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Covid 19

What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines

What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines

Updated: 1/21/22

Fight the Winter Surge

  • All New Yorkers 5 and older should get fully vaccinated.
  • All eligible New Yorkers should get their booster dose.
  • All New Yorkers 6 months and older should also get their flu shot.
  • New Yorkers should get tested after traveling and before seeing family.
  • All travelers, domestic and international, should continue to follow all CDC travel requirements.
  • New Yorkers who don't feel well should stay home.
  • Wear masks in public indoor spaces and wash hands regularly.

Booster Shots

  • There are now booster recommendations for all three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States.
  • New Yorkers who are 18 and older and received their Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna initial vaccine series at least six months ago or the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago are eligible for their booster dose.
  • Teens 16-17 years old who received their Pfizer-BioNTech initial vaccine series at least six months ago are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster.
  • CDC and NYSDOH encourage all eligible New Yorkers to get their booster dose, especially those over the age of 50 and others with underlying conditions.
  • New Yorkers 18 and older can receive any of the FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines for their booster dose, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. If you have questions, talk to your health care provider or vaccine administrator. 

Who can get a vaccine and how much will it cost?

All individuals 5 years of age and older that reside in the United States are eligible to receive the vaccine. 

  • LATEST UPDATEThe CDC has recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 5 – 11 year-olds. Parents and guardians looking to schedule vaccine appointments for children ages 5 - 11 are encouraged to contact their child's pediatrician, family physician, local county health department, FQHC, or pharmacies that may be administering the vaccine for this age group.
  • The vaccine is free for everyone. If you have insurance, it may be billed but you will not be charged a copay or other fee.
  • You do not need to share your immigration status to be vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is not a public benefit under the public charge rule.
  • When you receive the vaccine, your privacy will be protected. There are strict laws in place to ensure confidentiality of your personal information. 

Where can I get a shot?

COVID vaccines are widely available at pharmacies, local health departments, clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and other locations across the state.

  • Visit to find appointments near you or contact your local pharmacy or provider.
  • To schedule an appointment directly at a New York State-run site, go to New York State's vaccine scheduler and follow the instructions. Walk-in appointments are also accepted at New York State mass vaccination sites for all eligible individuals.

What are the facts ?

FDA fact sheets for recipients and caregivers on each vaccine are available.

Are the vaccines safe?

  • Yes. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The vaccine does not contain the virus. It teaches your body’s immune system how to fight the virus, so it can fight the virus if you are exposed to it.
  • The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through large clinical studies involving tens of thousands of people of various ages, races and ethnicities. The evidence from those studies was closely reviewed by the FDA and independent organizations.
  • Researchers have been working on vaccines for coronaviruses for years, so they did not start from scratch.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and will help protect eligible children and adolescents ages 5 – 17.

Are there side effects?

  • It is normal to experience side effects after the first or second dose of the vaccine. Common side effects include soreness in the arm where you got the shot, headache, body aches, tiredness and fever.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, call 311 or talk to your health care provider.
  • Side effects can be unpleasant, but getting vaccinated helps protect you and may help protect others. 

Should I get a vaccine if I already had COVID-19?

  • Yes, since it is possible to get COVID-19 again, you should be vaccinated. Also, the vaccine is safe and may boost the protection your body has already built up. However, if you tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days, consider waiting to get vaccinated, since it is very unlikely that you will get COVID-19 again during this time. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions.

When I get vaccinated, can I stop physical distancing and wearing a face covering?

  • Due to the spread of the Delta and Omicron variant of COVID-19 the new CDC guidance encourages vaccinated people to wear masks in areas with substantial and high transmission. However, you might want to consider masking up indoors even if transmission is low in your county.
  • The real reason to add that layer of protection with masks has a lot more to do with concerns about you being vaccinated and infected, not even knowing it, and potentially passing it on to half the country, which is not vaccinated for a variety of different reasons.
  • If you're really just trying to keep it simple, you may want to just decide to wear a mask when you’re in indoor spaces with people who you don't know, and you don’t know their vaccine status, that is probably the safest thing to do.
  • When in doubt, it might just be safer to wear a mask (over your nose and mouth).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or clean with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Remember, when you get vaccinated, you are helping to protect yourself and your family and friends. You are also helping to make your community safer.  

It is understandable that some people may be nervous about getting a COVID-19 vaccine or may have more questions. To learn more, talk to your health care provider, call 311, or visit your state or local government’s web-sites. 

COVID-19: Vaccines, January 21, 2021, covid-19-vaccines-faq-palm-card, available at: