COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

COVID-19 header image

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 series (2-dose series of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine [Pfizer or Moderna] or a single dose of J&J COVID-19 vaccine). This is recommended only for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, because they may not have received adequate protection from their initial series. See the COVID-19 Vaccines for People who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised 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. There are national recommendations for a single vaccine booster dose in some populations. See the COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters page on the CDC website for more information.

Booster Doses

Who should get a booster shot and when?

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.

The timing of your booster dose depends on which vaccine you received for your primary series. For complete details, see the COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters recommendations (CDC).

If you have further questions about whether you should get a COVID-19 booster shot and when, talk to your healthcare provider.

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.

If you are moderately to severely immunocompromised, you should also get an additional primary 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 and/or booster dose(s) as nationally recommended. For complete details, see the Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 Vaccines page of the CDC website.

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. Please refer to national booster vaccination recommendations for people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems (CDC) to see if a booster dose is recommended for your age group.

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

Yes. A single booster dose is recommended at least 2 months after the second (additional) dose, for a total of 3 doses (1 J&J vaccine dose followed by 1 additional mRNA [Pfizer or Moderna] dose, then 1 booster dose). An mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine is preferred for the booster dose.

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

Additional Primary Doses for the Immunocompromised

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?

It depends.

  • If you received a 2-dose mRNA vaccine for your primary series (Pfizer or Moderna), your additional primary dose should be from the same vaccine brand (manufacturer) as your initial vaccine series.
  • If you received the single-dose J&J vaccine for your primary series, you should get an additional primary dose of either mRNA vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna.

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

  • Pfizer additional primary dose: available for moderately to severely immunocompromised people 5 years old and older.
    • Children 6 months to 4 years old who are immunocompromised are currently recommended to get three doses, which is the same for children who are not immunocompromised.
  • Moderna additional primary dose: available for moderately to severely immunocompromised people 6 months 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.

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

Yes. Moderately and severely immunocompromised people 18 years old and older who received a single J&J COVID-19 vaccine as their primary series should receive an additional primary dose at least 28 days after their first dose. The additional primary dose must be an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine.

A single booster dose is recommended at least 2 months after the second (additional) dose, for a total of 3 doses (1 J&J COVID-19 vaccine dose followed by 1 additional mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose, then 1 booster dose). Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA) boosters are preferred for the booster dose.

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 with an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. People who are pregnant or recently pregnant are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with people who are not pregnant.

Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.

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 may take acetaminophen (Tylenol) and consult with your doctor. Fever—for any reason—has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

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. The v-safe pregnancy registry (CDC) gathers 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 6 months old and older are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. For the most current information, see the national vaccine recommendations for children and teens (CDC).

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

It depends. For the most up-to-date information, see the COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters page on the CDC website.

Should my immunocompromised child receive an additional dose after completing their initial primary vaccine series?

It depends. For the most up-to-date information, see the COVID-19 Vaccines for People who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised 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 6 months old and older.

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

Promptly vaccinating children 6 months old and older 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 Families and COVID-19 sections of the CDC website.

Can my child get vaccinated at any clinic?

Yes. But it's important to note that there are special pediatric vaccine products for children. Check with the clinic to make sure they have the age-appropriate pediatric vaccine available.

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. More than 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. Children 6 months 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, young children will receive an age-appropriate dose and formulation of the 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 outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible small risk of myocarditis or pericarditis, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people 6 months 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. Parents must first be enrolled in v-safe before they enroll their children.

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. National public health reviews all 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. COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same time as other routine vaccines, including live and attenuated vaccines, in children 6 months old and older.

Is my child required to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

No. While the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended adding routine COVID-19 immunization to the 2023 immunization schedules for adults and children, that recommendation does not create any federal vaccination mandate. Texas has no state or local COVID-19 immunization requirements. Pursuant to Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-39, which has been in effect since August 25, 2021, no government entity in Texas can mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.

DSHS will follow the direction of GA-39 and the Texas Legislature with respect to any COVID-19 or other new vaccine requirements.

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Vaccine Availability in Texas

Who can get the vaccine now?

Everyone 6 months old and older is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas.

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 (CDC) 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 national 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 833-832-7068 to schedule a visit.
  • Texans who are homebound can call 833-832-7067 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–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)

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.

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, so it's important to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination. 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:

  • Consider wearing a well-fitting 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 2 weeks after you complete your primary series.

However, national recommendations encourage everyone to stay “up to date” by receiving all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses for those eligible (CDC) and additional primary doses for the moderately to severely immunocompromised (CDC). For the most current recommendations, see the Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 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 studies indicate vaccination after recovering from COVID-19 infection further increases immunity and better protects you from being hospitalized. People who recently had COVID-19 may consider delaying the vaccine by three months but should talk with their doctor about their specific situation.

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

How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine do I need to complete my primary series?

The number of doses in a primary series varies based on age and vaccine manufacturer.

For detailed dosing schedules, see how to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines (CDC).

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. There is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine, but you should get the second dose as close to the recommended interval as possible. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval (CDC).

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

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.

National public health recommendations include a preference for Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines in most situations.

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 ending isolation (CDC).

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

Similar to other vaccines, 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.

Public health officials continue 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 the national public health 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. Public health reviews all of the information and reports any serious adverse reactions.

A national smartphone-based tool called v-safe is also available. This tool helps public health 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 yourself and your child in v-safe. Once 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.

To learn more about the national public health vaccine safety monitoring system, see the V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker section of the CDC website.

For more information about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event, visit the Understanding Adverse Events and Side Effects 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 About 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 6 months old and older are currently eligible to get the vaccine. National public health recommendations encourage everyone 6 months old and older to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines (CDC), including booster doses for eligible age groups (CDC) and additional primary doses for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (CDC).

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 males 12-39 years old. While these conditions are rare, he 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, national public health experts continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months old and older. The risk might be reduced by extending the time between dose 1 and dose 2 for people who are not immunocompromised. Talk with your doctor or your child’s doctor about your specific situation if you have concerns.

What do we know about the cases?

  • The few reported cases of myocarditis and pericarditis were mostly in males 12-39 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 or the booster doses.
  • 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. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months old 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 get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Getting vaccinated will help keep you from getting COVID-19. It also protects your family and your community. 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 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 (CDC).

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 our COVID-19 Variant FAQs and the What You Need to Know About Variants page of the CDC website.

The best protection for yourself and those close to you is to stay up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines.

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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 receiving booster shots 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 (CDC). This includes booster doses for those eligible (CDC) and additional primary doses for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (CDC).

To learn about efficacy rates, see the CDC page on Monitoring COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness.

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, studies show 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.

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?

There are excellent state and federal sources of reliable information:

DSHS

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

CDC

COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

FAQs about COVID-19 Vaccination

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 October 31, 2022