming a volunteer at a vaccination center (yes, you may be able to receive a shot!).  

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