COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

COVID-19 header image

On this page are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines in development and their distribution across Texas.

On this page:


Children & Teens

Can my child get vaccinated for COVID-19?

It depends. Children 12 years old and older are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people ages 12 years to 17 years, and it is the same vaccine already widely available across the state for use in adults.

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

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

Although fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Getting your child vaccinated helps to protect your child and your family. Vaccination is now recommended for everyone 12 years old and older. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is the only one available to children 12 years old and older.

Promptly vaccinating children ages 12 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.

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?

No. At this time, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people ages 12 years to 17 years. Be sure to contact your vaccine provider to ensure they are offering the Pfizer vaccine 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 or in writing; the parent or guardian does not need to be present for the adolescent to be vaccinated, unless required by the vaccine provider.

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

Yes. Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Like adults, children may have some side effects after COVID-19 vaccination. These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Children 12 years old and older are now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, including studies in children 12 years old and older. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine.

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 adolescents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its clinical guidance to allow COVID-19 vaccines to be administered at the same time as other routine vaccines.

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Myocarditis and Pericarditis after Vaccination

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rare cases of inflammation of the heart within a week of vaccination with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The reports are rare, given the number of people in the United States vaccinated with one of the mRNA vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. More than 165 million people in the US and more than 11 million people in Texas have received these COVID-19 vaccines.

Most patients who received care responded well to medicine and rest and quickly felt better. The CDC and its partners are working to see if there is a relationship between vaccination and the inflammation, called myocarditis and pericarditis. To help with this, healthcare providers should report any cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination to VAERS.

What do we know about the cases?

  • The few reported cases of myocarditis and pericarditis were mostly in young men ages 16 years and older.
  • 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 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 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 12 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.

Recommendations to Clinicians:

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Johnson & Johnson Safety Information

Why was use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine paused?

On April 13, the CDC, FDA, and DSHS recommended a pause in the use of the vaccine after reports of six cases of extremely rare but serious cases of blood clots with low platelet count were reported in women who had received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) vaccine. This pause allowed public health professionals and regulators to conduct an extensive safety review, alert the public to the issue and give healthcare professionals information on how to treat these rare side effects.

What did health authorities decide after the safety review?

On April 23, a CDC advisory committee determined that the vaccine is safe and effective and its benefits outweigh the potential risks. The committee recommends the vaccine for anyone age 18 years and older in the United States. The CDC, FDA, and DSHS agree with that recommendation and are asking providers to resume administering it.

The safety review identified a total of 15 cases of rare but serious blood clots in combination with low platelets out of the more than seven million people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the U.S. Most were in women between the ages of 18 and 49 who experienced the first symptoms one to two weeks after vaccination.

The CDC estimates that using the vaccine in the United States will prevent more than 2,200 intensive care admissions and 1,400 deaths over the next six months. While the risk of these side effects is very low, public health and regulators will continue to monitor COVID-19 vaccines for safety.

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.

It is important to remember that mild side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are common, particularly in the first two to three days of 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

If I am a vaccine provider and have Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine from before the pause, can it be used now?

Yes, as long as your supply of J&J vaccine has been properly stored and the vials were not punctured.

Are there restrictions on using the J&J vaccine in certain patient populations?

No, advisory committee did not recommend any restrictions on the use of the J&J vaccine in specific patient populations.

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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 three main types of COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized and recommended, or undergoing large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials in the United States:

  • mRNA vaccines
  • Protein subunit vaccines
  • Vector vaccines

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

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.

On April 13, 2021, the J&J/Janssen vaccine was temporarily paused because six people experienced a rare and severe type of blood clot with low platelet count. After a thorough safety review during the 11 day pause, a CDC advisory committee determined on April 23, 2021 that the vaccine is safe and effective, and its benefits outweigh the potential risks. The committee recommends the vaccine for anyone age 18 years and older in the United States. The CDC, FDA, and DSHS agree with that recommendation and are asking providers to resume administering it. For more information, see the Johnson & Johnson Safety Information section.

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.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine once it is available to you represents one step that you can take to get the Texas economy, and our day-to-day lives, back to normal.

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Vaccine Availability in Texas

Who can get the vaccine now?

As of Wednesday, May 12, 2021, everyone 12 years old and older is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas.

The state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel recommended opening vaccination to everyone who falls under the current Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations. All vaccines are authorized for people 18 years old and older. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people 12 years old and older.

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

There are multiple tools to help you find vaccine in Texas. Check these tools frequently, as more providers and pharmacies will be added to each over the coming weeks.

National Vaccine Finder

Vaccines.gov

Large Vaccination Hub List

Beginning in January, Texas established large vaccination sites or hubs around the state. Check the COVID‑19 Vaccination Hub Providers page to find a hub near you and learn how to register.

Retail Pharmacies List

Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccine appointments are available. On March 29, the White House announced that the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program is doubling the number of pharmacies receiving the vaccine by April 19. To find out which pharmacies are participating in the program, visit CDC’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program website.

Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler

The new 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 an available 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. Call center support is available Monday–Friday from 8am⁠–⁠6pm and Saturday from 8am–5pm.

Spanish language and other translators are available to help callers.

Find Vaccine by Phone

Texas businesses or civic organizations can call 844-90-TEXAS (844-908-3927) and select Option 3 to schedule a visit from a state mobile vaccine team to vaccinate employees, visitors, or members. To qualify for a visit, a business or civic organization must have five or more employees, visitors, or members who voluntarily choose to be vaccinated. Homebound Texans are also encouraged to call the hotline and select Option 1 to request a state mobile vaccination team to visit their home.

Americans can now text their ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish to immediately receive addresses of nearby available vaccination centers.

Do you know someone who is eligible for a vaccine but doesn’t have internet access? Please let them know they can call (833) 832-7067 for referral to a local vaccine provider.

Tips for Your Vaccine Search

When searching for a vaccination site, remember:

  • While vaccine supply and distribution are expanding, not all local providers have vaccine each week and hubs may have waiting lists.
  • Do not show up at a hub or provider looking for a vaccine.
  • Instead, check the provider’s website. Call only if the website doesn’t answer your questions.

I am at least 75 years old and can’t leave my house. How can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Texas launched the COVID-19 “Save Our Seniors Initiative” to identify and vaccinate Texans who are 75+ or are homebound.

To register, contact your Local County Judge or Local Office for Emergency Management to let them know you want to sign up.

Counties currently participating include Angelina, Atascosa, Caldwell, Cherokee, Culberson, Eastland, El Paso, Hale, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hopkins, Houston, Jim Hogg, Kimble, Leon, Llano, Maverick, Milam, Nueces, Rusk, Taylor, Tyler, Val Verde, and Webb.

Click on the link below to read more about the Save Our Seniors Initiative.

Governor Abbott Announces Save Our Seniors Initiative to Vaccinate Homebound Seniors in Texas

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 before I'm fully vaccinated?

Practice the same safety habits you’ve been doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Take the following precautions to limit exposure for yourself and others:

  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering in public and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when social distancing is not possible.
  • 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 and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a household disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for COVID-19.
  • 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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Effectiveness

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

Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also keep you from getting severely ill if you do get COVID-19. Experts are still learning how well vaccines prevent spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC and DSHS will keep the public informed as they learn more.

When am I considered fully vaccinated?

You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose on two-dose vaccines and 2 weeks after your single dose on one-dose vaccines.

For the most up-to-date information, see the When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated section of the CDC website.

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

All vaccines currently authorized for use in the US are highly effective at protecting against severe COVID-19 that can lead to hospitalization and death. At this time, experts do not know how long protection will last or whether a booster shot will be necessary later, after the initial recommended vaccine dose(s). CDC and DSHS will keep the public informed as they learn more.

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

Last updated June 29, 2021