You're considered up to date when you have completed the primary COVID-19 vaccine series and gotten a dose of the bivalent booster.
The primary series is considered complete when you’ve gotten 2 doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax; or 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson.
You can read more about staying up to date here:
There are a lot of steps to make sure vaccines are safe before they are approved. None of these steps were skipped for the COVID-19 vaccines. Scientists had already been studying vaccines for other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS. This gave them a head-start in developing the COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition, the United States and other countries made sure that vaccines could be produced and distributed very quickly once they were approved.
For more information on how the vaccines were developed, visit:
How do we know if the COVID-19 vaccines are safe? Scientists tested the COVID-19 vaccines in large clinical trials that included more than 100,000 people. Clinical trials are done to see if:
- The vaccines are safe
- The vaccines work well
- Scientists closely monitored the people in the trials and did not find any significant safety concerns.
- When scientists developed the COVID-19 vaccine, they sped up the clinical trial timeline, but did not skip any steps. Some steps were happening at the same time.
- For example, the vaccines were already being produced while safety data was still being collected. This helped speed up distribution once they were approved.
More than 655 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given in the United States. So far, there have been very low rates of serious side effects.
Scientists continue to monitor the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines through programs that track health events in people who have gotten the vaccine. Health events include things like:
- Severe allergic reaction
- Blood clots
- Other severe side effects
You can learn more at these links:
National Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
CDC V-Safe Vaccine Safety Tracker
When tracking the health of millions of people, some health events will happen. Some of these health events might be related to the vaccine, and some may not. When tracking health events, scientists ask key questions like:
- Are there any health events that are more common among people who get the vaccine than among people who do not?
- Do the benefits of a vaccine outweigh potential risk of a vaccine?
For up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccine safety, please see Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines.
To learn more about the FDA's process for approving vaccines, visit:
All the COVID-19 vaccines in the United States help protect people from the virus. They lower the chance of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19.
- All the vaccines were studied in clinical trials before they were first approved. They were found to be effective in the trials and continue to work well in real-world settings.
- So far, the vaccines also provide protection against known variants, including Omicron and Delta.
Learn more: COVID-19 Vaccines Work
Comparing the differences between COVID-19 vaccines
Many people have side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Most of these side effects are normal. They are signs that the vaccine is working in your body.
Side effects are more common after the second dose of the vaccine. Side effects should get better within a few days. If you don't feel better after a few days, talk to your doctor.
The most common side effects are:
- Injection site pain, swelling, or redness
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Feeling unwell
- Swollen lymph nodes
To relieve side effects, you can:
- Take over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen after your vaccination.
- Apply a clean, cool washcloth where you got your injection
- Move your arm around
- Drink plenty of water
Side effects with any vaccine generally happen within 6 weeks. More information about side effects can be found at these links:
Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine
What are the vaccines’ side effects?
Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination
Many vaccines require an extra dose, or booster shot. This is because the vaccine's protection may decline over time. An additional dose of the vaccine helps provide extra protection from getting sick.
The updated COVID-19 boosters became available in September 2022. They are bivalent, which means they protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. The older version of the booster was monovalent, which means it only protected against the original virus that causes COVID-19.
As of December 2022, it's recommended that everyone ages 6 months and older receive one updated bivalent booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, whether that was:
- Their final primary series dose, or
- An original (monovalent) booster
You have to get the bivalent booster to be considered up to date on your COVID-19 protection.
For the latest information on booster shots, please visit:
COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot
You can get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you don't have official ID. You do not need government ID or a social security number.
Vaccine providers may ask if you have ID or insurance, but these are not required – you can just say you don’t have it. Any information you do provide is confidential.
COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for people who are pregnant or nursing by these groups of experts:
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
- Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Scientists have found that:
- Compared with people who are not pregnant, the risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 is higher during and after pregnancy.
- So far there have been no safety concerns reported for pregnant or breastfeeding people who got the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Recent studies on pregnant and breastfeeding people who received the COVID-19 vaccine show that their protection is passed on to the baby.
We recommend you talk to your health care provider about what's best in your situation.
When you read or hear something about COVID-19, how do you know if you can trust it? There is a lot of misinformation that spreads quickly, especially on the Internet and through social media.
Here are a few tips to help you find information you can trust.
The web address, or URL, usually tells you something about the organization. If you know what the goal of the website is, it can help you determine if the information can be trusted.
- .gov is a U.S. government agency
- .edu is an educational institution
- .org is often (but not always) a nonprofit or professional organization. Anyone can create a website using “.org” so it is important to check the source of the information.
- .com is usually a commercial site
Look for a date to see when the information was last updated.
Is the information based on facts and research rather than just opinion?
All viruses change, or mutate, over time. The changed virus is called a variant.
There have been several variants of concern since COVID-19 first appeared. The Omicron variant has become widespread and is easier to transmit than both the original virus and the Delta variant. The Delta variant was more widespread last year but is not as common now.
The updated boosters became available in September 2022. They are bivalent, which means they protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.
So far, current vaccines have been able to protect against the COVID-19 variants in preventing hospitalization and death. More information is available at the following links:
What You Need to Know about Variants
6 Questions (and Answers) About COVID-19 Variants
COVID-19 variants: What's the concern?
Many people have a fear of needles, so getting a vaccine can be stressful. Here are some tips for making your vaccination a little easier.
Some people find that making a plan can reduce stress. Plan out things like:
- Where you are going to get vaccinated
- How you are going to get to your appointment
- What time you need to leave to go to your appointment
- What you are going to wear
Think about what would help make you feel more comfortable and keep you distracted. Here are some ideas you can try:
- Bring a friend or family member for company
- Listen to music, play a game on your phone, or read while you are waiting
- Use a relaxation app or take some slow, deep breaths
- Focus on something in the room - the details in a picture on the wall, the pattern of the floor tiles
- Look away from the needle, but chat with the person giving you the shot
If you tend to get dizzy or faint when getting shots:
- Let the nurse, doctor, or health care worker know
- Ask if there is a private room available to get your shot
- Ask if you can lay down while getting your shot
- Eat a something before getting your shot
- Drink two cups of water about 5 minutes before getting your vaccine
Other options to relieve anxiety and pain:
- A few devices are available that may help block the pain of shots. You can find these online.
You are not alone! It is estimated that 20% of adults (2 in 10) are afraid of needles. Remind yourself of the good reasons you have for getting the vaccine, and reward yourself when it's over. You can do it! 😊
COVID-19 vaccines are free. You do not have to pay anything to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
You do not need health insurance to get the vaccine. If you have health insurance, the vaccine provider may ask for it. This is so they can request payment from your insurance company, but you will not have to pay anything.
Some people can't get the COVID-19 vaccine or it doesn't work as well for them. This can be due to their age, illness, or medicines they take. They rely on others around them to protect them from the virus.
When you are vaccinated, you are less likely to get the virus and spread it to other people.
Is there someone in your life that you want to protect from COVID-19? Consider how your decision about the vaccine might impact the people and things you care about most.
Clinical trials are used to study new medical treatments. People of color have not always been well represented in these trials.
COVID-19 has hit communities of color very hard. It was important to make sure these communities took part in the vaccine trials.
Scientists worked with faith leaders and community groups to reach out to a wide group of people. This helped them find a diverse group of volunteers for the trials.
We can still do better, but these vaccine trials were more diverse than in the past.
For more details on the people who took part in the COVID-19 vaccine trials, visit:
Please see this message about COVID-19 vaccines from the FDA's Office of Minority Health and Health Equity:
Some employers will provide paid time off for employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine. If this is not possible for you, many vaccine locations provide flexible appointment times. Many places also take walk-ins without appointments.
Some people report feeling sick for 1-2 days after getting the vaccine. This tends to happen more often with the second shot. It may help to schedule your vaccine before a day off or other time when you can rest.
Remember that getting sick from the virus can be much worse than the side effects of the vaccine. People who get COVID-19 are more likely to miss work than people who get the vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccines work very well, but no vaccine is 100% effective. Some people who are vaccinated may still get COVID-19. These “breakthrough infections” are expected with any vaccine.
The vaccines still offer strong protection. People who have had the vaccine and get COVID-19:
- usually have milder cases
- are less likely to be hospitalized or die due to COVID-19
- may still be able to transmit the virus to others
For more information, visit:
The Possibility of COVID-19 after Vaccination: Breakthrough Infections
Some people believe that COVID-19 cases are being over-reported. This is not true.
Death certificates are used to count COVID-19 deaths, but it's hard to have 100% accuracy. Here's why:
- Death certificates may list more than one thing that contributes to someone's death.
- Different doctors or medical examiners may report cause of death differently.
- Most doctors report COVID-19 as a cause of death only if COVID-19 shortened a person's life. For example:
- Someone with a prior health condition (like cancer) may have been expected to live for a year, but died of COVID-19 before then. In this case, the doctor would list COVID-19 as a cause of death.
- If the person was already dying and contracted COVID-19, the doctor would not list COVID-19 as a cause of death.
The number of COVID-19 deaths is likely higher than what is reported. Here's why:
- It is difficult to tell if someone died of COVID-19 if they were never tested before they died. Many people have died during the pandemic but were never tested for COVID-19. These people are likely undercounted.
- According to the CDC, there were approximately 300,000 more deaths than usual from January-October of 2020. About 2/3 of these deaths were reported as COVID-19 deaths. Experts believe that the remaining 1/3 of deaths were either:
- Under-reported COVID-19 deaths.
- Indirectly related to COVID-19 (since many people had limited access to medical care because of the pandemic during this time).
COVID-19 has caused severe illness and more than 1 million deaths in the United States alone. Scientists estimate that that COVID-19 may cause 10 times as many deaths as the flu.
- Many people have mild cases of the virus, but others get very sick.
- Some people have long-term symptoms months after getting the virus, even if they were healthy to begin with.
- Some people have a higher chance of getting very sick from COVID-19 due to their age or medical conditions.
- This includes older adults (especially those 65+) and people who have cancer, diabetes, or are overweight. Please see the CDC's full list here.
The longer COVID-19 stays around, the more it can change. This can cause it to spread more easily or lead to an increase in hospitalizations. This is true even among younger and previously healthy people.
The best way to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated.
Some people feel that their immune system is strong enough to protect them against COVID-19. Sadly, even healthy people who are not vaccinated can get very sick or die from the virus.
The vaccine helps prime the body to fight the virus if you get exposed. Doctors agree that vaccinated people are less likely to get sick from the virus.
In addition, some people can't get the COVID-19 vaccine, or it doesn't work as well for them. This can be due to their age, illness, or medicines they take. They rely on others around them to protect them from the virus.
If you already had COVID-19:
Scientists are still studying how long immunity lasts after having COVID-19. Since protection may go down over time, getting the vaccine provides an extra boost to your immune system.
Most people who have had COVID-19 can get the vaccine once they have completed the isolation period. Doctors advise waiting at least 90 days to get the vaccine if:
- you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma
- you have a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome
Scientists know for sure that you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines. The vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.
Some people have flu-like symptoms for 1-2 days after getting the vaccine. This is a natural response to the vaccine, but it is not the same as getting COVID-19. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine does not take very long. In most cases, it only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. You can schedule an appointment or find a walk-in location. After you get the vaccine, you'll need to wait for about 15 minutes before you leave.
We can help you find a convenient place to get the vaccine. Visit: https://www.vaccines.gov/search/
Scientists expect that COVID-19 will be around for a while. There are not enough people vaccinated to protect everyone from COVID-19.
Anyone who is not vaccinated is more likely to get COVID-19 and spread it to others. As the virus continues to infect people, it can also continue to change and create new variants.
As more people gain immunity, the virus has fewer people to infect. The best way to fight the virus is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
COVID-19 vaccines do not contain fetal cells. Many religious organizations, including the Vatican, support the vaccines. They have determined that the vaccines do not go against Christian beliefs. Most pro-life organizations have said that it is acceptable to get the vaccine.
You may find the following websites helpful:
There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause problems for men or women who are trying to have a baby. In clinical trials of the vaccines, the same number of women became pregnant in the vaccine group as in the placebo (no vaccine) group.
For more information, please visit:
COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Would Like to Have a Baby
There is nothing in any of the COVID-19 vaccines that affects your DNA. Some vaccines contain mRNA, which is different from DNA.
- The mRNA delivers instructions to your immune system, and then your body destroys the mRNA.
- The mRNA never enters the part of the cells where DNA is located.
For more information, please visit:
Different types of COVID-19 vaccines: How they work
Some people believe that Bill Gates is using the COVID-19 vaccines to inject microchips in people and track them. This is a rumor - it is not true.
How the rumor started:
- The Gates Foundation is focused on improving medical care for people around the world. Many countries don't have good systems for tracking medical records. As a result, health care providers may not know which vaccines a person has received.
- The Gates Foundation funded research at MIT and Rice University to work on a solution to this problem. They studied how to keep track of vaccinations when medical records are not available.
- The researchers developed an invisible dye that gets injected with a vaccine. Doctors can use a smartphone to see the invisible dye and know if a person has received that vaccine or not.
- The dye does not allow people to be tracked. The only thing a doctor could see is if the person received a specific vaccine. They would not be able to see where the person has been or any other information about the person.
- This is only research. It has not been used anywhere.
- This technology would not work with COVID-19 vaccines. It uses a patch to inject the invisible dye, not a traditional syringe. The COVID-19 vaccines use a traditional syringe, not this patch.
We're here to help!
- Do you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccines or boosters?
- Do you need help getting a vaccine or booster?
If so, please visit our Contact Page to reach out and someone will get back to you!
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