If you are sick or exposed

Isolation can end once you've had:

  • No fever for the last 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine (like Tylenol or Ibuprofen); AND
  • No symptoms are present; or symptoms are mild and improving

A negative antigen test is no longer needed to exit isolation.

If you have a fever, continue to isolate until 24 hours after your fever resolves. If you have symptoms other than fever, continue to isolate until symptoms are mild and improving.

For details, visit slopublichealth.org/iq.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19:

  • Watch for symptoms.
  • If you develop any symptoms, you should test and mask right away.  
  • If you do not have symptoms, and are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection and would benefit from treatment, you should test within 5 days.
  • If you do not have symptoms and have contact with people who are at higher risk for severe infection, you should mask indoors when around such people for 10 days. Consider testing within 5 days after your last exposure date and before contact with people who are at higher risk for severe illness.  
  • If you test positive, isolate and follow the instructions at slopublichealth.org/iq

For more information, visit slopublichealth.org/iq.

A small number of people who recover from COVID-19 may experience “COVID-19 rebound” in which symptoms return and you test positive again, after testing negative. This brief return of symptoms may be part of the natural course of the illness. Though reported cases have been patients who completed treatment of antiviral pills (Paxlovid), COVID-19 rebound may be independent of treatment with Paxlovid and regardless of vaccination status. If this happens to you, regardless of treatment or vaccination, you should re-start your isolation period and contact your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns. If you do not have a regular health care provider, you may contact the Public Health Department at 805-781-5500.


COVID-19 testing is a strong tool to help limit the spread of disease. Getting tested for COVID-19 helps you get connected with lifesaving treatment and also helps protect others. Knowing you have COVID-19 is important in case you experience Long COVID symptoms weeks to months later; it is important knowledge for getting help. Learn more at slopublichealth.org/testing.

Test are available at pharmacies, urgent cares, and other health care providers. You can also pick up at-home tests at no cost at our Public Health clinic locations. Learn more about COVID-19 testing locations at slopublichealth.org/testing.

If you prefer PCR tests for their reliability, but don’t want to pay out of pocket, an acceptable alternative is to use two rapid tests 48 hours apart. (This will help detect the virus if you are in fact infected). Learn how to find free at-home rapid tests at slopublichealth.org/testing

The expiration date has been extended by the FDA for many COVID-19 at-home rapid tests. You can check your test kit’s new expiration date by entering the brand and lot number here, bit.ly/check-tests.


Antiviral pills are available by prescription at local pharmacies and at participating Test to Treat sites. This medication has been shown to lower the risk of hospitalization and death in people who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness. They are most effective when taken in the first five days of illness -- the sooner, the better.

For more information, visit slopublichealth.org/treatments 

Many locations in SLO County offer treatment for COVID-19: urgent cares, pharmacies, other healthcare providers, and—for severe COVID-19—hospitals.

To find treatment quickly, consider visiting a participating Test to Treat location: rapid testing, medical consult, and prescription all in one visit. For more information, including locations, visit slopublichealth.org/testing.

If you cannot find quick care or cannot leave your home, you could book a free telehealth appointment.

Yes. If you do not have insurance or are unable to connect with your regular health care provider quickly, you should look into a free telehealth appointment. You may be prescribed Paxlovid and can have it picked up at the chosen pharmacy.

Test to Treat services include rapid testing for COVID-19, a medical consultation as appropriate, and Paxlovid anti-viral pills, if indicated.

A number of urgent cares around the county offer Test to Treat. These services are intended for people aged 50 and older and those with health conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19. If you are at high risk and experience symptoms, don't delay: this treatment must be started within five days of first symptoms. 

For more information, including locations, visit slopublichealth.org/testing.


To find a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages four and younger: 

  • Pediatricians: Your pediatrician's office is a great first stop. Call for an appointment or for answers to questions about the vaccine.

  • Pharmacies (ages 3+): Some pharmacies are offering vaccine to children as young as three. Check vaccinefinder.org: 1-800-232-0233. It is a good idea to call ahead to confirm details for any locations you find using these tools. 

  • Public Health Clinics: Our Public Health clinics have appointments available for this age group. Call (805) 781-5500 to schedule.

Getting vaccinated is the safest and best way to protect yourself against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are proven to be safe and very effective at preventing hospitalization and death. 

Vaccines induce our bodies to produce antibodies that fight the virus and help us from becoming infected and from becoming very sick. 

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines.

Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the US: Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax. Research shows all three vaccines provide strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

mRNA vaccine technology has been studied since the 1990s and works by teaching cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside your body. This immune response tells your body to produce infection-fighting antibodies, specifically designed to protect you from COVID-19.

mRNA vaccines do not affect or interact with DNA in any way, and break down and exit your body within a few days.

Both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines which have been fully approved by the FDA.

Mild side effects such as arm soreness, headache, or fatigue are normal following the vaccine. In most cases, it is okay to take an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help manage these types of symptoms after you get your vaccine. Talk more with your primary care doctor if you have concerns. 

Mild side effects after you get the vaccine are normal and indicate that your body is building protection against the virus.  

Common side effects include pain or swelling where you got the shot, fatigue, headache, or fever. These side effects should last no longer than a few days. To reduce pain or discomfort, you should talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. 

Read more about what to expect after getting the vaccine.  

While the COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19, it is still possible to become infected after being vaccinated. These are called “breakthrough” infections. 

In general, a person with a breakthrough COVID-19 infection: 
• Will experience less intense symptoms 
• Will be sick for a shorter period of time 
• Is less likely to be hospitalized 

Staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to maintain strong protection.  

For more information, visit slopublichealth.org/vaccines

Those currently infected with COVID-19 need to wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and they have met criteria to discontinue isolation.  Anyone who is currently sick with any illness should fully recover (wait at least 11 days) before getting a vaccine dose.

Still not sure if you are up to date? Learn more on our COVID-19 vaccines page.

If you have had an allergic reaction to other types of vaccines, you should consult your doctor to see if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated.

If you have had an allergic reaction to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Polysorbate is not an ingredient in either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine but is closely related to PEG, an ingredient in the vaccines.* (CDC – allergies

Yes—COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may be administered without regard to timing. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines on the same day.  

Learn more: Coadministration with other vaccines – CDC.  

Still not sure if you are up to date? Learn more on our COVID-19 vaccines page.

Vaccines: Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the US to help prevent you from getting COVID-19. For more information, visit slopublichealth.org/vaccines.

Personal protection measures: Help reduce your risk of infection. Learn more (CDC).

The CDC recommends all people ages 6 months and older get vaccinated against COVID-19, including people who were previously infected with the virus. COVID-19 vaccines can provide a higher, more robust, and more consistent level of immunity to protect people from COVID-19 than antibodies from infection alone. 

COVID-19 vaccination is effective in preventing reinfection in people who previously had COVID-19. One study, for example, showed that among people hospitalized with COVID-19, those who were previously infected with COVID-19 were 5 times more likely to get COVID-19 again if they were unvaccinated than people who were fully vaccinated. For that reason, even if you have already had COVID-19, vaccination is an important step to protect yourself and those around you.

Still not sure if you are up to date? Learn more on our COVID-19 vaccines page.


Everyone who has not had the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine should get one. The virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, and this vaccine is updated, like the flu shot, to provide targeted protection against the strains currently causing the most infections and hospitalizations. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional doses of the updated vaccines. On February 28, 2024, the CDC recommended that adults ages 65 and older receive an additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine as a spring booster. Learn more about staying up to date.

Updated COVID-19 booster vaccines offer specific protection against variants that are circulating now. Real-world evidence has shown that the boosters provide significant additional protection against symptomatic COVID-19.

For some viruses, the protection we receive from a vaccine starts to wane over time. An additional dose of vaccine may be needed to boost your immune response and make sure you are protected from the virus. Boosters are common for many vaccines, including the tetanus shot and the annual flu shot.

Learn more on our COVID-19 vaccines and boosters webpage.

Vaccine Appointments at Public Health

COVID-19 vaccine appointments at our Public Health clinics, now have an office fee that can be covered by insurance, including Medi-Cal and Medicare. Public Health clinics serve all patients, regardless of ability to pay.

In other settings like pharmacies and doctor’s offices, COVID-19 vaccines are billed to insurance. If you do not have insurance or your insurance won’t cover COVID-19 vaccines, call Public Health for support: 805-781-5500. 

You can access your digital vaccine records if you got vaccinated in CA. Printed vaccine records are available upon request at one of our vaccine-providing Public Health Clinics (please bring your photo I.D.).

You can book 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and booster-dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments by calling 805-781-5500 (Monday-Friday 8am-5pm). Or, request online and someone from our office will call to confirm your appointment with you. 

You can also visit vaccinefinder.org or text your ZIP code to ‘438829’ to find vaccine appointments available through other community providers and pharmacies. It is a good idea to call ahead to confirm details for any locations you find using these tools. 

For more information, visit slopublichealth.org/vaccines

Call Public Health at 805-781-5500, Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.

For more information, visit slopublichealth.org/vaccines

  • To show that you are eligible for vaccine, please bring documentation showing your age, such as a driver’s license, state ID, passport, birth certificate, etc.  
  • Please also print, fill out, and bring your completed screening form / forumulario de examen para vacunas with you to your appointment. 
  • Note: You do not need to be a United States citizen to receive the vaccine. We will never ask about citizenship or immigration status.    

For more information, visit slopublichealth.org/vaccines

While Public Health clinics have previously accepted walk-ins for COVID-19 vaccination, appointments are now required. Please call 805-781-5500 to schedule an appointment at Public Health, or request one online and someone from Public Health will call you to confirm the time and location. 

Individuals without access to a computer, email, or mobile phone can receive assistance by calling Public Health at 805-781-5500.

For more information, visit slopublichealth.org/vaccines

  • Residents 75 and older: Rides are available for eligible residents age 75 and older, as well as current RTA Runabout riders, who need door-to-door transportation to a vaccination site. Once you have booked your vaccine appointment, you will be given a phone number to schedule a no-cost roundtrip if you are eligible.
  • Residents with a disability: SLO County residents with a disability can get connected with transportation resources through the Independent Living Resource Center. Call their San Luis Obispo office at 805-462-1162 for more information about transportation resources that may be available to you.
  • Residents on CenCal/Medi-Cal: CenCal members can receive free/paid transportation to a County vaccine clinic if they have an appointment. Members must call 48-hours before the appointment is scheduled. Members and providers may contact Ventura Transit System (VTS) directly at (855) 659-4600 for transportation services, or call CenCal Health's Member Services Department at 1 (877) 814-1861 for assistance.
  • Residents who are homebound: Community members who are homebound and cannot easily visit a vaccination clinic can request a home COVID-19 vaccine where a nurse can provide vaccination at home. Request a visit by filling out this form: slopublichealth.org/homevaccine

Request a vaccine at your home, here.

Yes. It is safe and convenient to get both a COVID-19 vaccine dose and the annual influenza (flu) vaccine at the same appointment. Some doctor's offices, pharmacies, or even Public Health Clinics can administer both simultaneously, one in each arm. Let the provider know you would like both (it is helpful to bring your COVID-19 vaccine record card).

Pregnancy & Vaccines

Yes! COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause COVID-19 in anyone, including pregnant people and their babies. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain live virus. COVID-19 vaccines were developed using science that has been around for decades and they meet the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, which are monitored by the most intense safety monitoring activities in U.S. history.  

People who are pregnant are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with those who are not pregnant. Your baby can also have serious, even fatal, health problems from COVID-19 if you are infected during your pregnancy. For example, COVID-19 during pregnancy increases the risk of delivering a preterm or stillborn infant. (Adverse maternal, fetal, and newborn outcomes among pregnant women with SARS-CoV-2 infection: an individual participant data meta-analysis). 

Evidence continues to build showing that COVID-19 vaccination before and during pregnancy is safe, effective, and beneficial to both the pregnant person and the baby. Data on the safety of receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech), before and during pregnancy are reassuring. The benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. (Source: CDC)

Vaccination helps prevent COVID-19 infection and protects against severe illness, the kind that could harm your baby before birth. By preventing severe illness, the vaccine helps you give your baby a healthy start in life.  

Vaccination during pregnancy also builds antibodies that can help protect your baby after birth. A recent small study found that at 6 months old, the majority (57%) of infants born to pregnant people who were vaccinated during pregnancy had detectable antibodies against COVID-19, compared with 8% of infants born to pregnant people who had COVID-19 illness during pregnancy. Another study found that receiving a booster dose with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy significantly increased the levels of antibodies found in umbilical cord blood. This means that getting a COVID-19 booster during pregnancy can help further protect babies against COVID-19. 

Yes! If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant now, or plan to become pregnant in the future, you should strongly consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Getting vaccinated helps protect your reproductive health which could potentially be adversely affected by severe infections from viruses. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with fertility or pregnancy. No vaccine in the history of vaccines has ever been linked to fertility issues -- for men or for women.                                                             

Watch this short video in which Dr. Paul Offit discusses COVID-19, the vaccines and infertility.

Read more about fertility and COVID-19 vaccines in this article from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center.

Vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. There has been no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful to either people who have received a vaccine and are breastfeeding or to their babies. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. More data is needed to determine what level of protection these antibodies might provide to the baby. 

The first thing to consider is whether you have received all the recommended doses of COVID vaccine, including your booster dose. It is very important that people who have recently been pregnant are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. People who were recently pregnant are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness (Source: CDC).  

As the parent of a newborn, you will play an important role in keeping them safe. Having completed all of your COVID vaccines makes it more likely that you will stay healthy and not expose your baby to the virus. At the age of 6 months, your baby can begin the COVID vaccination series. In the meantime, consider breastfeeding your baby.

Yes! Contact your medical provider to let them know you have COVID-19. Based on your individual situation, they may recommend that you begin treatment with Paxlovid, an anti-viral medication which has shown no adverse maternal/fetal outcomes in recent smaller studies (see research links below). The 5-day treatment course of PAXLOVID should be initiated as soon as possible after a diagnosis of COVID-19 and within 5 days of symptom onset. 

Short-term Pregnancy Outcomes After Nirmatrelvir–Ritonavir Treatment for Mild-to-Moderate Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - PMC 

Analysis of Clinical Outcomes of Pregnant Patients Treated With Nirmatrelvir and Ritonavir for Acute SARS-CoV-2 Infection - PubMed 

For ongoing research information about all aspects of maternal and fetal medicine, visit: https://www.smfm.org/covid-19

Safety & FDA Approval

The COVID-19 vaccines have received the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history, which has allowed public health officials to make science-based recommendations that keep people safe. There have been more than 390 million doses administered in the U.S. to date. 

All COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and reviewed. The vaccine’s clinical trials three-phase process was detailed and thorough, and no shortcuts were taken. More than 150,000 people participated in U.S. clinical trials of the vaccines, and now, hundreds of millions of vaccine doses in the U.S. have been safely administered. Data from trial will continue to be collected for two years after each vaccine is first administered to ensure that they are safe for the long term. As with all vaccines, there will be ongoing monitoring for adverse events among people who are vaccinated into the future.

Hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been safely administered in the U.S. alone. 

On July 8, 2022, the FDA fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for everyone ages 12 and up, confirming the safety and efficacy of the vaccine against the COVID-19 virus. 

On January 31, 2022, the FDA fully approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for everyone ages 18 and older.

These vaccines have also recieved emergency use authorization for children of ages as young as 6 months based on robust safety monitoring data.

Questions about side effects are best discussed with your health care provider. However, side effects are usually mild and resolve in 1-2 days. Arm soreness or mild fever can be treated with over the counter medications like ibuprofen, or Tylenol (acetometophen).

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective based on large clinical trials with diverse participants (including various ages and medical conditions). 

There are systems in place to monitor for adverse events and side effects of the vaccine in real-time, including: 

  • V-safe app from the CDC is a smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. V-safe uses text messaging and surveys to check in with COVID-19 vaccine recipients after vaccination, allowing researchers to continually study vaccine safety on all populations.   

  • The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national system used by the CDC and the FDA. This system collects reports from healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the public regarding any adverse events that may happen after vaccination.       

  • National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) is an acute and long-term facility monitoring system that reports to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).  

  • Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) is a network of nine healthcare organizations from across the US that conduct active surveillance and research. This system is used to aid in determining if possible side effects identified in the VAERS are actually related to the vaccine. 

  • Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project is a collaboration between seven medical research institutions and the CDC. CISA provides consultation on a case by case basis, and conducts research about vaccine safety. 

More information about how the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine is ensured can be viewed, here