COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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On this page are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines authorized and available across Texas.

On this page:


Boosters & Additional Primary Doses

What is the difference between a “booster dose" and an “additional primary dose”?

To understand the difference between a “booster dose" and an “additional primary dose,” it’s important to understand each of the following terms.

A primary series is the initial dose(s) of a COVID-19 vaccine. For Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, the primary series is two vaccine doses. For the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, the primary series is a single vaccine dose.

An additional primary dose is a subsequent dose given after a primary mRNA vaccine series (Pfizer or Moderna). This is recommended only for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, because they may not have received adequate protection from their initial 2-dose series. These people should receive their additional primary dose at least 28 days after a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. See the COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People page on the CDC website for more information.

A booster dose is a supplemental vaccine dose given to people when the immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have waned over time. CDC has issued recommendations for a single vaccine booster dose in some populations. See the COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots page on the CDC website for more information.

Booster Doses

Are booster shots being offered?

A booster shot is recommended for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. Eligible individuals may mix and match which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA) vaccines are preferred in most situations.

Follow these recommendations about when to get your booster dose after completing your primary series:

  • For people who have received Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as their primary series, a booster shot is recommended for people 12 years old and older at least 5 months after their second dose.
  • For people who have received Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as their primary series, a booster shot is recommended for people 18 years old and older at least 5 months after their second dose.
  • For people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, a booster shot is also recommended for those who are 18 years old and older at least two months after receiving their single J&J dose.

If you have questions about whether you should get a COVID-19 booster shot, talk to your healthcare provider. For more information, see the COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots page on the CDC website.

What does “mix and match” vaccine mean?

People 18 years old and older may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix-and-match dosing for booster shots. However, CDC now recommends a preference for Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA) vaccines in most situations.

Because Pfizer is the only vaccine currently available for adolescents ages 12 through 17 years old, those in this age group are only eligible for a Pfizer booster at this time.

Are the booster doses the same as the primary series?

  • The Pfizer COVID-19 booster dose vaccine is exactly the same vaccine as the primary series and the dose is the same.
  • The Moderna COVID-19 booster dose vaccine is the same vaccine but half the dose of the primary series.
  • The J&J booster dose vaccine is exactly the same vaccine as the primary series and the dose is the same.

Am I still considered “fully vaccinated” if I don’t get a booster shot?

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing their primary series. That means you are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after the second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer COVID-19 or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as J&J COVID-19 vaccine.

If you are moderately to severely immunocompromised, you should also get an additional dose to complete your primary series.

However, everyone should stay up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines after completing their primary series. You are up-to-date if you are fully vaccinated and have also had the recommended additional primary dose or booster dose as recommended by the CDC. See CDC’s guidance on vaccinations including booster and additional primary doses for more information.

If I am immunocompromised and have received my additional primary dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), can I get a booster dose?

It depends. For people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems, CDC and Texas DSHS recommend full mRNA vaccination, and then additional primary and booster doses depending on age:

  • People 18 years of age and older should receive three doses of the same mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) with the primary dose (third dose) given 28 days after the second dose. A single booster dose (preferably Pfizer or Moderna) should be given at least 5 months after the additional primary dose (third dose).
  • Adolescents 12 through 17 years of age should receive two initial doses of Pfizer vaccine, an additional primary Pfizer dose 28 days after the initial two doses, and a Pfizer booster dose at least 5 months after the additional primary dose (third dose).
  • Children 5 through 11 years of age who received the initial two doses of Pfizer vaccine are not yet eligible for a booster. But those in this age group who are immunocompromised should receive an additional primary dose (third dose) of Pfizer vaccine at least 28 days after the second.

If I am immunocompromised and have received a single J&J vaccine dose as my primary series, can I get a booster dose?

Yes. Moderately and severely immunocompromised people 18 years old and older who received a single dose J&J primary vaccine series should receive a single booster dose at least 2 months (8 weeks) after receiving their initial J&J primary dose. Although J&J boosters may be considered in certain cases, Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA) boosters are preferred in most situations.

A person who received one primary dose of J&J vaccine should not receive more than two COVID-19 vaccine doses.

If you have questions, talk to your healthcare provider about the best timing for your vaccination.

Additional Primary Doses

Who is considered moderately to severely immunocompromised and recommended to receive the additional primary dose?

The additional primary dose of mRNA vaccine should be considered for people who are immunocompromised due to certain medical conditions or certain immunosuppressive medications or treatments. This includes people who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

Other medical conditions may also make a person moderately or severely immunocompromised. For the most up-to-date information, see the COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People page of the CDC website. If you have questions about whether you are eligible for an additional primary dose based on your medical condition or medical treatments, you can talk to your healthcare provider.

Should my additional primary dose of the mRNA vaccine come from the same brand (same manufacturer) as my initial vaccine series? Or, can I mix and match?

Your additional primary dose should be from the same vaccine brand (manufacturer) as your initial vaccine series. So, if your first 2-dose series was from Moderna, your additional primary dose should be from Moderna. If your initial 2-dose series was from Pfizer, your additional primary dose should be from Pfizer.

However, if the mRNA vaccine you got for the first two doses is not available, you can get the other mRNA vaccine.

What age groups are eligible for an additional primary dose of an mRNA vaccine?

It depends on which vaccine brand (manufacturer) you received for your primary series.

  • Pfizer additional primary dose: available for moderately to severely immunocompromised people 5 years old and older.
  • Moderna additional primary dose: available for moderately to severely immunocompromised people 18 years old and older.

Do I need a doctor’s note or referral to get an additional primary dose if I am immunocompromised? Do I have to get the additional primary dose from the same provider who gave me my initial mRNA vaccine series?

If you are immunocompromised, you may talk to your healthcare provider about whether an additional primary dose is appropriate for you, but you are not required to do so. You do not need a doctor’s note or referral and can “self-attest” to receive the additional primary dose wherever mRNA vaccines are offered. However, it is best that your additional primary dose is the same brand (Pfizer or Moderna) as your initial vaccine series.

I got the J&J single-dose vaccine. Can I get the mRNA additional primary dose?

Moderately and severely immunocompromised people 18 years old and older who received a single J&J primary series should receive a single COVID-19 booster dose as their additional primary dose at least 2 months (8 weeks) after receiving their initial J&J primary dose. Although J&J boosters may be considered in certain cases, Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA) boosters are preferred in most situations.

A person who received one primary dose of J&J vaccine should not receive more than two COVID-19 vaccine doses.

If you have questions, talk to your healthcare provider about the best timing for your vaccination.

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Pregnant & Recently Pregnant People

Can pregnant people get the vaccine?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. CDC recommends getting one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer or Moderna. Also, everyone who is eligible should get a booster shot.

If you would like to receive the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, find out about the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets (referred to as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS) after J&J vaccination and discuss with your healthcare provider.

Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. Severe illness includes illness that requires hospitalization, intensive care, need for a ventilator or special equipment to breathe, or illness that results in death. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19.

Evidence suggests the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks.

Discuss your options and any concerns with your healthcare provider if you have any reservations.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy, visit the COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding and Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People sections of the CDC website.

Are there any special precautions pregnant people should take after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. If you experience fever following vaccination, you should take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Fever—for any reason—has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

CDC recommends getting one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer or Moderna.

Women younger than 50 years old who received the J&J COVID-19 vaccine should especially be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination. This risk has not been seen with the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). If you received a J&J COVID-19 vaccine, you can find out more about this rare but serious adverse event (referred to as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS), including what symptoms to look out for, on the CDC website.

If you are pregnant and have received a COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to enroll in v-safe. V-safe is CDC’s smartphone-based tool that provides personalized health check-ins after vaccination. CDC established a v-safe pregnancy registry to gather information on the health of pregnant people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Participation is voluntary. You may opt out at any time.

Who can I speak with if I am pregnant and have questions about COVID-19 vaccination?

If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccination, talk to your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider. Alternatively, you can contact MotherToBaby, a free and confidential service. MotherToBaby experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish, Monday–Friday 8am–5pm (local time). To reach MotherToBaby:

  • Call 1-866-626-6847
  • Text 855-999-8525
  • Chat live or send a message to MotherToBaby

MotherToBaby is a nonprofit service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS).

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Children & Teens

Can my child get vaccinated for COVID-19?

It depends. Children 5 years old and older are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people ages 5 years to 17 years.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 years of age is a different vaccine product than for children 12 years and older. The vaccine for children 5-11 years of age comes in an orange cap vial. The Pfizer COVID-19 orange cap vaccine is the only vaccine authorized for this age group. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people 12 years old and older comes in a purple or gray cap vial and must not be administered to children younger than 12 years of age.

Additionally, the dose of the vaccine for children 5-11 years of age is one-third the dose of adolescent/adult dose (10 mcg versus 30 mcg).

Children 5-11 years of age are also required to get two doses, 21 days apart, to complete their primary vaccine series.

Is my child eligible for a booster dose after completing the 2-dose primary vaccine series?

It depends. If your child is 12 to 17 years of age, they can receive a Pfizer vaccine booster dose at least 5 months after completing the primary vaccine series. Children younger than 12 years of age are not currently authorized to get a booster dose.

For the most up-to-date information, see the COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots page on the CDC website.

Should my immunocompromised child receive an additional dose after completing the 2-dose primary vaccine series?

It depends. Children 5 years of age and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should get an additional primary shot of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after receiving their second dose.

For the most up-to-date information, see the COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised People page on the CDC website.

Why should I get my child vaccinated against COVID-19?

COVID-19 vaccination can help protect your child from getting COVID-19.

COVID-19 can make children very sick and cause children to be hospitalized. Getting your child vaccinated helps to protect your child and your family. Vaccination is now recommended for everyone 5 years old and older. Currently, the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine is the only one available to children 5 years old and older.

It is important that your child stay up to date and get all recommended COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are eligible. This includes boosters for some age groups and an additional primary dose for moderately to severely immunocompromised children.

Promptly vaccinating children ages 5 years and up is another valuable tool that will help end the COVID-19 pandemic and have a direct and positive effect on schools being open for classroom learning and extracurricular activities.

For more information, visit the COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens and COVID-19 in Children and Teens sections of the CDC website.

Can my child get vaccinated at any clinic?

If your child is 5-11 years old, check with the clinic to make sure they have the Pfizer COVID-19 orange cap vaccine available. If your child is 12-17 years old, check with the clinic to make sure they have the Pfizer COVID-19 purple or gray cap vaccine available. At this time, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children and adolescents 5 to 17 years of age. It’s also important to note that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 years of age is a different vaccine product and dosage than that for children 12 years old and older.

Many pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, Local Health Departments, Rural Health Clinics, Community Health Centers, school-based clinics, and pediatric provider offices across the state now have pediatric vaccine available. Just be sure to contact your vaccine provider to ensure they are offering the appropriate Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine formulation for your child or adolescent before making an appointment or attending a walk-up vaccine clinic.

Does my child need parental consent to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Parental consent is required for the vaccination of children in this age group. Consent may be given verbally if a parent is present, or in writing if a parent is not present.

Is it safe for my child to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Children 5 years old and older are now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Like adults, children may have some side effects after COVID-19 vaccination, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine.

It is important to note that COVID-19 vaccines have undergone—and will continue to undergo—the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Robust clinical trials featuring thousands of children were conducted to evaluate the safety and immune response to a COVID-19 vaccine in this population. Because young children are still growing and developing, researchers assessed the need for different doses of vaccines already used for adolescents and adults. As a result, children ages 5 through 11 years will receive an age-appropriate dose and formulation of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Smaller needles, specifically designed for children, will also be used to give the vaccine to children.

Cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported following COVID-19 vaccination, particularly in adolescents and young adults. While these conditions are rare, the available evidence suggests a link with mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. Overall, cases have occurred mostly in males 12-29 years old within the first week after getting the second dose of the vaccine. In general, people who developed these conditions following COVID-19 vaccination respond well to medical treatment and rest and recover. Because the known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible small risk of myocarditis or pericarditis, CDC and DSHS continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 5 years of age and older.

Parents/caregivers can enroll their child in v-safe, a free, easy-to-use smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins. Through v-safe, you can report how your child is feeling after vaccination.

Additionally, patients, caregivers, and vaccine providers are also asked to report adverse events after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), even if it is not clear that the vaccine caused the adverse event. CDC reviews all of the information and reports any serious adverse reactions.

For more information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, see the frequently asked questions in the Safety section of this page.

Discuss your options and any concerns with your healthcare provider if you have any reservations.

My child is behind on other vaccines. Can my child get other vaccinations along with the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. In addition to approving the vaccine’s use for children and adolescents, CDC updated its clinical guidance to allow COVID-19 vaccines to be administered at the same time as other routine vaccines, including live attenuated vaccines.

Is my child required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is NOT required at this time for people enrolled in child-care/Pre-K facilities or K-12 schools.

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Vaccine Availability in Texas

Who can get the vaccine now?

Everyone 5 years old and older is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas:

  • There are three COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J) authorized for people 18 years old and older.
  • The Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 orange cap vaccine is authorized for children 5 through 11 years of age.
  • The Pfizer COVID-19 purple or gray cap vaccine is authorized for adolescents 12 through 15 years of age.
  • The Pfizer COVID-19 purple or gray cap vaccine, marketed under the name COMIRNATY, is fully approved by the FDA for people 16 years old and older.

If I’m eligible for vaccine now, how do I get one?

There are many ways to stay up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines in Texas—you don’t need health insurance and the vaccine is always free. Please visit or call any of the vaccine resources below.

National Vaccine Finder

Vaccines.gov

Vaccines.gov is the CDC website that helps people find vaccines in their area.

WhatsApp (in Spanish only) – Choose from a menu to find vaccine locations near you, learn how to get free rides and childcare for your vaccine appointment, and find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Local Pharmacies

Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccine appointments or walk-ins are available. See a list of retail pharmacies providing vaccinations.

Mobile Vaccine Program

The state mobile program provides a way for Texas businesses and people who are homebound to schedule free mobile vaccinations.

  • Texas businesses, groups, or civic organizations with five or more individuals who voluntarily choose to be vaccinated can call 844-90-TEXAS (844-908-3927) and select Option 4 to schedule a visit.
  • Texans who are homebound can call 844-90-TEXAS (844-908-3927) and select Option 2 to request a state mobile vaccination team to come to their home.

Find Vaccine by Phone

  • Text your ZIP code to find vaccine, childcare, and free rides to clinics to
    • GETVAX (438829) for English
    • VACUNA (822862) for Spanish
  • Call 1-833-832-7067 (toll free) for referral to a local vaccine provider
    • Call center is open Monday–Friday 8:00am⁠–⁠6:00pm, and Saturday 8:00am–5:00pm.
    • Spanish language and other translators are available to help callers.
  • Call the national vaccine finder hotline toll free at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489)

Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler

The Texas Vaccine Scheduler helps Texans get scheduled for a COVID-19 vaccine at clinics hosted by participating Texas public health entities.

Register online at GetTheVaccine.dshs.texas.gov. You will be notified by email or text when and where to get the vaccine. If there’s not a public health clinic near you, you will be directed to other places to get your vaccine.

Call (833) 832-7067 if you don’t have internet or need help signing up.

Vaccination Services for People with Disabilities

People with disabilities needing assistance getting vaccinated can contact the Disability Rights Texas Hotline (DRTx Vaccine Hotline) by phone or email, at 1-800-880-8401 or vaccine@DRTx.org.

You can also contact the national Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) at 888-677-1199 or DIAL@n4a.org for vaccine help.

Who can provide vaccines, and how does that happen?

Any facility, organization, or healthcare provider licensed to possess or administer vaccine or provide vaccination services is eligible to enroll as a COVID-19 vaccine provider. Each facility or location, including those that are part of a hospital system or clinic network, must register at EnrollTexasIZ.dshs.texas.gov/emrlogin.asp and complete the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement.

How can a long-term care facility get residents, staff, and providers vaccinated now that the federal partnership sign-up has closed?

A long-term care facility that has not already signed up for the federal partnership program has other options to get their residents, staff, and providers vaccinated. See Long-Term Care Options for COVID-19 Vaccination (PDF) for additional information.

I am hearing that the DSHS Pharmacy Branch has vaccines available. Can I get my vaccine there?

No. The DSHS Pharmacy Branch is not a public pharmacy and does not vaccinate people. It receives and distributes medications to providers across the state. Please do not call or visit the DSHS Pharmacy Branch, as they do not vaccinate anyone at this location.

What should I do to protect myself and others if I’m not up to date with my COVID-19 vaccines?

Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect people and communities from COVID-19. There are many ways to stay up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines in Texas—you don’t need health insurance and the vaccine is always free. Please see the resources in the How to Find a Vaccine section of this website.

Whether or not you are up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, taking these steps helps prevent the spread of COVID 19:

  • Wear a mask. Vaccinated or not, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces can help protect you and everyone close to you.
  • Practice social distancing and avoid close contact with others:
    • Outside your home: Stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid crowded places.
    • Inside your home: Avoid close contact with household members who are sick. Avoid sharing personal items and use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members, if possible.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaner. You should also use a disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for COVID-19 when someone is sick or if someone who is positive for COVID-19 has been in your home within the last 24 hours.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

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Getting Vaccinated

When am I considered "fully vaccinated"? And when am I considered “up to date” with my COVID-19 vaccines?

The technical definition of “fully vaccinated” has not changed. You are considered fully vaccinated after you complete your primary series:

  • 2 weeks after your second dose on 2-dose vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) or
  • 2 weeks after your single dose on 1-dose vaccine (J&J).

However, CDC now recommends that everyone stay “up to date” by receiving all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses for those eligible and additional primary doses for the moderately to severely immunocompromised. For the most current recommendations, see the Stay Up to Date with Your Vaccines page of the CDC website.

Do I need to get vaccinated if I’ve already recovered from COVID-19?

Yes. You should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Immunity from the COVID-19 vaccine may last longer than the natural immunity you get if you’ve already had COVID-19.

People who currently have COVID-19 should not be vaccinated while they are sick. Be sure to follow CDC’s recommendations for ending isolation before getting vaccinated.

Will the primary series of my COVID-19 vaccine be one or two shots? How long after the first dose do I take the second one?

The number of doses needed to complete your primary series depends on which vaccine you receive:

  • It’s best to get the Pfizer second dose 21 days after the Pfizer first dose.
  • It’s best to get the Moderna second dose 28 days after the Moderna first dose.
  • J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine requires only one dose.

After you complete your primary series, get up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses for those eligible and additional primary doses for the moderately to severely immunocompromised.

Can I just take one of the two doses?

If you choose to get only one dose of a 2-dose vaccine, the amount of protection you may have is not known. To complete the primary series, you must receive both doses of the 2-dose vaccine series.

When you get the vaccine, you will receive information about what kind of vaccine you got and when you need to come back for your second dose (for two-dose vaccines). You can register and use the new V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker to receive health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination, as well as reminders to get your second dose if you need one.

Do I have to get the second dose from the same location I got the first dose? My provider doesn't know when they'll get another vaccine shipment.

You do not have to get your second dose from the same location as you got the first dose. If you need to locate a second dose, be sure it’s from the same manufacturer and is in the recommended dose interval. For more information, refer to the vaccination materials you received from your provider when you received your first dose. Those may include a vaccination fact sheet and/or record card. You can also refer to the Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine for Yourself or Your Child section of the CDC website for information about your vaccination card, the timing of your second dose, and booster recommendations.

If I got the first of a 2-dose vaccine but I'm unable to get the second dose within the recommended timeframe, do I have to start all over?

No, you do not have to start all over. For 2-dose vaccines, you should get your second shot as close to the recommended 21- or 28-day interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

According to CDC, if you need help scheduling your vaccine appointment for your second shot, contact the location that set up your first appointment for assistance.

The timing between your first and second shot depends on which vaccine you received:

  • It’s best to get the Pfizer second dose 21 days after the Pfizer first dose.
  • It’s best to get the Moderna second dose 28 days after the Moderna first dose.
  • J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine requires only one dose.

For two-dose vaccines, you should get your second shot as close to the recommended 21 or 28 day interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

Which vaccine should I get for COVID-19? Do I have a choice?

You always have a choice about your health care. Talk to a healthcare provider to get information specific to your situation.

Does the vaccine I choose depend on my age or underlying conditions?

Any currently authorized COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to people with underlying medical conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination or their ingredients. Your age and/or underlying conditions may affect which vaccine you are eligible to get. Also, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC now state a preference for mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) over the J&J vaccine. However, public health experts continue to say that getting any vaccine is better than being unvaccinated. J&J vaccine will remain available for people who are unable or unwilling to get an mRNA vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine is recommended for people 5 years old and older.
The Moderna vaccine is recommended for people 18 years old and older.
The J&J vaccine is recommended for people 18 years old and older.

Talk to a healthcare provider to get information specific to you and the COVID-19 vaccines currently available.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have COVID-19?

No. People who are currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation.

What are some side effects from the vaccines for COVID-19?

COVID-19 vaccines are associated with a number of side effects, but almost all of them are mild. They include pain and redness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, body aches, and even fever.

Having symptoms like fever after you get a vaccine is normal and a sign your immune system is building protection against the virus. The side effects from COVID-19 vaccination may feel like flu, but they should go away in a few days.

If you get the vaccine and experience severe side effects or ones that do not go away in a couple of days, contact your healthcare provider for further instructions on how to take care of yourself.

You can register and use the new V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker to receive health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination, as well as reminders to get your second dose if you need one.

To learn what side effects to expect and get helpful tips on how to reduce pain and discomfort after your vaccination, visit the Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine section of the CDC website.

CDC continues to closely monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines. Patients, caregivers, and vaccine providers are asked to report serious side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), even if it is not clear that the vaccine caused the adverse event. CDC reviews all of the information and reports any serious adverse reactions.

Will getting vaccinated interfere with any routine medical procedures I have planned?

Most routine medical procedures can be done before or after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. However, talk to your healthcare provider if you have any upcoming medical procedure, screening, or surgery planned and you have questions or concerns about the timing of your COVID-19 vaccination, including your booster and/or additional primary dose.

Additionally, if you’ve been recently vaccinated for COVID-19 and are due for a mammogram, ask your doctor how long you should wait after vaccination before getting the mammogram. Some people may experience swelling of the lymph node in the underarm near where they got the shot. This swelling is a common post-vaccination side effect and is a normal sign that your body is building protection against COVID-19. However, it is possible that this swelling could cause a false reading on a mammogram.

Does the vaccine react poorly with any medications, or do the prescriptions I'm taking preclude me from being able to get a vaccine?

You will need to check with your healthcare provider about whether your medication will interfere with being vaccinated.

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Safety

How do I know whether the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to make COVID-19 vaccines available. The new COVID-19 vaccines have been evaluated in tens of thousands of volunteers during clinical trials. The vaccines are only authorized for use if they are found to be safe.

For the most up-to-date information, see the Vaccine Safety section of the CDC website.

To learn about CDC’s new vaccine safety monitoring system, see the V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker section of the CDC website.

How do I report it if I have a bad reaction to a vaccine?

Patients, caregivers, and vaccine providers are asked to report serious side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), even if it is not clear that the vaccine caused the adverse event. CDC reviews all of the information and reports any serious adverse reactions.

CDC also has a smartphone-based tool called v-safe. This tool helps CDC check in on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When you get your vaccine, you should also receive a v-safe information sheet telling you how to enroll in v-safe. If you enroll, you will get regular text messages directing you to surveys. Use these surveys to report any problems or adverse reactions you have after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event, visit the Understanding Side Effects and Adverse Events section of the CDC website.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick or give me COVID-19?

No. COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you COVID-19. The vaccine does not alter your DNA. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an immune response without having to experience sickness. Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building immunity.

To learn about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the Different COVID-19 Vaccines section of the CDC website.

Can children get the vaccine, or will they rely on their natural immune system to protect them?

Children 5 years old and older are currently eligible to get the vaccine. CDC and DSHS recommend everyone 5 years old and older stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses for eligible age groups and additional primary doses for the moderately to severely immunocompromised.

Vaccines are currently in clinical trials for children 4 years old and younger. For more information, see the frequently asked questions in the Children & Teens section of this page.

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Myocarditis and Pericarditis after Vaccination

What are myocarditis and pericarditis?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. In both cases, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger.

Many different things can cause these types of inflammation, most commonly infections with a virus, including the flu, common cold viruses, and the virus that causes COVID-19. Most cases of myocarditis and pericarditis are minor, and many times don’t cause symptoms at all.

What is the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination?

Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported following COVID-19 vaccination, particularly in adolescents and young adults. While these conditions are rare, the available evidence suggests a link with mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. Most patients who received care responded well to medicine and rest and quickly felt better. Because the known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible small risk of myocarditis or pericarditis, CDC and DSHS continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 5 years of age and older.

What do we know about the cases?

  • The few reported cases of myocarditis and pericarditis were mostly in males 12-29 years old.
  • Symptoms typically began a few days to a week after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • They occurred more often following the second dose than the first.
  • Most patients saw a prompt improvement after receiving the standard medical care.

What symptoms should I look out for?

Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart

Please seek medical care if you have any of these symptoms within a week after COVID-19 vaccination.

What are the outcomes of these cases of myocarditis and pericarditis?

Most patients who received care responded well to medicine and rest and quickly felt better.

Patients can usually return to normal activity after their symptoms improve. However, patients should consult with a healthcare provider and may be advised not to participate in vigorous activity for a period of time while their heart recovers.

Should I still get myself or my child vaccinated?

Yes. DSHS and the CDC continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 5 years of age and older.

The known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible small risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. Also, most patients with myocarditis and pericarditis who received care responded well to medicine and rest and quickly felt better.

If you have concerns about COVID-19 vaccination, talk with your or your child’s doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider.

Where can I learn more about the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination?

For the most up-to-date information about this rare adverse event, see the Myocarditis and Pericarditis After mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination page of the CDC website.

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Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Safety Information

Note: On December 16, 2021, CDC updated its recommendations with a preference for people to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) over J&J. However, public health experts continue to say that getting any vaccine is better than being unvaccinated. J&J vaccine will remain available for people who are unable or unwilling to get an mRNA vaccine.

What should I do if I have received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?

After getting the J&J vaccine, it is a good idea to monitor your health and watch for symptoms that may occur. Women younger than 50 years old should especially be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after receiving the J&J vaccine. This risk has not been seen with the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). If you received a J&J COVID-19 vaccine, you can find out more about this rare but serious adverse event (referred to as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS), including what symptoms to look out for, on the CDC website.

It is important to remember that mild side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are common, particularly in the first 2-3 days after vaccination. They are a sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. Many people have pain, redness and swelling in the arm where they got the shot. They also may experience tiredness, mild headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. These side effects usually start within a day or two of getting the vaccine and usually go away within a few days.

However, you should contact a healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms within three weeks of receiving the J&J vaccine:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
  • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection

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Basics

How are the COVID-19 vaccines different from other vaccines?

Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection. But every type of vaccine works by teaching our bodies how to recognize a germ and trigger an immune response. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

Currently, there are two main types of COVID-19 vaccines that are approved/authorized in the United States:

  • mRNA vaccines
  • Vector vaccines

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both mRNA vaccines. Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Janssen vaccine is a vector vaccine.

These COVID-19 vaccines do not use the live virus and cannot give you COVID-19. The vaccine does not alter your DNA. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an immune response without having to experience sickness.

Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work on the Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work section of the CDC website.

Why should I take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Getting vaccinated will help keep you from getting COVID-19. But no vaccine is 100% effective. If you do get COVID-19, your vaccine can prevent you from getting seriously ill. Also, anyone who is old enough and able to get the vaccine should do so to protect those who are unable to get it, as well as those for whom the vaccine is less protective. That includes children under age 5 and people with certain medical conditions.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself and those around you is to stay up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines. This includes booster doses for those eligible and additional primary doses for the moderately to severely immunocompromised.

Will vaccines prevent people from getting and spreading COVID-19?

Unvaccinated people are most at risk of contracting COVID-19, including any of its variants. COVID-19 vaccines are effective and can reduce the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Early data suggest that the available vaccines are effective against severe disease and hospitalization caused by the currently circulating Omicron variant. To learn more about the emerging variants of COVID-19, see the COVID-19 Variant FAQs.

The absolute best protection for yourself and those close to you is to stay up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines including booster doses and additional primary doses for the immunocompromised.

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Effectiveness & Immunity

How effective is the vaccine against COVID-19, and for how long?

All vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. are effective at protecting against severe COVID-19 that can lead to hospitalization and death. And data show that receiveing a booster shot results in increases in antibody levels and effectiveness compared to primary vaccination.

So, the best protection against COVID-19 and any of its variants is staying up to date with all recommended vaccines. This includes booster doses for those eligible and additional primary doses for the moderately to severely immunocompromised.

To learn about efficacy rates for specific vaccines, see the CDC page on Different COVID-19 Vaccines.

Will the immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than the protection provided by the vaccine?

We are still learning about how long a recovered person is protected by “natural immunity.” We are also learning how long the vaccines’ protection, called “vaccine-induced immunity,” lasts. However, a recently published study showed that vaccines provided better protection than previous infection. Our Texas antibody project also found that the levels of antibody were higher in people who were fully vaccinated when compared to unvaccinated people with previous infection.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a safer way to gain immunity than by getting the infection itself. So, it is important that everyone stay up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses for those eligible and additional primary doses for the immunocompromised.

Will we ever achieve “herd immunity” in Texas?

Herd immunity may not be achievable. We may never eliminate the threat of COVID-19. Instead, SARS-CoV-2 may become endemic, meaning that it would be added to the list of respiratory viruses that usually circulate in Texas.

But we know that increasing the number of Texans who are vaccinated will help protect our communities, whether or not we reach herd immunity.

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More Information

Where can I get reliable information about vaccines for COVID-19?

Three excellent sources of reliable information are the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

DSHS

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

CDC

COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines

Your COVID-19 Vaccination

Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine

V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker

FDA

COVID-19 Vaccines

FDA Homepage

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Vaccine Provider FAQs

See the COVID-19 Vaccine Provider FAQs for answers to common questions for vaccinators in Texas.

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General COVID-19 FAQs

See the COVID-19 FAQs for answers to general questions about COVID-19.

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COVID-19 Variant FAQs

See the COVID-19 Variant FAQs for answers to common questions about the variants of COVID-19, including the Delta and Omicron variants.

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Last updated January 14, 2022