COVID Vaccine.jpg

COVID-19 Vaccine Information Center

Vaccination is a critically necessary step in ensuring we, as a society, can help to reduce the spread of the virus, end the pandemic, and return to our usual way of life. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. Get vaccinated and boosted today: visit or text your ZIP code to 438829. The newly-available bivalent boosters are particularly effective against new variants of COVID-19, and getting one can protect you and your family.

However, it's still envouraged to wear a protective mask when you feel it's appropriate and socially distance from others when you may have been exposed.

If you have any more questions about vaccine safety, we've addressed some common concerns and misconceptions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for the COVID vaccine?

All Americans aged 5 and older are now eligible to be vaccinated. CDC recommends that children between the ages of 5 and 11 years receive the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine.

Who is eligible for an additional vaccine dose?

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna recipients above the age of 18 who completed their initial series at least 6 months ago. The CDC also recommends an additional dose of Pfizer-BioNTech for children 5 and older.

A second booster is also available for adults 50 or older, people over 12 who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, and those who received two doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Learn more about the CDC's guidance.

Where can I get the vaccine?

While individuals who come to the emergency department or an urgent care center may be vaccinated (once it’s ready and available for their respective group), it may be easier to get vaccinated by your primary care provider, pharmacist, or local health department, particularly if they need to follow up with you about getting the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Learn more at

Can I choose which vaccine I get?

All of the available vaccines effectively protect against severe illness from COVID-19. The ability to choose which you receive depends on a number of factors, including the supply in your area at the time you’re vaccinated and whether certain vaccines are found to be more effective in certain populations, such as older adults. However, if you receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you need to get the same shot each time.

Can pregnant women get vaccinated?

Yes. Pregnant women are more likely to get severely ill and require hospitalization with COVID-19 compared to those who are not pregnant. COVID-19 also may place the pregnancy at risk, including pre-term birth. It’s important to discuss your specific situation with your health care professional.

Is it free?

Yes, the vaccine is free, although you may want to check with your health insurer about whether they will cover the cost to administer the vaccine.

How do I know it’s safe and effective?

As with all vaccines, clinical trials rigorously evaluated the COVID-19 vaccine to generate scientific data and other information for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine their safety and effectiveness. Both Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines prevented more than 90 percent of COVID-19 cases, and even those that did contract the virus only had mild symptoms. The J&J/Janssen vaccine prevented 66.3 percent of COVID-19, and similarly protected against severe symptoms.

While "Project Warp Speed" removed the barriers and time associated with reporting and other logistical barriers, the companies still had to follow the FDA’s usual vaccine approval process to ensure they provide the appropriate protections and meet all required safety measures. Each company’s application to the FDA included two months of follow-up safety data from Phase 3 of clinical trials conducted by universities and other independent bodies. In that phase, tens of thousands of volunteers got a vaccine and waited to see if they became infected, compared with others who received a placebo. No serious safety concerns were reported in any of the vaccines.

Even after a vaccine is authorized or approved for use, there are vaccine safety monitoring systems that watch for adverse events or possible side effects. This continued monitoring can pick up on possible side effects that may not have been seen in clinical trials. If an unexpected adverse event is detected, experts quickly study it further to assess whether it is a true safety concern. Experts then decide whether changes are needed in the vaccine recommendations.

One of these systems is the CDC’s voluntary V-SAFE program. V-SAFE will use text messaging and web surveys for the CDC to check in with those who received the COVID-19 vaccine to see if health problems arose following vaccination. The system also will follow up via phone with anyone who reports medically significant side effects.

What are the side effects?

Some participants in vaccine trials experienced typical mild viral symptoms including fever, muscle aches, bad headaches, and fatigue after receiving the shots, but the side effects generally did not last more than a day. You may have stronger symptoms 24 hours after the second dose. Preliminary data suggests that, compared with most flu vaccines, the COVID-19 shots have a somewhat higher rate of such reactions, which are almost always normal signs that the body’s immune response is kicking in.

A small number of those first vaccinated had an allergic reaction following the injection. Therefore, we recommend that those with a history of significant allergic reactions or anaphylaxis check with their physicians before receiving the vaccine.

Researchers and government officials will continue to monitor those who have received the vaccine to study potential side-effects and determine if we need to adjust our current vaccine recommendations. Despite the chance of possible side effects, the vaccine is a safe and critically necessary step in ensuring we, as a society, can help to reduce the spread of the virus, end of this pandemic, and return to our usual way of life.

I had COVID-19 already. Do I need the vaccine?

Yes, you should still get vaccinated. Although people who have contracted the virus do have some immune response—called natural immunity—it is unclear how long it lasts. The CDC has found that unvaccinated people who had a prior COVID-19 infection were still 5.5 times more likely to test positive for the virus than vaccinated individuals who never got infected before.

After I get vaccinated, can I still spread the virus?

The Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J/Janssen vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness from the virus, and preliminary data has shown that fully-vaccinated individuals are unlikely to transmit the virus to others. However, the CDC currently recommends that vaccinated individuals continue to wear a mask indoors in public if you live with, or are in close contact with, someone who is immunocompromised or unvaccinated.

Once I get vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask and socially distance from others?

Due to the high levels of community spread in many counties, it is often recommended to wear a mask indoors and take precautions even after getting fully-vaccinated until the risk is reduced.

Until you are fully-vaccinated, you should still plan to wear a protective mask when in public and maintain social distance from unvaccinated people. It takes several weeks for your body to build an adequate protective response. Two weeks after your second dose, you will only need to wear a mask or maintain social distance in circumstances recommended by the CDC, such as in areas with significant community spread.

How many people need to get vaccinated to have herd immunity?

Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19.

“Herd immunity” is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.

Where should I go if I have more questions?

You can visit the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine page or visit the website of your state’s department of health if you have additional questions.

Read more about COVID-19

Read more about What's Trending in the ER

CDC COVID-19 Infections & Infectious Diseases Public Education What's Trending in the ER