COVID-19 Vaccines

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In the U.S., vaccines are available to everyone 6 months and older!

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FAQs     |     COVID-19 Vaccines Approved in the U.S.     |     COVID-19 Vaccines in Process     |     COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Process

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 Questions About

COVID-19 Vaccines?

Can I Still Get Vaccinated?

Yes, in the United States, vaccination is available to everyone 6 months and older. Check with your doctor, your health plan or use to find out where you can be vaccinated now.

Can Children Get Vaccinated for COVID-19?

Yes, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are approved to use for those 6 months to 4 years. Children 5 to 18 years are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine (CDC). The other available vaccines are for those 18 and over. Watch for updates in available vaccines for children.

Where Do You Get the Vaccine?

The CDC refers people to the Vaccine Finder. All locations may not be listed. Be sure to ask your health plan or provider what might be closest. Pharmacies near you may also have vaccinations available (CDC). You can use this link to look up your local health office for more information. Most vaccination sites require you to make an appointment.

What Happens When You Get Vaccinated?

The vaccination is a simple shot in the arm. Reactions are rare, but you could feel an ache where you received the shot or light flu symptoms. You can visit the CDC for more information about possible side effects. For more about the COVID-19 vaccines click here.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots for those 16 and older. Vaccines for younger children may have a different number of shots. Please be sure you know how many your child should receive. You will receive a vaccination card that tells you when you are due for your second shot. Be sure to make your appointment.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one dose.

Continue to wear a face mask, socially distance, and follow all safety protocols as your state and the CDC instruct (CDC).

Immunocompromised need an additional shot and everyone 12 and over is recommended to get at least one booster shot (CDC).

Do You Get One Shot or Two?

For everyone 5 and older who qualify for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, there are two doses (two shots) of the vaccine approximately 21-28 days apart. For children 6 months to 4 years old, there are 3 doses of Pfizer and 2 doses of Moderna (CDC).

When you get the first vaccination, make a date to come back for the next shot. If you’re 18 or over and get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there is only one shot.

After getting the first set of shots, a third shot is recommended for those adults who are immunocompromised and a booster is suggested for everyone who qualifies (CDC).
Will You Be Immune Once You Get the Vaccine?

You will not immediately be immune after being vaccinated. It takes at least two weeks after the second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before you receive the full protection of those doses. You could still get COVID-19 because the vaccines are not 100% effective. In addition, the CDC also recommends one booster shot for those 5 and older and two booster shots for those 50 plus.

Immunocompromised: Those who are immunocompromised should get a 3rd dose at least 28 days after the 2nd dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and at least one booster. Visit the CDC and discuss the boosters with your doctor.

To learn more about the vaccines available, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine page on this website or visit the CDC.

Do You Need to Wear a Mast and Social Distance After Getting Vaccinated?

The CDC has made recommendations that allow people to relax mask restrictions while adjusting for the level of personal risk and community infection. Visit the CDC for those recommendations and check the local government and health department who may have other recommendations for your area. Also, please follow mask guidelines requested by local businesses.

Should You Get a Booster Shot?

If you got the two-shot series of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least five (5) months ago, you can get a booster shot if you are 18 years old or older (CDC). You can get any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States as a booster (CDC).

If you got the Johnson & Johnson single shot COVID-19 vaccine at least two (2) months ago, you can get a booster shot if you are 18 years or older. The CDC is recommending that your booster be Moderna or Pfizer (CDC).

If you are 5-17 years old you are authorized for a booster of the Pfizer vaccine (CDC).

If you are 50 or older, you are authorized to take a second booster. The second booster must be an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (CDC).

Immunocompromised: Those who are immunocompromised should get a 3rd dose at least 28 days after the 2nd dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and at least one booster. Visit the CDC and discuss the boosters with your doctor.

Is There a Treatment for COVID-19?

In December 2021, the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Pfizer for Paxlovid. It is a pill taken orally. Paxlovid is the first treatment for COVID-19 to receive any type of authorization in the U.S. It is authorized to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing about 88 pounds) who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. Paxlovid is available by prescription only and should be used as soon as possible after diagnosis and within five days of symptom onset. Paxlovid is NOT a substitute for vaccination (FDA). The CDC recommends everyone be vaccinated fully.

Will the Vaccines Protect You From the New Strains of COVID-19?

The vaccines will protect from a range of variants, including the Omicron variants. The FDA and CDC are recommending booster shots for those 5 years old and above and vaccination for those 6 months and older (CDC). See the FAQs above for more details.

The Vaccines Approved for Emergency Use in the U.S.

The first two COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, available to help us fight COVID-19 are mRNA Vaccines. The specific codes that make its “spike” protein (which is what enables the virus to infect people) were isolated and copied as mRNA fragments, which is what cells use as instructions for making proteins. Those fragments are packaged into special molecules, then injected into the patient.

Within the patient, the mRNA fragments enter the body’s factories. The factory “reads” the mRNA instructions and makes copies of the spike protein. Spike protein copies are partial and cannot, by themselves, cause harm, but they will trigger the body to make antibodies against the spike portion of the virus. Those antibodies protect patients from a COVID-19 infection (Forbes).

The third vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. A viral vector vaccine uses a virus (unable to cause harm in people or one modified so it can’t) to deliver the instructions to factories in the body to make a harmless part of the COVID-19 spike. That triggers an immune response in our body which teaches it how to respond if the body is exposed to the real COVID-19 virus (CDC).

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Pfizer / BioNTech Vaccine

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (Pfizer) was the first to be authorized in the U.S. Data from their Phase 3 study of nearly 44,000 people (42% having diverse background) has shown their vaccine candidate to be 95% effective in helping to prevent COVID-19. This was consistent across age, race and ethnicity demographics. In adults over 65 years of age, effectiveness was over 94%.

Things to Know

This vaccine requires two doses, delivered by injection, three to four weeks apart. It is approved for those 5 years old and over. If you have an existing condition or have had a reaction to a vaccine, please consult your doctor. The vaccine does not contain eggs, latex or preservatives (CDC).

Side Effects

According to the FDA, the most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. More people experienced these effects after the second dose than after the first dose, and they lasted several days.

Moderna Vaccine

The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is approved by the FDA. It is marketed as Spikevax for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older (FDA). Early results from the Moderna clinical trials showed their vaccine to be “94.1% effective with more than 30,000 participants in the U.S. in the trial.” Its success was consistent across age, race and ethnicity, and gender demographics. The Cove study (Phase 3 trial) included those over 65, with chronic health conditions, and “individuals who self-identify as people of color” (Moderna).

Things to Know

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses, one month (28 days) apart. It is recommended for people aged 18 years and older. The vaccine does not contain eggs, preservatives or latex. You should not get the vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to the first dose or any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (such as polyethylene glycol) (CDC).

Side Effects

Moderna is a mRNA vaccine. According to a Moderna news release, “no serious adverse events were noted in the trial." Reactions to the vaccine include potential pain, redness, and swelling in the arm and tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea in the rest of the body (CDC).

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the third vaccine approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA. In clinical trials it was reported this vaccine prevented hospitalization and death (J&J).

"The J&J vaccine was tested in more people who identified as Hispanic/Latino and Black or African American. It was also tested in more people who were 60 years or older and in those who had conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes" (Duke Health).

Things to Know

This vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. It is easier to store than the mRNA vaccines and requires only one dose. The vaccine is approved for people 18 years old and older. If you have previously had a reaction to a vaccine or to any ingredient in the vaccine, you should not get the J&J vaccine (J&J/CDC).

Side Effects

The most common side effects include injection site pain, headache, fatigue, muscle ache and nausea. These usually happen 1-2 days after being vaccinated. The symptoms are reportedly mild to moderately severe (FDA). However, according to the CDC, "women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination, and that other COVID-19 vaccines are available where this risk has not been seen. If you received a J&J/Janssen vaccine, here is what you need to know. Read the CDC/FDA statement" (CDC).

COVID-19 Vaccine

The FDA and CDC are now recommending COVID-19 boosters for those age 12 and older (CDC).

If you received the two-shot series of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least five (5) months ago, you can get a Pfizer booster shot if you are 12 or over, or the Moderna booster if you are 18 or over.

If you got the Johnson & Johnson single shot COVID-19 vaccine at least two (2) months ago, you can get a booster shot if you are 18 years or older (CDC).

You can get any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States as a booster (CDC).


Those who are immunocompromised should get a 3rd dose at least 28 days after the 2nd dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (CDC).

Where Do You Get Booster Shots?

Most places that gave the original shots (doses) can give you a booster.

  • Search, or call 1-800-232-0233, to find locations near you.
  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available.

Please check in your state or local health department for more guidance on receiving boosters in your state and region.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Process

Operation Warp Speed identified the most promising potential vaccines and provided government support to lessen the time required to receive FDA approval and prepare for production and delivery of the vaccine. The vaccine manufacturers worked with the U.S. government on safety needs throughout the process. While the COVID-19 vaccine trial process has been thorough, it has been faster than normal largely because the three trial phases and manufacturing and delivery preparation have been done in an overlapping sequence. Also, mRNA vaccines — the first two vaccines created and submitted to the FDA by Pfizer and Moderna — are generally faster to create, test, and market.

The FDA has a Vaccine Advisory Committee that reviews all scientific data once a vaccine has been submitted and makes a recommendation to approve a vaccine or not. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccines, they were first recommended for Emergency Use Authorization.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) FDA Approval

An EUA makes a vaccine or medication available to the public faster than the traditional approval process, but full FDA approval still hinges on data that shows the vaccine is safe and effective.  Since EUA is more limited than full approval, drug makers are expected to submit the vaccine for full approval later.

Once the FDA accepts a positive recommendation and the vaccine is approved for limited emergency use, the company can distribute it.

Through Operation Warp Speed, the federal government made investments in the manufacturing end of the vaccine development process, enabling faster distribution of the vaccine. The Department of Defense set up and put into action a plan to deliver the vaccine nationwide, with states determining where vaccines would be provided and in what priority.