Pfizer or Moderna? Here's How to Find the COVID Vaccine You Want

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

Pfizer or Moderna? Here's How to Find the COVID Vaccine You Want
Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

Pfizer or Moderna?

With COVID-19 vaccinations open to L.A. County residents 16 and over, people booking appointments often want one or the other.

To respond to the demand, the state's appointment booking site, My Turn, will soon begin listing which vaccine a clinic plans to administer. And many sites already list the information. One reason is that only Pfizer is approved for 16 and 17 years olds.

California Department of Public Health spokesperson Darrel Ng said "the best vaccine is the first one that's available."

For months, volunteers helping L.A. residents book appointments noticed partiality to the Johnson & Johnson shot, which only requires one dose.

But this week, L.A. stopped administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported six cases of blood clots among those who received it. It's unclear when L.A. sites will resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Even now, with one fewer choice on the table, vaccine preference hasn't disappeared.

Liz Schwandt, who runs the volunteer program Get Out the Shot, offered a few tips to see what's available:

  1. Start with L.A. County's appointment site and click on "How to Make an Appointment" highlighted in blue on the left-hand column.
  2. Below the first heading, click option 2: Look for an appointment.
  3. Scroll down past the first list of clinics and hospitals and pharmacies. You can try these links — if you'd rather visit a CVS, for example — but not every website will display vaccine type and you may have to call. CVS and other pharmacies usually release new slots early each morning.
  4. Look for the dark blue heading titled "Clinics and Hospitals Serving Community Members."
  5. Check the upper righthand corner of each listed vaccination site for the type of vaccine offered. Most will direct you to My Turn to book the appointment.

Schwandt said to consider calling the vaccination site prior to your appointment to make sure the vaccine you want is offered there — especially if you're 16 or adamant about getting a certain shot.

She said smaller clinics and pop-up sites tend to be more reliable when it comes to administering the exact vaccine listed on these websites. And it can be easier to get on the phone with someone there. Mega pods and larger hospitals may have access to both vaccines and could switch things up on you last minute.

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