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 Doses

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

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 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster dose at least 6 months after completion of a Pfizer COVID-19 primary vaccine series in some populations. See the COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot page on the CDC website for more information.

FDA and CDC are actively working to provide additional guidance on booster doses for other populations, including those who received a primary series with Moderna and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines.

An “additional dose” is a third dose of an mRNA vaccine given to 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 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.

Are booster shots being offered?

As of September 24, 2021, CDC recommends that the following groups should receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine (COMIRNATY™) at least 6 months after completing their Pfizer primary series (i.e., the first 2 doses):

  • people aged 65 years and older
  • residents aged 18 years and older in long-term care settings
  • people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions

CDC also recommends that the following groups may receive a booster shot of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine at least 6 months after completing their Pfizer primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks:

  • people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions
  • people aged 18–64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting

These recommendations only apply to people who previously received a Pfizer COVID-19 primary series (i.e., the first 2 doses).

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

Which underlying medical conditions are included as part of this booster recommendations?

According to CDC, the following underlying medical conditions could make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 and therefore qualify you for a Pfizer booster:

  • Cancer*
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate to severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions
  • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension)
  • HIV infection*
  • Immunocompromised state*
  • Liver disease
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Pregnancy (or recent pregnancy within 42 days following end of pregnancy)
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Smoking, current or former
  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant*
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
  • Substance use disorders

*People whose immune systems are moderately to severely compromised due to one of these conditions may qualify for an additional dose of mRNA vaccine 28 days after completing the initial 2-dose series. Talk to your healthcare provider or see the COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People page on the CDC website for more information.

For the most up-to-date information, see the People with Certain Medical Conditions page of the CDC website.

Which occupations are included as part of the booster recommendation?

According to CDC, the occupations at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission include front-line essential workers and healthcare workers, including but not limited to:

  • First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
  • Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Corrections workers
  • U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers

For the most up-to-date information, see the High-Risk Settings/Occupations section of the CDC website.

Is the booster dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine the same as primary series?

Yes, the booster dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is exactly the same as the primary series and the dose is the same.

What should people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) vaccine do?

At this time, the Pfizer COVID-19 booster authorization only applies to people whose primary series was Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. People in the recommended groups who got the Moderna or J&J vaccine will likely need a booster shot. More data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and J&J shots are expected soon.

Can Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine be administered as a booster dose in people who received Moderna or J&J COVID-19 vaccine as a primary vaccination series?

Per the guidance by the CDC, currently there are insufficient data to support the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose in people who received the Moderna or J&J COVID-19 vaccines as a primary vaccination series.

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

Yes. Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-shot series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J vaccine.

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

The additional 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. If you have questions about whether you are eligible for an additional dose based on your medical condition or medical treatments, you can talk to your healthcare provider.

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

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

Do I need a doctor’s note or referral to get an additional dose if I am immunocompromised? Do I have to get the additional 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 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 dose wherever mRNA vaccines are offered. However, it is best that your additional dose is the same brand (Pfizer or Moderna) as your initial vaccine series.

I got the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) single-dose vaccine. Can I get the mRNA additional dose?

At this time, the FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) only applies to additional doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. There is not enough data to determine whether a second dose of the J&J vector vaccine will boost immunity to those whose initial dose was from J&J. CDC and DSHS will keep the public informed as they learn more.

▲ Top


Pregnant & Recently Pregnant People

Can pregnant people get the vaccine?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.

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 the 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.

Women younger than 50 years old who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine should especially be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination. There are other COVID-19 vaccines available for which this risk has not been seen. If you received a J&J COVID-19 vaccine, you can find out more about this rare but serious adverse event, 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).

▲ Top


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.

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, K-12 schools, colleges, or universities.

▲ Top


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:

▲ Top


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, the vials were not punctured, and the vaccine is not expired as per the manufacturer’s date.

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. Please see CDC’s considerations for use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in certain populations.

▲ Top


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 recommends vaccination for everyone who falls under the current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorizations and approvals:

  • All vaccines are authorized for people 18 years old and older.
  • The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people 12 through 15 years of age.
  • The Pfizer 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 get fully vaccinated 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 3 to schedule a visit.
  • Texans who are homebound can call 844-90-TEXAS (844-908-3927) and select Option 1 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 before I'm fully vaccinated?

Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect people and communities from COVID-19. There are many ways to get fully vaccinated 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 to find out how to get fully vaccinated.

Until you are fully vaccinated, it is critical that you 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. 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.

▲ Top


Getting Vaccinated

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.

Will the 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 depends on which vaccine you receive:

  • It’s best to get the Pfizer second dose 3 to 6 weeks after the Pfizer first dose.
  • It’s best to get the Moderna second dose 4 to 6 weeks after the Moderna first dose.
  • J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine requires only one dose.

Can I just take one of the two doses?

If you choose to get only one dose of a two-dose vaccine, the amount of protection you may have is not known.

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. But for two-dose vaccines, please try to get both doses from the same vaccine provider. However, 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.

If I got the first of a two-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. Missing the suggested interval delays full protection. But you can still get the second dose later if you have difficulty getting it within the recommended time. Just don’t get it earlier than recommended.

According to CDC, if you need help scheduling your vaccine appointment for your second shot, contact the location that set up your appointment for assistance. Two-dose vaccines will need two shots to get the most protection.

The timing between your first and second shot depends on which vaccine you received. You should get your second shot:

  • It’s best to get the Pfizer second dose 3 to 6 weeks after the Pfizer first dose.
  • It’s best to get the Moderna second dose 4 to 6 weeks 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 3-week or 1-month 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 also affect when you are eligible to get the vaccine. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) does not state a product preference.

The Pfizer vaccine is recommended for people 12 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 with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.

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.

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.

▲ Top


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.

Even though they found no major safety issues during the clinical trials, CDC and other federal partners will continue to monitor the new vaccines. They watch out for serious side effects (or “adverse events”) using vaccine safety monitoring systems, like the new V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker app.

On April 13, 2021, close monitoring led CDC, FDA and DSHS to recommend providers temporarily pause administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as further evaluation was done. 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.

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?

CDC has a new smartphone-based tool for this effort 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.

Read about v-safe with the V-safe Information Sheet (PDF).

According to CDC’s website, CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This national system collects these data to look for adverse events. Those may include ones that are unexpected, ones that appear to happen more often than expected or ones that have unusual patterns of occurrence. Reports to VAERS help CDC monitor the safety of vaccines.

Safety is a top priority. 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.

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.

For more information about the reporting system, visit the VAERS website or call 800-822-7967.

You should also let your doctor know about your reaction. According to CDC, healthcare providers will need to report some vaccine side effects to VAERS.

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?

At this time, experts do not know how safe the COVID-19 vaccine is for young children. People 12 years old and older are currently eligible to get the vaccine in Texas. Vaccines are currently in clinical trials for children 11 years old and younger. For more information, see the frequently asked questions in the Children & Teens section of this page.

▲ Top


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.

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.

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

Studies have shown that the available vaccines are effective against disease and hospitalization caused by COVID-19 and its variants, including the Delta variant. Unvaccinated people are most at risk of contracting COVID-19, including any of its variants. The now predominant Delta variant is more aggressive than other known variants and spreads most rapidly in communities with fewer fully vaccinated people.

To learn more about the Delta variant, visit the Delta Variant: What We Know About the Science page on the CDC website.

The absolute best protection for yourself and those close to you is getting fully vaccinated. The vaccine is proven to safely protect you from COVID-19’s worst effects and lowers your chances of spreading the virus. Greatly increasing the number of fully vaccinated Texans is the only way to prevent a devastating rise in the spread of the pandemic virus.

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.

▲ Top


Effectiveness & Immunity

How effective will the vaccine be 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. The best protection against COVID-19 and any of its variants is getting fully vaccinated. At this time, experts do not know how long protection will last. 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.

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, getting vaccinated is a much safer way to build protection than getting infected with COVID-19.

Recent data shows that unvaccinated individuals are more likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated after having COVID-19. This new information suggests that COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone. It also shows that vaccines, when given to people with prior infection, help prevent reinfections.

CDC and DSHS will keep the public informed as more information becomes available.

Will we ever achieve “herd immunity” in Texas?

Experts are still learning about whether herd immunity can be achieved for COVID-19 and, if so, what percentage of Texans would need to be vaccinated or experience natural infection to achieve it.

The term “herd immunity” describes when enough people have protection, either from a previous infection or from vaccination, that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread between people in a community and cause disease. The percentage needed to reach herd immunity varies by disease and depends on how contagious that disease is. More contagious diseases need a higher percentage of the population to have been vaccinated or infected to achieve herd immunity.

Some of the recent variants (strains) of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) are more contagious than previous variants and may impact our ability to reach herd immunity. CDC and DSHS will keep the public informed as more information becomes available.

▲ Top


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

▲ Top


Vaccine Provider FAQs

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

▲ Top


General COVID-19 FAQs

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

▲ Top


Delta Variant FAQs

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

▲ Top


Last updated October 6, 2021