Note: This information is based on currently available evidence, resources, information, emergency use authorization, and expert opinion, and is subject to change.
Vaccination: Virginia COVID Information Center (VCIC) General Information
The Virginia COVID information Center’s (VCIC’s) resources can be accessed anytime online and by phone Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m ET at 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682).
There are Spanish and English-speaking agents, as well as additional language services in over 100 languages to assist those residents and workers who speak other languages.
In order to reach the call center via Virginia Relay, including by TTY, please dial 7-1-1.
ASL users have two ways to connect: by videophone at 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682) or by clicking the “ASL Now” button at vaccinate.virginia.gov.
Vaccination: How To Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
To find an appointment, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov, call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682), or text your zip code to GETVAX (438829) for English or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish.
At vaccinate.virginia.gov, you can access the “Search by Location” feature which allows you to enter the street address where you usually live. You will then be provided options for making an appointment. Most clinics (including Community Vaccination Centers) offer walk-in service in addition to scheduled appointments.
No, government-issued photo identification is not required for vaccination. It is important however, to have some way to confirm your identity (i.e. name, date of birth) so we can confirm that we are vaccinating the right person.
Many clinics offer walk-in service in addition to scheduled appointments.
Visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) to find a vaccine. The website includes a simple address search to help you find the most convenient ways to get vaccinated.
The COVID-19 vaccine “must be provided to vaccine recipients with no out-of-pocket costs,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While the federal government is picking up the cost of the vaccine doses people across the country are getting, some healthcare providers and clinics can get paid for administering the vaccines. For those people with health insurance, this cost is typically billed to the insurance company. Even if you do not have health insurance you can still get a COVID-19 vaccine for free.
This depends on the setting. In general, people who have had a recent known COVID-19 exposure should not seek vaccination until their quarantine period has ended. This is to avoid potentially exposing healthcare personnel and other persons to the virus that causes COVID-19 during the vaccination visit.
Exceptions to this are made in the following settings: people living in congregate healthcare settings (e.g., long-term care facilities) and residents of other congregate settings (e.g., correctional and detention facilities, homeless shelters)
All COVID-19 vaccination sites in Virginia are ADA-compliant. If you need special accommodations when going to get your or your child’s vaccination, please reach out to your local health department. To schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine visit vaccinate.virginia.gov/ or call 1-877-VAX-IN VA (1-877-829-4682) Monday through Friday from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm ET.
You can also utilize the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL). For additional information about DIAL, visit acl.gov/dial. You can contact DIAL at 888-677-1199 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern) or email DIAL@n4a.org.
Vaccination: Why Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19
It is difficult to predict the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. As can be seen from the recent increase in COVID-19 case numbers from infections with Omicron variant viruses, there is always a risk of a future resurgence with a new variant of COVID-19.
There’s no way to know ahead of time how getting COVID-19 disease could affect you. For example, we still don’t know why some healthy but unvaccinated people become seriously ill or die from COVID-19, while other healthy people only become mildly sick. In addition, people with mild or even asymptomatic disease can also continue suffering from Long COVID. However, once vaccinated, your body will start building immunity to the virus so you are less likely to get infected, less likely to get seriously ill, less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others, and less likely to get Long COVID. Staying up to date with regard to COVID-19 vaccination will reduce your chances of getting COVID-19 disease at all and will make it very likely that even if you do get the virus, you will have only mild symptoms or none at all. For 2021 and 2020, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
All available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, including among children 5 years and older, for preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Based on results of antibody studies, we expect the same to be true for children 6 months and older.
In addition, some people who already had Long COVID after an earlier infection noted an improvement of their symptoms after they received COVID-19 vaccine. The potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccines on Long COVID are now being studied carefully and results will hopefully be available soon.
More information on Long COVID and other long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 illness can be found on the CDC webpage.
At the top of all VDH web pages is a Google Translate button that says 'Select Language.' Clicking on this button translates web page content into 100+ different languages immediately. From there, you can go to the main page at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/ where you can learn more about COVID-19 vaccines.
The vdh.virginia.gov website is providing the “Google Translate” option to assist you in reading the vdh.virginia.gov website in languages other than English. Google Translate cannot translate all types of documents, and may not provide an exact translation.
En la parte superior de todas las páginas web de VDH, hay un botón del Traductor de Google que dice 'Select Language.' (Seleccionar idioma). Al hacer clic en este botón, el contenido de la página web se traduce inmediatamente a más de 100 idiomas diferentes. Desde allí, puede ir a la página principal en: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/ donde puede obtener más información sobre las vacunas contra COVID-19.
El sitio web vdh.virginia.gov ofrece la opción "Traductor de Google" para ayudarlo a leer el sitio web de vdh.virginia.gov en otros idiomas además de inglés. Google Translate no puede traducir todos los tipos de documentos y es posible que no proporcione una traducción exacta.
في الجزء العلوي من جميع صفحات موقع الويب الخاص بـ VDH، يوجد زر "تحديد اللغة" لترجمة جوجل "Google Translate"، يؤدي النقر على هذا الزر إلى ترجمة محتوى صفحة الويب على الفور إلى أكثر من 100 لغة مختلفة. من هناك، يمكنك الانتقال إلى الصفحة الرئيسية على: /https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine حيث يمكنك معرفة المزيد عن لقاحات COVID-19.
يقدم موقع vdh.virginia.gov خيار ترجمة جوجل أو "Google Translate" لمساعدتكم على تصفح موقع vdh.virginia.gov بلغات أخرى غير الإنجليزية. لا يمكن لـ Google Translate ترجمة جميع أنواع المستندات، وقد لا توفر ترجمة دقيقة.
모든 VDH 웹 페이지의 상단에 '언어 선택(Select Language)'이라는 Google 번역 버튼이 있습니다.' 이 버튼을 클릭하면 즉시 웹 페이지 콘텐츠가 100가지 이상의 다른 언어로 변환됩니다. 거기에서 https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/의 메인 페이지로 이동합니다. 그곳에서 COVID-19 백신에 대해 자세히 확인하실 수 있습니다.
Sa kabuuan ng lahat ng mga web page ng VDH, may Google Translate button na nagsasabing 'Piliin ang Wika.' Ang pag-click sa button na ito ay nagsasalin ng content ng web page sa 100+ na iba't ibang wika agad. Mula rito, maaari kang magpunta sa main page sa: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/ kung saan matututunan mo ang tungkol sa mga bakuna ng COVID-19.
Ang website ngvdh.virginia.gov ay ibinibigay ang “Google Translate” na opsyon para alalayan ka sa pagbabasa sa website ng vdh.virginia.gov sa iba pang wika maliban sa Ingles. Ang Google Translate ay hindi kayang isalin ang lahat ng uri ng mga dokumento, at maaaring hindi makapagbigay ng eksaktong pagsasalin.
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is a standard protein (and non-mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine that has been in development for more than a year. Its primary vaccination series as studied to date has included two 5 mcg doses intended to be given from 3-8 weeks apart to people 18 years and older. Each dose also includes 50 mcg of an “adjuvant,” a substance that amplifies the immune system’s response to the vaccine.
The Novavax vaccine is NOT currently approved or recommended to be given as a booster dose after a primary series of COVID-19 vaccination nor is it authorized or recommended to be given as a third (additional) dose to immunocompromised people.
Preliminary Novavax clinical trial data indicate an overall 90% effectiveness in preventing infection with pre-Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 (including 79% effectiveness in people 65 years and older) and 100% overall effectiveness in preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalization, and death.
The Novavax vaccine will be available in Virginia in mid- August. A recent statement on the vaccine from VDH provides additional details.
Vaccination: Vaccine Development + Safety
mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid.
The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use mRNA to cause a two-stage immune response. First, the vaccines’ mRNA teaches your cells to make a specific non-infectious COVID-19 protein. Then this new protein stimulates your immune system to respond against COVID-19. That immune response produces antibodies and other forms of immunity that help keep you from becoming infected if you are later exposed to COVID-19.
The mRNA in the COVID-19 vaccines does NOT get into the nucleus of your cells or put germs into your body. These two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines will not change your DNA or your body’s other genetic material in any way.These mRNA COVID-19 vaccines do not inject spike proteins into your body.
Additional information about the development of mRNA vaccines is available.
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is an “adjuvanted protein” vaccine. The Novavax vaccine uses a more traditional approach, by injecting the spike proteins of the coronavirus, stimulating the immune system to respond directly to those proteins. The vaccine also contains an adjuvant, a substance that amplifies the responses of the immune system to the spike proteins. Adjuvants have already been in use for many years in a number of U.S. vaccines such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis / whooping cough).
Information on the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is available on the CDC website.
A complete list of this vaccine’s ingredients can be found in the fact sheet. (Last updated 5/17/2022)
Type of vaccine: mRNA
Number of injections (shots):
- 2 injections, at least 21 days apart for individuals aged 5 years and older
- 3 injections, at least 21 days apart between dose 1 and dose 2, and 8 weeks between dose 2 and dose 3 for individuals aged 6 months through 4 years
How given: injections in the muscle of the upper arm
This vaccine does not contain: eggs, preservatives, gelatin, or latex
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is recommended for people aged 6 months and older.
Information on the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine can be found on the CDC website.
A complete list of this vaccine’s ingredients can be found in the fact sheet. (Last updated 6/17/22)
Type of vaccine: mRNA
Number of injections (shots): 2 injections, at least 28 days apart
How given: Injection in the muscle of the upper arm
This vaccine does not contain: eggs, preservatives, gelatin, or latex
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people aged 6 months and older.
Information on the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine can be found on the CDC website. (Last updated May 5, 2022)
A complete list of this vaccine’s ingredients can be found in the fact sheet.
Type of vaccine: adenoviral vector for spike protein
Number of injections (shots): 1 injection
How given: Injection in the muscle of the upper arm
This vaccine does not contain: eggs, preservatives, gelatin, or latex
The Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen Biotech) COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people aged 18 years and older.
The FDA has limited the use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine due to safety issues. The J&J COVID-19 vaccine should only be given to individuals 18 years and older whom mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not accessible or clinically appropriate and/or who would otherwise not receive a vaccine. Please see the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety page for more information.
Information on the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine can be found on the CDC website. A complete list of this vaccine’s ingredients can be found on the vaccine’s Fact Sheet and on the CDC website. Although it DOES contain polysorbate-80, the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine does NOT contain any preservatives, antibiotics, other medicines, fetal cells, heavy metals, microelectronics, latex, or food proteins such as eggs, gluten, peanuts, or any other nut products.
Type of vaccine: protein vaccine with adjuvant;
Number of injections: two as a primary series, given 3-8 weeks apart.
How given: upper arm muscle
Age range: 18 years and older
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may be administered to all age groups without regard to timing. This includes getting a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day, as well as coadministration within 14 days. This includes the Flu, Pneumococcal, Tdap, and Shingles vaccine.
Yes. Getting COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy can protect you and your fetus and infant from severe illness from COVID-19.
Currently and recently pregnant people are more likely than non-pregnant people to get severely ill if they get COVID-19. Pregnant women with some underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or obesity, are at even greater risk. Having COVID-19 disease while pregnant has been associated with stillbirths, preterm birth, low birth weight babies, and other adverse outcomes of pregnancy. A study showed that infants whose mothers received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy were 61% less likely to be hospitalized in their first six months of life compared to infants of unvaccinated mothers.
The CDC, VDH, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) all recommend that pregnant or breast-feeding women or other women who intend to get pregnant and who otherwise are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination should be COVID-19 vaccinated and then stay up to date with vaccination. The most recently updated ACOG recommendations are available and a joint message about COVID-19 vaccination from ACOG and SMFM is also available.
CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have several vaccine safety monitoring systems in place to collect and study information about vaccination during pregnancy and continue to closely monitor that information. Results from CDC’s v-safe voluntary after-vaccination health check system, with public data that is updated weekly, show that a large number of women who received COVID-19 vaccines have had pregnancies, with no vaccine-specific safety issues identified.
In addition, CDC has established a specific v-safe COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry to learn more about these issues and initial data from this registry show similar vaccine side effects for pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. The most up to date numbers are available.
The safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines has been described as “the most comprehensive of any vaccine in US history.”
CDC and FDA continuously monitor the safety of vaccines.These agencies use at least five different systems to monitor vaccine safety:
- The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS): VAERS is an early warning system that helps CDC and FDA identify potential problems following vaccination. Anyone can and should report possible vaccine side effects to VAERS. However, most of the VAERS monitoring is done by U.S. healthcare providers providing anonymous data from hundreds of millions of patients being vaccinated. This system alerts the CDC and FDA if healthcare systems begin reporting unusual patterns of adverse effect information about events that occur after vaccinations.
NOTE: every healthcare provider who administers COVID-19 vaccines is required to report all serious health events occurring soon after vaccination to the VAERS system even if it seems clear that the death was not related to the vaccine. VAERS is therefore set up as an early warning system to collect as much data as possible about any and all events that may or may not turn out to be side effects of vaccines. Those data are then examined closely to verify the events and to identify any clusters or groups of unexpected serious or severe post-vaccine events. Because the data submitted to - and made publicly available by - VAERS has not yet been verified, the VAERS system clearly cannot determine whether a vaccine caused any specific side effect. VAERS is NOT - and is NOT INTENDED TO BE - a reliable source of information on vaccine side effects. Therefore, drawing conclusions from these publicly available but unverified VAERS screening data alone without the follow-up investigations is scientifically and ethically inappropriate because it is likely to lead to erroneous conclusions.
A description of how VAERS works is available.
- The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD): a collaboration between CDC and nine health care organizations around the United States, which allows ongoing monitoring and proactive searches of vaccine-related data.
- The Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project: a partnership between CDC and several medical centers that conducts clinical research on vaccine-associated health risks.
- V-safe is a cell phone-based CDC system that individual COVID-19 vaccine recipients can use to notify CDC if they develop any side effects. Each vaccinated person should download a v-safe app onto their cell phone as soon as they receive the vaccine. Instructions on how to download and use v-safe will be given out when you get the vaccine. v-safe will also remind you about getting your second vaccine dose.
Additional vaccine safety monitoring systems, such as the use of National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) data, and continued monitoring through clinical trials are also utilized to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
FDA REQUIRES EVERY VACCINE PROVIDER to report EVERY death that occurs after a COVID-19 vaccination to the VAERS reporting system. These death reports by vaccine providers are REQUIRED even if it seems clear that the death was not related to the vaccine. The details of every death are investigated by CDC and FDA physicians as soon as possible after these are reported.
Given the absolute requirement to report EVERY death in a vaccine recipient, regardless of its apparent cause, reports of deaths and other adverse events to VAERS following vaccination can not be interpreted to mean that a vaccine caused these problems. In fact, drawing ANY conclusions from the numbers of reported but unverified deaths in the VAERS system is scientifically inappropriate.
COVID-19 vaccines are being given to hundreds of millions of people in the United States. Many COVID-19 vaccine recipients have pre-existing illnesses or are elderly and frail and are thus already at higher risk of death whether or not they get vaccinated. Therefore, a small percentage of people receiving COVID-19 vaccine are likely to die from natural causes soon after being vaccinated. As discussed here, “VAERS data must be interpreted with caution due to the inherent limitations of passive surveillance. VAERS is primarily a safety signal detection and hypothesis generating system. Generally, VAERS data cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused an adverse event. VAERS data interpreted alone or out of context will lead to erroneous conclusions about cause and effect as well as the risk of adverse events occurring following vaccination.”
Every death that occurs after COVID-19 vaccination is investigated. With a single exception, an ongoing review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established any causal link between any of these deaths and COVID-19 vaccines.
NOTE: The single exception is that reports have indicated a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and TTS, a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused less than a dozen deaths. Get the latest safety information on the J&J/Janssen vaccine here.
Additional information on investigation of deaths reported after COVID-19 vaccination can be found on the CDC website.
Vaccination: Side Effects and Adverse Events After COVID-19 Vaccine
Short term vaccine side effects fall into one of three categories:
(1) Local reactions, at or near the injection site
(2) Systemic reactions (such as fever, chills, headache, or muscle aches)
(3) Allergic reactions
This FAQ response addresses the local and systemic side effects. (Allergic side effects are addressed in a later question and response.) Although COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19 disease, you may have some short term local or systemic side effects from the vaccination, which are normal (and expected) signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19.
Some vaccinated adults and children have had local reactions such as pain or redness or tenderness at the injection site. A small number of vaccine recipients have had transient systemic side effects such as fatigue, nausea, chills, fever, headache or other body aches for a few days. These local or systemic side effects do NOT mean that the vaccine has given you a COVID-19 infection. Rather, these expected side effects mean that the vaccine is causing your body’s immune system to react and create antibodies to fight off the virus that causes COVID-19 if you are exposed in the future.
A small number of vaccine recipients have experienced swollen glands (lymph nodes). For the two mRNA vaccines, these expected side effects are more common in younger people than older people and are more common after the 2nd dose than after the first dose.
Less commonly, a few people have reported redness, swelling, and itching around the injection site beginning a few days or in the second week after their first vaccine dose. Although these reactions get better within a few days, some of them have been quite large. However, these local reactions are not considered to be allergic reactions and are not a risk for anaphylaxis when getting a second dose. Individuals with such delayed injection site reactions after the first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose should get the second dose using the same vaccine product as the first dose and at the recommended interval, and preferably in the opposite arm. More information about these uncommon “COVID arm” reactions are available.
As happens occasionally with other vaccines such as influenza vaccine, fainting soon after injection has also been noted among a small number of COVID-19 vaccine recipients, especially among adolescents and other young adults. This kind of short term reaction after the first injection of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series is also not a reason to avoid the second dose or any later booster doses when eligible.
For young children, the side effects seen after vaccination were similar to those seen in older children.
Finally, even if you or your child experience one or more of these expected short term side effects after the first dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, it is very important that you still receive the second primary series dose a few weeks later for the initial vaccine series to be effective.
Some of the expected side effects could interfere with your - or your child’s - ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.
Age appropriate medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen or other medicines called “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” (NSAIDS) can help with the common side effects (for example, arm pain or fever) after those side effects start to occur. However, these drugs should not be taken before your COVID-19 vaccine doses since information on their possible impact on the body's ability to create immunity to COVID-19 infection is not yet available.
If you or your child have persistent injection site pain, short term fever, or other discomfort, talk to your healthcare provider about taking one of these over-the-counter medicines.
To reduce pain and discomfort where you or your child got the shot:
- Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area and use or exercise the arm.
To reduce discomfort from fever, dress lightly, and drink plenty of fluids.
When to call the doctor:
In most cases, discomfort from arm pain or swelling where you or your child got the shot or from fever, headache, fatigue, etc., will not last more than a few days after a COVID-19 vaccine dose. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider:
- If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours
- If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
Remember to sign yourself and your vaccinated child up for v-safe, where you can use your smartphone to tell CDC about any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. You’ll also get reminders from V-Safe about your second vaccine dose.
Healthcare personnel, experiencing certain symptoms may need to remain out of work, as outlined.
Residents of long term care facilities who experience certain symptoms may need to take additional precautions or measures.
Information on possible vaccine adverse events (side effects) continues to be collected and studied by CDC, FDA, and other groups, using multiple systems to collect the data.
One serious but rare adverse effect that has been identified is a blood clotting problem called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) that has occurred in a very small number of people vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. It occurs at a rate of about 3.83 cases per million Janssen doses and has resulted in a small number of deaths. When that problem was first noted in early April 2021, use of that vaccine was stopped for almost two weeks while it was further studied. After deciding that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweighed its known and potential risks, the FDA and CDC recommended resuming its use in the United States.
However, because of a later risk-benefit analysis of post-vaccination TTS and other blood clotting disorders, the FDA has limited the use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine. The J&J COVID-19 vaccine should only be given to individuals 18 years and older whom other authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are not accessible or clinically appropriate and who would otherwise not receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information, visit Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety.
To date, very few cases of TTS in people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Moderna) have been reported to VAERS. Based on available data, this number is not greater than the background rate of this problem and there is not an increased risk for TTS after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. For additional information on this topic, visit the CDC webpage
There have been rare reports of myocarditis or pericarditis among people ages 30 and younger who received COVID-19 vaccine. Most patients responded well to rest and quickly recovered. More information on this topic can be found on CDC’s Myocarditis and Pericarditis After mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination webpage.
CDC and FDA are monitoring reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) in people who have received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. GBS is a rare disorder where the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent nerve damage. These cases have largely been reported about 2 weeks after vaccination and mostly in men, many 50 years and older.
Given the ongoing risk of serious complications, hospitalizations, and even deaths (including deaths of children) from COVID-19 illness, and given the rarity of serious adverse effects, CDC and VDH continue to strongly recommend being up to date on COVID-19 vaccination for anyone six (6) months of age or older.
For additional information, you can also visit the CDC page at Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination
No. Such effects on reproduction have NOT been seen and are unlikely to occur after COVID-19 vaccination.
Sometimes people who are concerned about vaccines or vaccination raise a wide range of various reproduction and fertility questions as part of their concerns.
First, there is no genetic material in any of the current COVID-19 vaccines so there is no risk of a COVID-19 vaccine changing the DNA of any vaccine recipient or that person’s children.
Studies have been published about temporary post-vaccination changes in women’s menstrual cycles. However, short-term changes in menstrual cycles can occur associated with almost any stress, infection, weight changes, dietary changes (including a diet high in soy), excess exercise, or sleep problems. A review of the vaccine-menstrual cycle study data and a summary of the overall vaccine-menstrual cycle question are both available. None of these studies suggested any impact on fertility and, not surprisingly, similar reports about changes in duration and flow of menstrual cycles have been noted after COVID-19 illness.
Also, people now using hormonal birth control (pills, patch, ring, implant, etc.) can receive any of the current COVID-19 vaccines.
One recent study found no increase in the risk of miscarriages in the pregnancies of fully vaccinated women.
As noted elsewhere, there is no reason to withhold COVID 19 vaccine from women who are intending to get pregnant, are currently pregnant, are post-partum, and/or are breastfeeding. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine prior to or during pregnancy can protect you, your fetus, and your infant from severe COVID-19 illness.
In summary, no negative fertility effects have been found for any current U.S. COVID-19 vaccine and there is no biologic reason to suspect that COVID-19 vaccines might have an effect on female or male fertility.
A review of the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in terms of fertility and sexual function was published in the Scientific American magazine.
For people who are considering COVID-19 vaccination at the same time they are considering having a baby, additional useful information can be found on CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding webpage.
You will need your smartphone and information about the COVID-19 vaccine that you or your child received. This information can be found on the vaccination record card you received at the time of your vaccination; if you cannot find your vaccination record card, please contact your healthcare provider.
For instructions on how to register for v-safe, please visit the CDC’s V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker webpage.
Vaccination: Staying Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccinations
The first two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be given at least three weeks (21 days) apart and the first two doses of Moderna vaccine at least four weeks (28 days) apart. There is no maximum amount of time between the first and second doses for either vaccine, but do not get the second dose earlier than recommended.
An extended interval is an option for individuals 6 months of age and older based on an individual’s risks and benefits. A longer (up to 8-week) interval may be optimal for some people, especially for males ages 12 to 39 years. However, the 21 or 28 day interval between the first and second doses remains the recommended interval for: people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised; adults ages 65 years and older; and others who need rapid protection due to increased concern about community transmission or risk of severe disease. Talk to your healthcare or vaccine provider about the timing of the second shot that is right for you or your child.
See the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Schedule.
“Fully vaccinated” still means that (1) a person has received two doses (three doses if Pfizer 6mo– 4yrs) of the original series of either the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine OR the Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine OR that the person has received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine AND (2) that at least 14 days have passed since the last vaccine dose was received.
However, being “fully vaccinated” will NOT provide as much COVID-19 protection as being “Up to Date”. Being Up to Date with COVID-19 vaccination goes a step beyond being Fully Vaccinated to include any person who has received ALL recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses for their age, including both their primary vaccine series and any booster dose(s) as soon as they are eligible.
Anyone 5 through 17 years of age or older who received a primary vaccine series with the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is recommended to stay Up to Date by getting a booster dose of that same vaccine once five months have passed since their second primary series dose. Anyone 18 years of age and older who completed a COVID-19 vaccination series with any mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is recommended to stay Up to Date by getting a booster dose with any FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine once five (5) months have passed since their second primary series dose. People who received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine should get a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine booster dose once two (2) months have passed since their initial Johnson and Johnson vaccine dose.
According to a CDC note about the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, “Data from South Africa and the United Kingdom demonstrate that vaccine effectiveness against [Omicron] infection for two doses of an mRNA vaccine is approximately 35%. A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose restores vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75%.” So for Omicron variants, the benefit of being Up to Date by getting a booster dose is clear.
To maximize protection against the Omicron variants of COVID-19, even if someone has already met the earlier definition of “fully vaccinated”, for optimal protection, they should still stay Up to Date on recommended COVID-19 booster vaccinations.
See the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Schedule.
Regardless of community transmission levels, VDH recommends everyone to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, and to increase ventilation in indoor spaces.
Knowing the COVID-19 Community Level in your area will help you know what additional prevention measures to take.
- People with COVID-19 symptoms, a positive COVID-19 test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.
- In areas where the COVID-19 Community Level is
- Low: Wear a mask based on your personal preference and your level of risk of developing severe illness.
- Medium: Wear a mask based on your personal preference, your level of risk, and the risk of the people you live or spend time with.
- Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask indoors in public in areas where the COVID-19 Community Levels is high.
- People at increased risk should wear a mask or respirator that provides them with greater protection, like an N95 or KN95.
- People with weakened immune systems or who are at increased risk for severe illness should talk to their healthcare provider about what extra precautions, like masks, they may need.
- People may choose to mask at any time.
- At all COVID-19 Community Levels, get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms or after you are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- People with weakened immune systems or who are at increased risk for severe illness should talk to their healthcare provider about testing recommendations, regardless of the COVID-19 Community Level.
- At Medium or High Community Levels: If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease, you should consider self-testing to detect infection before contact.
People with weakened immune systems or otherwise at increased risk for severe illness:
- These individuals should talk to their healthcare provider about what extra precautions they may need, including masking, testing, or early treatment recommendations.
- Treatments work best when started early, so rapid access to testing is critical for people at increased risk, in addition to other layers of prevention.
- At high COVID-19 Community Levels, people should avoid non-essential indoor activities.
Yes. Although people up to date with COVID-19 vaccination who get breakthrough infections with the Omicron variant can sometimes spread COVID-19 to others, such people seem to be contagious for a shorter time than infected but unvaccinated people.
This Nature magazine article discusses the disease transmission benefits of a booster dose. After being boosted, “[people] who had received a single booster were 38% less likely to spread a Delta infection to their household members, and 22% less likely to pass on an Omicron infection than were those who had had just two shots.”
For airline travel to other countries, COVID-19 viral testing is sometimes required for pre-travel screening on international airline flights. Some countries are requiring proof of vaccination before allowing travelers to enter certain facilities (e.g., restaurants). Before ANY travel to other countries, you should check closely with both your airline and with the national testing and vaccination requirements of the country or countries that you will be visiting.
For travel from other countries to the United States, CDC no longer requires any arriving passengers two (2) years and older, including U.S. citizens to show any proof of a negative COVID-19 viral PCR or antigen test.
Serology (antibody) testing to confirm immunity after vaccination is not currently recommended by CDC or by VDH. One important reason is that some of the currently marketed serology test kits use a different technology than others and may not be able to detect the spike (S) protein antibodies that are the most important antibodies produced by the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination process. Using such serology blood test kits could provide a false negative test result that would not reflect your actual protection provided by the COVID-19 vaccine.
This caution about the risk of false negative results of post-vaccine antibody testing is also true for the recently authorized Symbiotica SARS-CoV-2 home antibody test kit.
The Virginia Department of Health is aware of an email scam occuring asking individuals to “validate their COVID-19 status.” The email uses VDH logos and graphics, but it is not from VDH. VDH graphics and materials will link to VDH or LHD websites. Individuals should check the URL to ensure that it's legitimate. If you have any questions about such emails, please contact VDH directly via email at email@example.com.
No. Although vaccine manufacturers are working on Omicron specific vaccines at the requests of the FDA, vaccine development process will take at least several months more. Although the protection provided against infections from the Omicron variant infection or from its BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 subvariants is less than against the Delta variant, booster doses with current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines protect well against serious illness, hospitalization, and death from the Omicron variants.
The best current ways to protect yourself and your family from the Omicron variant and sub-variants (1) to stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations and (2) to continue practicing other recommended prevention measures.
No. The current booster dose recommendations mean that COVID-19 vaccines are working as expected. Many vaccines used in the United States produce levels of antibody and cellular immunity that wane (decrease) over time and their successful long term use requires booster vaccine doses at various times. Some examples include flu (influenza), pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, and diphtheria. Regular boosters are part of the long term planning for preventing these diseases.
COVID-19 vaccines continue to work well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
No. Although a driver’s license or other sort of valid identification card will be required to establish your identity, proof of prior vaccination is not required. However, bringing your CDC vaccination card to the vaccination will allow the booster dose to be added to your card.
Vaccination: Natural Immunity
For COVID-19 vaccination, we have antibody, vaccine safety, and vaccine effectiveness data and we also have vaccine boosters of proven effectiveness (including against severe disease caused by the Omicron variant) to address decreasing immunity over time. Vaccination can ensure the optimal degree of population protection against the Omicron variant and against other future variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
A CDC study shows that even among persons with previous COVID-19 infection, receipt of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine provided additional protection against subsequent COVID-19 hospitalization. The highest level of protection was provided by a booster vaccine dose.
Before the Omicron variant, both natural immunity and immunity from COVID-19 vaccine appeared adequate to prevent another infection for at least several months and to ensure that those infections that occurred were milder than initial natural infections might be. However, with Omicron (a more infectious variant), booster doses are essential for optimal protection.
The Omicron variant and its BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.4, and BA.5 sub-variants have the ability to at least partially evade both (1) the antibodies produced after natural infection with a prior variant and (2) the antibodies produced after current COVID-19 vaccines.
However, with Omicron infections, the other part of the immune system, the cell-mediated (T-cell) immunity helps to provide some of the observed protection against the severity of COVID-19 re-infection seen after both vaccination and after natural infection.
Vaccination is the safest way to get consistent protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Being up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, including being boosted when eligible, provides protection against severe outcomes caused by the variants. Natural infection alone can provide some protection, though less against Omicron compared to previous variants. With an initial natural infection, there is also added risk of developing complications with infection or Long-covid. The risk of Long-covid is lower if an individual is up to date with COVID-19 vaccination.
For more information visit the CDC website.
To maximize protection from future COVID-19 infections and reinfections, you should always stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations.
For COVID-19, hybrid immunity is a combination of (1) the immunity from being up to date with COVID-19 vaccination and (2) the immunity from a natural COVID-19 illness.
The hybrid immunity coming from this combination provides a higher, stronger, and more consistent level of protection from COVID-19 than either infection alone or vaccination alone. Several studies have found that (a) people vaccinated after having natural infection had much lower re-infection risks than people who did not get vaccinated after a natural infection and (b) that people who had that combination of hybrid immunity from both COVID-19 infection AND COVID-19 vaccination had even lower disease risks than people who had immunity from only the disease or from only vaccination. In addition, two CDC studies (link and link) and a more recent study from Rhode Island support this observation
You can wait up to three (3) months after a natural infection. This waiting period is based on data indicating that high levels of anti-COVID-19 antibody and protection persist at least until that point. Increased time between illness and vaccination booster appears to result in a better immune response.
No one knows for certain yet. Although initial studies of hybrid immunity from India and from Israel found good results after a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine, they did not account for the possible risks of immunity decreasing over time or for waning due to the arrival of new variants. Because of these risks, both VDH and CDC recommend staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccination even if you have had COVID-19 in the past.
In addition, having a breakthrough COVID-19 infection after being vaccinated against COVID-19 also leads to a hybrid immunity that is even more protective against severe forms of COVID-19 than what you would have had after having either natural infection alone or COVID-19 vaccination alone. Also, it appears that as far as getting hybrid immunity from a combination of natural infection and vaccination, the sequence of infection and vaccination does not matter.
Vaccination: Healthcare Providers
VDH is asking providers to report all vaccination administrations to the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS). These reports are very important for ensuring that there is an established reporting and data feedback loop for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Yes. Healthcare providers who are interested in providing the COVID-19 vaccine may complete a Provider Intent form on the VDH website. VDH staff will contact providers once they have submitted their intent form to discuss the next steps to enroll as a COVID-19 vaccine provider.
CDC has self-study web modules for healthcare providers that can be found at Vaccine Courses, Broadcasts, Webcasts and Self Study Training and include a general overview of COVID-19 Immunization Best Practices (15 minutes) and a set of modules on what healthcare providers need to know about each of the current COVID-19 vaccines. Each of these courses includes continuing medical education (CME) credits.
Additional resources include the CDC website “Clinical Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccination,” the CDC “COVID-19 Vaccination” homepage, and General COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Healthcare Professionals.
Immunize.org provides FAQs on their “Ask the Experts” page.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provides COVID-19 Vaccination Considerations for Obstetric–Gynecologic Care.
The fact sheets for healthcare providers administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccines can be found on the FDA website.
The fact sheets for healthcare providers administering the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines can be found on the FDA website.
The fact sheets for healthcare providers administering the Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine can be found on the FDA website.
Resources for vaccinating immunocompromised individuals:
- Best practices for vaccination of people with altered immunocompetence
- CDC Yellow Book, Chapter 5
- 2013 IDSA Clinical Practice Guideline for Vaccination of the Immunocompromised Host.
- What to Tell Immunocompromised Patients about COVID-19 Vaccines
- How Effective are COVID-19 Vaccines in Immunocompromised People
U.S. Healthcare providers or health departments can request a consultation from CDC’s Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) COVIDvax project for any complex COVID-19 vaccine safety question that is (1) about an individual patient residing in the United States or vaccine safety issue and (2) not readily addressed by CDC or Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines.
This request can be made through CDC-INFO by:
- Calling 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636), or
- Submitting a request via CDC-INFO webform
For more information, visit the CDC’s Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project webpage.
CDC provides detailed information on how to address vaccine administration errors. Additional resources can be found on CDC’s vaccine administration web page, including a job aid for preventing errors.
Key points include:
- Inform the recipient of the vaccine administration error.
- Consult with the state immunization program and/or Immunization Information System (IIS) to determine how the dose should be entered into the IIS. The Virginia IIS homepage is available.
- Report the error to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), unless otherwise indicated in the table. Determine how the error occurred and implement strategies to prevent it from happening again.
Moderna: To find the expiration date for any vial of Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine, locate the lot number, printed on the carton and vial. Enter the lot number on the Moderna website by entering the lot number that is printed on the box. You can also scan the QR code located on the outer carton.
Pfizer: Vials stored in ultra low temperature (ULT) conditions can be used 9 months after the manufactured date listed. Example: the manufacture date listed is 2/22 the vaccine could be administered through 10/31/2022. In April 2022, FDA approved a shelf-life extension for up to 12 months from the date of manufacture. Please see here for more information.
Janssen (Johnson and Johnson): The expiration date can be acquired three ways. For complete instructions, visit the Janssen website.
- Scan the QR code on the outer carton
- Call 1-800-565-4008
No. Individuals can self-attest, or self-report, that they are eligible for an additional primary dose of an mRNA vaccine (with moderate or severe immunocompromising condition). Eligible persons should be able to receive this additional primary dose wherever vaccines are offered in Virginia.
Vaccine providers should ask patients questions to confirm eligibility for vaccination, including the person’s age and previous COVID-19 vaccination history.
Vase+, VAMS and PrepMod will all have the ability to record additional doses. Both additional primary doses and first booster doses will be recorded as third doses in these systems. Both second boosters and first boosters for certain immunocompromised individuals will be recorded as fourth doses in these systems. Second boosters for certain immunocompromised individuals will be recorded as a fifth dose.
Non-immunocompromised Individual Immunocompromised Individual Recorded in Vase+, VAMS, and PrepMod as: Primary Series #1 Primary Series #1 First Dose Primary Series #2 Primary Series #2 Second Dose Booster #1 Primary Series #3 Third Dose Booster #2 Booster #1 Fourth Dose Booster #2 Fifth Dose
No, you cannot.
Instructions from Moderna about their current COVID-19 vaccine indicate that the vaccine should NOT be refrozen once it is thawed. Moderna COVID-19 vaccine vials that have been thawed and then refrozen should be considered spoiled and should be discarded and should then be reported according to the relevant VDH requirements. The VDH COVID Vaccine Wastage Form is available.
Vaccination: Long-Term Care Facilities
The Federal pharmacy partnership program will not be reinstated by CDC for COVID-19 booster assistance. However, CDC has partnered with various pharmacies to ensure LTCFs are able to access the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information, visit the CDC pharmacy partner contact information page.
- Consider identifying a pharmacy to contract with, if your current pharmacy is not able to meet your needs.
- If LTCFs are unable to partner with a local pharmacy, facilities are encouraged to consider enrolling as a vaccine provider to be able to order and administer vaccines to staff and residents themselves. For more information, visit the VDH Provider Enrollment Process Flow & Checklist.
- LTCFs may also submit an off-site clinic request with pharmacies who may be able to assist facilities with their vaccination needs. For more information, visit the CDC pharmacy partner contact information page.
Contact your local health department for additional support, if needed. More information can be found on the Toolkit for Long-Term Care Facilities to Sustain COVID-19 Vaccine Access.
LTCFs are able to order and administer vaccines through VaxMaX if the facility is enrolled as a vaccine provider. For more information on how to enroll as a vaccine provider, visit the VDH Provider Enrollment Process Flow & Checklist.
Staff who are fully vaccinated need not be routinely tested. Facilities in communities with moderate transmission should test unvaccinated staff once per week. Facilities in communities with substantial or high transmission should test unvaccinated staff twice per week. If a new case is identified in the facility, residents and staff who are close contacts should be tested regardless of their vaccination status. Please refer to the amended CMS guidance document to learn more about testing requirements for unvaccinated staff.
There are multiple factors to be considered before deciding whether to conduct a vaccine clinic during an active outbreak.
- Individuals with active COVID-19 infection are not recommended to receive a vaccination.
- If the outbreak is under control and is restricted to one unit/area of the facility, the clinic can be conducted by following the recommendations from CDC long-term care infection prevention guidance (under “indoor visitation during an outbreak response”).
- If the facility’s current outbreak response plan includes expanding routine testing, it is prudent to reschedule the vaccine clinic to a later date.
- The facility should notify the booster clinic providers about the outbreak situation.
Yes. Minors (those less than 18 years old) in the Commonwealth of Virginia may not consent to their own immunizations to prevent disease. There are some exceptions to this restriction. For example, any minor who is or has been married is considered to be an adult for the purpose of giving consent to their own surgical and medical treatment.
The Commonwealth does allow someone acting “in loco parentis” per:§ 32.1-46, which covers vaccination in accordance with the Immunization schedule developed by and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). In an effort to maintain consistency with similar approaches to vaccination, a minor may present for COVID-19 vaccination with either a parent, guardian, or someone standing in loco parentis.
Sites run by the Virginia Department of Health require the parent or guardian to verbally confirm a minor’s date of birth; however, other providers may require additional proof of age.
You should check with the facility that is offering the vaccination about requirements for proof of age.
For minors getting vaccinated at VDH-sponsored or VDH-supported community events and health department clinics: The parent or guardian does not have to be present at the time of vaccination, but someone acting in loco parentis must accompany the minor.
For minors getting vaccinated at VDH sponsored or supported school vaccination events: Clinics occurring during the school day while school is in session and fully staffed do require parental consent but do not require the presence of a parent, guardian, or someone acting in loco parentis.
You should check with the facility that is offering the vaccination about consent and who needs to accompany the adolescent.
COVID-19 vaccine dosing is based on your child’s age, and not their weight or size.
The most common reported local side effect was pain or tenderness at the injection side. The most common reported systemic side effect was fatigue for older children and irritability and drowsiness for younger children. Side effects were usually mild in severity and resolved within a few days. Fever occurred after vaccination in some children.
You will need your smartphone and information about the COVID-19 vaccine that your child received. This information can be found on the vaccination record card they receive at the time of vaccination; if you cannot find their vaccination record card, please contact your healthcare provider. COVID-19 vaccination records in the Virginia Immunization Information Systems (VIIS) are also available through the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Request Portal. You can access the portal by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov.
For instructions on how to register your child for v-safe, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/v-safe-register-dependents.html.
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. Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescents and young adults have been reported more often after getting the second dose than after the first dose of one of the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer or Moderna. These reports are rare and the known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.
In addition, myocarditis and other heart problems are more common and more severe after COVID-19 illness than after COVID-19 vaccination. According to a CDC MMWR, young men (ages 18-29 years old) had 7-8X the risk of heart complications after SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 infection compared to after vaccination.
Talk to their healthcare provider about an extended interval between the first and second vaccine doses. An 8-week interval may be optimal for some people, especially males ages 12 to 39 years, with a lower risk of myocarditis. However, the 21 or 28 day interval between doses remains the recommended interval for: children who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and for others who need rapid protection due to increased concern about community transmission or risk of severe disease.
Learn more about myocarditis and pericarditis. Seek medical care if you or your child have symptoms of these conditions after COVID-19 illness or after COVID-19 vaccination.
People should receive the recommended age-appropriate vaccine dosage based on their age on the day of vaccination. If a person moves from a younger age group to an older age group during the primary series or between the primary series and receipt of the booster dose(s), they should receive the vaccine product and dosage for the older age group for all subsequent doses.
For guidance on Pfizer vaccines, see the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Children who Transition from a Younger to Older Age Group document.
For guidance on Moderna vaccines, see the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine for Children who Transition from a Younger to Older Age Group document.
Parents of eligible children can choose to get either vaccine. The CDC and VDH do not recommend one over the other. Both vaccines are both safe and effective. Parents and caregivers should get their child vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine that is available to them and that they feel comfortable with. Certain locations will only carry one brand of vaccine.
There are no plans to mandate that K-12 school children receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time. The General Assembly would need to approve that requirement through Virginia’s immunization code.
Children who have COVID-19 have a risk of becoming sick, hospitalized, or in some cases, dying. Children with diabetes and obesity are likely to experience severe COVID-19. Children may also develop long-term illness, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) or long COVID.
Among children 1–4 years of age in the United States, COVID-19 is the 5th most common cause of death in 2020 - 2022 to date. One in four infants and young children hospitalized with COVID-19 require ICU admission. More than half of the hospitalized children in the United States with a COVID-19 infection aged 6 months–4 years old had no underlying conditions.
CDC data from April 2022 shows that during the Omicron surge, hospitalization rates from COVID-19 in children aged 5–11 years were approximately twice as high among unvaccinated as among vaccinated children. Thirty percent of hospitalized children had no underlying medical conditions.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective at preventing severe illness and death.
More than 9 million children aged 5–11 years have received a COVID-19 vaccine so far in the United States.
COVID-19 vaccination can help our children stay in school or other childcare settings, minimize interruptions (such as having to quarantine after an exposure), and decrease the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission.
Vaccination: People with Weakened Immune Systems
Yes, for most immunocompromised people.
After completing their primary vaccine series, many moderately or severely immunocompromised people should get an additional primary series shot.
- The additional dose should be administered at least 28 days after the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine; or at least 28 days after the single initial dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
- The single exception is for children from six (6) months to five (5) years old who received the three-dose Pfizer-BioNTech primary vaccine series. Their third primary series vaccine dose counts as the additional dose. However, those children should receive a standard Pfizer-BioNTec mRNA vaccine booster dose after their fifth birthday as long as three months have passed since their third (final) primary series dose.
- The additional dose should be the same mRNA vaccine as the primary series. For J&J (Janssen) vaccine recipients, the additional dose should be any mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
However, even those people with weakened immune systems who receive an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine still might not have strong protection against COVID-19 after vaccination. These individuals should speak to their healthcare provider about additional prevention measures, including having a plan for testing, or the need for early treatment if infected. In areas where the COVID-19 Community Level is high or medium, people at increased risk should wear a mask or respirator that provides them with greater protection, like an N95 or KN95 and may choose to avoid nonessential indoor activities.
- Their household members, friends, and other close contacts who are vaccine-eligible should get up to date on COVID-19 vaccination to help provide maximal protection to their immunocompromised loved ones and colleagues.
- The individuals (5 years and older) who already received a three-dose mRNA COVID-19 primary vaccine series should also get a first booster dose (at least 3 months after completing their third primary dose), for a total of four vaccine doses.
- The individuals who received a Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine primary dose followed by one additional mRNA dose, should receive one mRNA vaccine booster dose (at least 2 months after completing their additional dose), for a total of three vaccine doses.
People ages 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a second booster dose at least 4 months after the first booster dose. This would be a fifth dose for people who completed an mRNA vaccine primary series and a fourth dose for people who completed the J&J (Janssen) initial shot.
The American College of Rheumatology has guidelines around vaccination timing for people with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions as well as recommendations for which medications should be paused when patients get the vaccine. Other guidance is available from the International Organization for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and the American Society of Transplantation and other transplantation groups. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has released a set of COVID-19 FAQs.
See the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Schedule.
No. Proof of medical condition is not required to receive a third (additional) dose. However, individuals may need to state that they have a moderate or severe immunocompromising condition. You should also bring photo identification to confirm your identity as well as your CDC vaccination card, so that this additional dose can be added.
People who were vaccinated outside the United States and completed a COVID-19 vaccination that is FDA-approved or FDA-authorized and who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and who:
- Received 2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses should receive a third mRNA primary dose in the United States followed by a booster dose, for a total of four vaccine doses
- Received a Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine primary dose should receive one additional mRNA dose and one booster dose in the United States, for a total of three vaccine doses.
People ages 5 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and who completed a COVID-19 vaccination listed for emergency use by WHO but not approved or authorized by FDA should also receive:
- A single dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after receiving the last dose of the non-FDA-approved or -non-FDA-authorized primary series.
- An mRNA booster dose at least 3 months after their last primary series dose, for a total of four vaccine doses.
Additional guidance can be found on the CDC website.
A decision about receiving an additional dose or booster dose should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Our bodies produce several different types of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Some of the available COVID-19 serology tests do NOT measure the SARS-CoV-2 spike antibody which is the only antibody that the body produces after COVID-19 vaccination. A negative serology test after vaccination, if it is not measuring the correct (vaccine-generated spike) antibody, could be a false negative.
Several studies have indicated that the cellular immune system, another critical part of your immune system, usually responds well to COVID-19 vaccination and it is entirely possible that even if your body does not make antibodies well after COVID-19 vaccination, your cellular immunity may be responding well to the vaccine. A negative antibody test by itself is not a certain indicator that your immune system is not responding at all to the vaccine.
The American Society of Transplantation “strongly caution against concluding that low antibody response rate to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination will lead to reduced clinical effectiveness until more information is available.”
COVID-19 vaccination records in the Virginia Immunization Information Systems (VIIS) are available through the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Request Portal.
This portal can be used to obtain a record of your COVID-19 vaccinations if you have misplaced the vaccine card you received at a vaccination clinic; if your first, second, third and booster doses were written on different cards; or if you would like to give a copy of your record to someone else.
Enter your name, date of birth, and ZIP code. If there is a match, the system will send a verification code to the phone number associated with your vaccination record, through either a text message or an automated voice call. This prevents other people from accessing your record. Once you enter the verification code, you can view, save, and print your Vaccination Record with QR code. With iOS 15, you can securely store verifiable versions of your COVID-19 test results and immunization records in the Health app on your iPhone or iPod touch.
The request portal is also accessible via Virginia’s free COVIDWISE app, along with information about vaccines and other frequently asked questions. In the app, tap “Virtual VDH” for these options.
The vaccination record provided by the portal includes your name, date of birth, date of each COVID-19 vaccination you received; the manufacturer, description, and lot number; and the provider who administered it. No other personal information is returned.
Because the Vaccination Record with QR Code is digitally signed by the Virginia Department of Health, it cannot be altered or forged.
Vaccine providers in Virginia submit vaccination records to the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS), but they may have provided information that's incomplete, out of date, or incorrect. So, it's likely we have your record if you were vaccinated in Virginia, even if it’s not available through the request portal. For example, your name or phone number may have been entered incorrectly or may have changed. If you can’t find your record, first try the search again without entering a ZIP code. If the record still isn’t found, you can contact your vaccine provider to update their vaccination record or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) for help (Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 5 p.m).
Some doses administered outside Virginia to Virginia residents may be in VIIS. Doses administered directly by federal agencies such as the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs are not reported to VIIS.
If you would like a record of other vaccinations (besides COVID-19), you may submit your request online.
If the information on your vaccination record is incorrect (e.g., missing dose, wrong date or incorrect brand), you should contact your vaccine provider to update their record or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) for help (Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 5 p.m).
Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination records include QR codes – a type of barcode that can be scanned with smartphones. QR codes – short for “quick response” – are commonly used in retail, logistics, and other sectors. The technology allows anyone to show proof of vaccination with a digital or printed QR code instead of a paper card, and without the need for an app.
A person vaccinated in Virginia can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to obtain their free vaccination record with QR code, which can then be saved to a phone gallery, printed on paper, or stored in a compatible account, such as Google Pay, CommonHealth, or Apple Health.
The QR code can also be scanned by a tablet or smartphone with the SMART Health Verifier App. This will display to the reader your name, date of birth, vaccine date(s), and vaccine type.
QR codes contain the same information as paper records, but in a format that offers greater security and efficiency. Because the QR code is digitally signed by the Virginia Department of Health, it cannot be altered or forged. Information from QR codes is only available if and when the individual chooses to share it.
The COVID-19 Vaccination Record with QR Code will be available to you from the portal.
There are a number of ways you can save your QR code:
- Print it
- Screenshot it and store it in your photo album
- Save it
- To your computer
- To your smartphone as a file (iPhone/Android)
- To your Google Pay Wallet
- To your Apple Health account (requires iOS 15)
For help with securely storing verifiable versions of your COVID-19 test results and immunization records in the Health app on your iPhone or iPod touch, please visit https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212752.
Vaccination records, including Vaccination Record with QR Code, are also accessible via Virginia’s free COVIDWISE app, along with information about vaccines and other frequently asked questions.
You are not required by the Virginia Department of Health to obtain a Vaccination Record with QR Code, or to use it for any particular purpose. Your record, and the QR code within it, are options provided to you to document your vaccinations and provide proof to those with whom you choose to share it.
The information listed on the QR code is the information shown on paper vaccination records or cards, which includes name, date of birth, vaccination date, vaccine manufacturer, lot number, and provider for each dose of vaccine received. The QR code does not include social security number, immigration status, or other information not found on paper vaccination records.
Because the QR code is digitally signed by the Virginia Department of Health, it cannot be altered or forged.
Your vaccination history is stored directly within the QR code, which you control. It’s completely up to you to decide whether and when to show someone else your QR code.
This COVID-19 Vaccination Record with QR Code can only be scanned by apps or websites that agree to the privacy protections required by the SMART Health framework, such as the SMART Health Verifier App.
You can obtain your COVID-19 Vaccination Record with QR Code at vaccinate.virginia.gov on your smartphone, or tablet or computer browser. There is also a link to the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Request Portal in the free COVIDWISE app (tap “Virtual VDH” at the bottom). You can also call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) for help (Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Vaccination Records with QR Codes are available to anyone whose vaccination record is in the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS) and includes a working phone number.
If you would like your full immunization record (i.e., COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 immunizations), you may submit your request online. At this time, all full immunization record requests will not include a QR code.
Individual businesses, employers, and other organizations are usually not prohibited from requiring vaccination or proof of vaccination for employees, customers, and/or other participants if they choose to do so.
You should only show any vaccination record to a person, business, or organization you want to know your vaccination information, and only after they tell you what they intend to do with your data and if they will keep it.
Clinics vary in how long it takes them to submit vaccine dose information to the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS). VIIS records are usually updated within one-to-three workdays after a dose is administered.
Your COVID-19 Vaccination Record does not automatically update. If you receive an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Request Portal again at vaccinate.virginia.gov to obtain your updated Vaccination Record with QR Code.
Businesses and employers that choose to verify an individual’s vaccination status via QR code can download the free SMART Health Card Verifier App to do so.
Businesses and employers validating vaccination records are encouraged to require a second form of government identification (e.g. government issued driver’s license) to compare to the name and date of birth on the vaccination record.
If you would like to test the QR code of your COVID-19 Vaccination Record using a Smart Health Verifier App on your smartphone, you should first print a paper copy of your QR record before scanning it with the Verifier App because it is likely that the small resolution of a computer or phone screen will not allow that App to accurately read the QR code.
Please call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682), Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 5 p.m with any additional questions.
Page last updated: August 10, 2022