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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Please call 310-784-6824 for the latest updates, or visit the LA Public Health website for more details.

How do vaccines work?

When you are exposed to an infection, your body develops antibodies that fight and clear the infection. When you receive a vaccine, your body recognizes the vaccine as foreign and makes antibodies that prevent you from getting infected with the disease in the future.

What types of COVID-19 vaccines are there?

There are several types of COVID-19 vaccines in development, including:

  • mRNA-based vaccines, which use a genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA) to build an immune response. mRNA vaccines can be developed and manufactured more quickly because they do not use live or inactive viruses. Two of the leading COVID-19 vaccine manufactures are using mRNA.
  • DNA-based vaccines are similar to mRNA vaccines, but they encode the viral instructions in DNA.
  • Inactive adenovirus vaccines use a weakened version of the adenovirus — a virus that causes common cold symptoms — that is taken from chimpanzees. One of the leading COVID-19 vaccines uses this platform.
  • Live attenuated vaccines and inactive virus vaccines use either a weakened, or attenuated, form of the virus or an inactivated virus which has been killed to prompt an immune response. Because a live or inactivated virus is used, these vaccines require extensive safety testing and manufacturing capabilities.

How were COVID-19 vaccines developed so quickly?

COVID-19 vaccines were developed under an accelerated vaccine development program called Operation Warp Speed, which was funded and facilitated by the U.S. government. Although no aspects of the vaccine development process were skipped, Operation Warp Speed eliminated lag time and allowed some steps to be completed simultaneously.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. Even under Operation Warp Speed, COVID-19 vaccines must adhere to the strict safety standards and follow all vaccine development protocols established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After a vaccine is approved, the FDA will continue to monitor its safety and effectiveness.

Do COVID-19 vaccines have side effects?

Vaccines are designed to generate an immune response, which can sometimes result in mild side effects. Experiencing side effects does not mean that you are infected with a less-severe version of the virus. Generally, vaccination side effects are mild and last only a day or two. Side effects may include:

  • Pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given
  • Mild fever
  • Chills
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint aches

Serious side effects and allergic reactions are rare and occur in 1 to 2 out of 1 million vaccinations.

When will a vaccine be available to the general public?

We understand our community is eager to learn when they will receive a vaccine as well. We don't know yet when the vaccine will be widely available and how members of the public will be prioritized. Our understanding is that after healthcare workers, the vaccine is expected to be offered to people age 75 and older and non-healthcare frontline essential workers. Federal, state and county public health authorities are establishing guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. When vaccines are available to the public, Torrance Memorial will follow these guidelines. We will share information as soon as we learn more. For more details about the distribution of the vaccine in Los Angeles County and to sign up to receive Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine email alerts, click here.

Torrance Memorial Physician Network is not involved in scheduling these appointments or administrating these vaccines.

What is Torrance Memorial doing to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine?

In preparation for a vaccine, Torrance Memorial has implemented a task force, comprised of emergency medical personnel, physicians, nurses, infection disease specialists, pharmacy, supply chain and administrators who are examining all necessary actions to facilitate storage, tracking and administering the vaccine. This team will use the guidelines set forth from federal and state agencies on the prioritization criteria and will develop specific details for our health system - both patients and employees.

Torrance Memorial Medical Center has the capacity to store a vaccine at ultra-cold temperatures. This will allow us to participate in the rollout of any EUA vaccines, including those which must be stored in freezers at a required minus 94⁰F. Our pharmacy and clinical teams have extensive experience handling and administering vaccines and therapies for infectious diseases and are prepared to support our COVID-19 vaccine efforts.

Torrance Memorial's COVID-19 Response

Is Torrance Memorial testing patients for COVID-19?

If you suspect you may have COVID-19, please contact your primary care provider who will determine if you should be tested. If you do not have a primary care provider, please visit one of our Torrance Memorial Urgent Cares. You also can call our COVID Health Line at (310) 891-6717.

The Torrance Memorial Emergency Department will not be testing general asymptomatic patients or patients with mild symptoms such as a cough or fever. Asymptomatic testing is generally part of a larger public health initiative led by government agencies, such as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, to help monitor the spread of COVID-19.

Torrance Memorial does not provide COVID testing for patients who:

  • Must provide proof of testing to an employer, summer camp, daycare, etc., for themselves or their family members.
  • Require proof of a negative COVID-19 when traveling to another state.
  • Seek “clearance” to travel, visit relatives or participate in activities that do not allow for physical distancing and proper masking.

Torrance Memorial will provide COVID testing for patients who:

  • Are preparing for a scheduled procedure at Torrance Memorial.
  • Have an order from a primary care provider.

If you do not meet the testing criteria, free testing is available through the LA County Department of Public Health and select CVS locations at

How is Torrance Memorial keeping patients safe?

With guidance from the infectious disease specialists, Los Angeles Department of Public Health and the CDC, Torrance Memorial has implemented many protocols and policies to ensure your safety.

  • Social Distancing - Implementation of many physical distancing measures throughout the hospital and in our physician offices.
  • No Visitor Policy - In accordance with CDC guidelines to protect our patients and staff, no visitors will be allowed for visits; unless needed for medical assistance.
  • Isolation of COVID Patients - We have implemented strict isolation practices to separate COVID-19 patients from other patients in our care.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance - Torrance Memorial follows CDC protocols for cleaning and disinfecting all patient and treatment areas. Rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between patients.
  • Face Covering/ Masks- In accordance with CDC guidelines to protect our patients and staff, masksare mandatory for all entering the facilities.
  • Mandatory Daily Screening and Temperature Checks - Every person who enters our facility goes through a daily screening and temperature check.
  • Hygiene Barriers- For your protection, we have installed barriers to ensure a safe visit.
  • Training - Our team has been training on developing protocol and following them strictly for maintaining a safe patient environment.
  • Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Each staff member on a patient’s care team has the proper PPE to ensure patient and staff safety. We have adequate supply of all the necessary PPE required for any medical or surgical need.

Is Torrance Memorial allowing visitors?

At this time, no visitors are allowed in any inpatient areas (with some exceptions). Click here to learn more.

Is it safe to go to the Emergency Department?

If you are having a medical emergency, please come to the Emergency Department or call 911. The Emergency Department has implemented various measures-such as isolating suspected COVID-19 patients and restricting all visitors-in response to COVID-19. Our emergency physicians and staff are highly trained in infectious disease prevention, and follow strict protocols to protect patients. Click here to learn more.

Is it safe to see my Torrance Memorial physicians?

Yes. During the ‘shelter in place’ order some offices were simply closed while others offered limited access. While emergency departments always remain open, and emergent surgeries performed, all elective visits, procedures and surgeries were canceled or postponed. We are progressing in our knowledge of mitigating risk to our patients and staff, and we now feel comfortable making the office more available for face-to face encounters. Our offices have taken measures to ensure both patient and medical staff safety, such as taking temperatures upon entering an office, and limiting the number of people in the reception, waiting and patient examination areas. All health care staff and patients must wear masks, and exam rooms are disinfected after each patient leaves.

Call your doctors and follow up on your regular screenings and treatments. For more information on the safety measures taken in our physician and ambulatory care offices, watch this video featuring Medical Director of the Torrance Memorial Physician Network, Dr. Robert Glazer.

Is it a good idea to go to the doctor’s office or other medical service offices such as imaging centers or labs?

All outpatient centers on the Torrance Memorial campus are taking the precautions listed above. The doctors are concerned that necessary ongoing and preventative care have been delayed or postponed because of the “sheltering at home” policy, and there can be unhealthy ramifications because of this. We intend to help our patients catch back up in our offices and certain patients can go back to regular doctor visits.

Is Torrance Memorial offering monoclonal antibody treatments?

Torrance Memorial is not offering monoclonal antibody treatments at this time.

What about alternatives to face-to-face doctor visits?

Our clinics have instituted Telehealth, which are online, virtual visits. Most chronic health conditions, and some acute ones, can be addressed during these virtual discussions. Nothing can truly take the place of the face-to-face visit, but this has demonstrated to be an excellent substitute. We are using Telehealth to complete the very important Medicare Senior Annual Wellness Exams (even by telephone, for those without WiFi). Our mental health colleagues are finding Telehealth services particularly suited for emotional issues. Although, Telehealth cannot replace all visits, we will continue to integrate virtual visits as appropriate during this time. Routine appointments for annual screenings, mammograms, colonoscopies and other procedures are still advisable. Follow the advice of your physician.

What types of regular checkups should patients schedule now?

All types of regular check-ups should be scheduled. Distancing requirements and the need to protect vulnerable groups, for now, necessitate some discretion as to who should come into the office at this time. For this reason, and to ensure the safety of all, please follow the advice of your physician or physician’s office on whether your appointment should be in person or a virtual Telehealth visit. Right now we are fully-operational, procedures and elective surgeries are currently being scheduled and we are allowing patients who require preoperative clearance into the offices. Also, since patients who are having significant pain or have had an injury need to be physically examined, these patients are being scheduled in the office. If there is a concern, the doctor’s office can speak with patients ahead of time to determine what would be in the patient’s best interest.

What can the patient do to make a visit to a doctor’s office safer?

Speak with your doctor’s office to familiarize yourself with how you can prepare for the visit ahead of time. Wear a mask, but if you don’t have a mask, one will be provided for you. If you are feeling any symptoms of COVID- 19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath or cold symptoms), call before your arrival and ask about the office’s policy and ability to accommodate you. If you need the assistance of a caretaker, or if the patient is a child, please bring only one caretaker. When you arrive at the doctor’s office, cooperate with entry procedures and answer all questions about your health, exposure and travel honestly.

General Questions

What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified at the end of 2019 during an investigation into an outbreak of respiratory illness and pneumonia in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 experience mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. At this time, there are no anti-viral medications currently available to treat COVID-19. Your health care provider may recommend rest, fluids and over-the-counter medicines.

What should I do if I suspect COVID-19?

Unless your symptoms are severe such as difficulty breathing and/or shortness of breath, call your health care provider first, rather than showing up to the physician’s office or emergency room. When you call or visit, be sure to note your symptoms, travel history and/or exposure to a person diagnosed with the virus. People who are experiencing mild symptoms may not need to visit their physician but rather stay home and self-isolate.

How do people catch COVID-19?

The virus is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread when someone touches a contaminated surface, such as a door handle.

How can I protect myself?

The following tips will help to prevent COVID-19 as well as other respiratory viruses:

  • Wear a face covering in public.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are showing symptoms of illness.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Cover your cough or sneezes with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow. Throw the tissue in the garbage and make sure to clean your hands afterwards.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Do I need to wear a face covering or mask?

CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

For more information on face covering and how to make them yourself, visit the CDC's website.

Should I be tested for antibodies?

Our infection prevention specialists and pathologists continue to monitor the latest on antibody, or serology, testing. You can hear from our Torrance Memorial pathologist, Dr. John Kunesh in this video on antibody testing.

The antibody test DOES NOT:

  • Diagnose if you are currently infected with COVID-19
  • Determine if you have immunity to COVID-19 and if you can be reinfected
  • Allow you to ignore safety measures such as physical distancing, wearing a face covering and hand washing.

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