COVID-19 Vaccine General FAQ
This information is based on current recommendations, available evidence, resources, information, and expert opinion and is subject to change. As additional evidence regarding the use of COVID-19 vaccine for individuals emerges, it will be necessary to modify this content. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html
What do we know about the variants?
- New variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are expected to occur.
- CDC is working with state and local public health officials to monitor the spread of all variants.
- The Omicron variant continues to spread throughout communities and can infect people who have been vaccinated or have previously had COVID-19.
- Staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines reduces your risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
Why should children 6 months and older get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Children who get COVID-19 can get very sick, can require treatment in a hospital, and in rare situations, can even die. The benefit of getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer, more reliable way to build protection than risking the potentially serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19. After getting COVID-19, children and teens can also experience a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. Getting eligible children vaccinated can help prevent them from getting really sick even if they do get infected and help prevent serious short- and long-term complications of COVID-19.
Vaccinating children can also give parents greater confidence in their children participating in childcare, school, and other activities. The known risks of COVID-19 and possible severe complications—such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death—outweigh the potential risks of having a rare, adverse reaction to vaccination.
Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine booster?
Yes. Recent data suggest COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time, especially for certain groups of people, such as people ages 65 years and older and people with immunocompromise.
The emergence of COVID-19 variants further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.
Data show that an mRNA booster increases the immune response, which improves protection against getting a serious COVID-19 infection.
CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone ages 6 months and older, and boosters for everyone 5 years and older, if eligible.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, including recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Use CDC’s COVID-19 Booster Tool to learn if and when you can get boosters to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.
Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Commonly known side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are short-term injection site pain, fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, and joint pain. These symptoms are temporary and are in line with side effects some people experience from other vaccines, including the flu shot and the vaccine to prevent shingles.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and severe reactions after vaccination are rare.
Vaccines work to fight disease by producing an immune response within the body, and sometimes that means flu-like symptoms occur as your body responds to the vaccine; it is normal and expected.
If I am pregnant, can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, if you are pregnant, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot.
You might want to have a conversation with your healthcare provider to help you decide whether to get vaccinated. While such conversation might be helpful, it is not required before vaccination. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you are pregnant and have received a COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to enroll in v-safe, the CDC’s smartphone-based tool that provides personalized health check-ins after vaccination. A v-safe pregnancy registry has been established to gather information on the health of pregnant people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
People who are pregnant or recently pregnant are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with people who are not pregnant. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you from severe illness due to COVID-19.
How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will I need to complete my primary series??
The number of vaccine doses you need to complete your primary series depends on which vaccine you receive.
- 2 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 3–8* weeks apart for people 5 years and older, or
- 3 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for ages 6 months through 4 years, first and second dose 3-8 weeks apart, second and third dose at least 8 weeks apart*.
- 2 doses of Moderna vaccine 4–8* weeks apart for people ages 6 months and older.
- 2 doses of Novavax vaccine 3-8* weeks apart for people ages 12 years and older.
- 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) vaccine for people ages 18 and older.
*Talk to your healthcare or vaccine provider about the timing for the second dose in your primary series. You should not get the second dose early.
People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may have a different immune response following COVID-19 vaccination. Please see specific COVID-19 vaccination guidance for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
If I didn't get my second dose of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine within the recommended time, do I need to start over?
No. If you receive your second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at any time after the recommended date, you do not have to restart the vaccine series. This guidance might be updated as more information becomes available.
Learn more about staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.
Do I still need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I am vaccinated?
Generally, if you are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings. Check your local COVID-19 Community Level for recommendations on when to wear a mask indoors and additional precautions you can take to protect yourself from COVID-19. If you are immunocompromised or more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, learn more about how to protect yourself.