VDH COVID-19 Vaccination Response

Which COVID-19 vaccines are available in Virginia?

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)
Available for ages 12+ 18+ 18+
How many shots are needed? Two shots, 21 days apart Two shots, 28 days apart One shot
When will I be fully vaccinated? 14 days after your second shot 14 days after your second shot 14 days after you get the shot
Is an additional primary series dose recommended? Yes, for some individuals who have a weak immune system Yes, for some individuals who have a weak immune system Not at this time
Is a booster dose recommended? At least 6 months after the primary series, if you are 65+, are 18+ and live in a long-term care facility, are 18+ with underlying medical conditions, or are 18+ and live or work in a high risk setting .


At least 6 months after the primary series, if you are 65+, are 18+ and live in a long-term care facility, are 18+ with underlying medical conditions, or are 18+ and live or work in a high risk setting. Yes, at least 2 months after the first shot, if you are 18+.
Authorization status FDA Approved (ages 16+)
Emergency Use Authorization (ages 12-15, additional doses for certain immunocompromised people ages 12+ , and boosters for 18+)
Emergency Use Authorization (ages 18+, additional doses for certain immunocompromised people, and boosters) Emergency Use Authorization (ages 18+ and boosters)


Booster Dose Recommendations:

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

VDH recommends that some individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine should receive a booster dose about 6 months after their second dose. Those individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are recommended to receive a booster dose at least 2 months after their shot.

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

We recommend that these groups should receive a booster:

In addition, these groups may also benefit from a booster based on their individual benefits and risks:

Individuals 18 and older who received a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, should receive a booster shot at least 2 months after the initial dose.

Who qualifies for a booster dose?

Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster.  Deciding which brand to use may depend on which brand is available and an individual benefit-risk assessment.  Consider talking to a healthcare provider if you have concerns about which brand of booster to take.  We expect the CDC to provide more additional recommendations soon.

Find Your Vaccine Booster

If you are eligible, you can receive a booster dose wherever vaccines are available. Options include community vaccination clinics, your healthcare provider, or a pharmacy.

Visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to find an appointment.

Thank you for your patience while all providers respond to increased demand for appointments.

Additional information about the COVID-19 vaccines

How are vaccines developed?

Every vaccine goes through the same steps to make sure it is safe and effective. The COVID-19 vaccines were developed more quickly than usual because the financial part of that process was sped up to help us fight this virus.
It starts with lab testing: Scientists and researchers work on formulas that will become a vaccine.  Before it’s ever given to people, it goes through extensive lab testing.

Next there are clinical trials: Clinical trials test safety, dosage, and effectiveness.  Vaccines have to pass three phases before they can be offered to the general public.

  • Phase 1: Study the safety and look for common reactions, using 20-100 volunteers.
  • Phase 2: Study the effectiveness, by looking for how effective it is and by looking for the right dose using several hundred volunteers.
  • Phase 3: Study safety and effectiveness, by comparing people who got the vaccines with people who did not, using thousands of volunteers.

Approval and Production: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews the data from the trials and decides whether to approve it.

  • Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) [Español] is used by the FDA during a public health emergency. This means that the FDA has looked at the data about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and allows it to be used while they continue to look at the data.
  • A full FDA approval means that the vaccine can be used even when there is not a public health emergency. To get this approval, the manufacturer must provide more detailed data that is collected for a longer time.  After the FDA fully approves the vaccine, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes recommendations for how that vaccine should be used.

How vaccines work?

When bacteria or viruses enter our bodies, they attack and multiply. This invasion is called an infection. The immune system fights back to protect the body’s cells. To help train your immune system to protect you from disease, we use vaccines. They do this by:

  • Imitating an infection
  • Helping the body’s immune system
  • Teaching the body to “remember” how to fight the bacteria or virus in the future

There are three types of COVID-19 vaccines

Frequently Asked Questions

Top Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 vaccine

Whether or not you need a booster will depend on your individual circumstances and which of the vaccines you received.  The CDC’s recommendations are listed below.  VDH encourages those with questions to work with their healthcare provider to decide whether they should get a booster dose.

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

For individuals who received a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

No. All COVID-19 vaccines work well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection,  especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease.

  • For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, CDC provides the recommendations below.  For the J&J vaccine all individuals 18+ are recommended to get a booster dose.
  • Adults 65+, adults 50-64 years who have underlying medical conditions, and residents of long-term care facilities are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.   A booster dose is recommended to ensure their continued protection.
  • Some individuals are at higher risk for being exposed to COVID-19 due to their occupation.  While the COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against severe disease remains high for healthcare personnel and other essential workers, these individuals cannot work if they have even a mild COVID-19 illness.  Additionally, they are at risk to spread the illness to their household members.  These individuals may receive a booster dose
  • Adults 18–49 who have underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID 19. However, their risk is likely not as high as it would be for adults 50 years and older who have underlying medical conditions, or people who live in long-term care settings. With the lower risk, the data do not support that everyone who falls into this group should get a booster shot. Therefore, CDC’s recommendation is not as strong for these populations, but still allows a booster shot to be available for those who would like to get one. 
  • People 18 and older who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions or their occupation should consider their individual risks and  benefits when making the decision of whether to get a booster shot. This recommendation may change in the future as more data become available.

An additional dose (or 3rd dose) of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) is now recommended for people with a weak immune system 28 days after their second dose. This is because their initial immune response after a 2-dose series may not have been strong enough to protect them. A booster dose of a vaccine is recommended when a person’s initial immune response is likely to have decreased over time.

  • At this time, Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized by the FDA for those ages 12 and up.  Pfizer-BioNTech submitted data for vaccine response among 5-11 year olds to the FDA in September. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) plans to meet on November 2nd and 3rd on this topic.
  • Once the FDA issues an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and the CDC Director makes a recommendation, Virginia will provide the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children 5-11 years old. 
  • In the first week of June 2021, Moderna submitted data for expansion of their EUA, to include 12 to 17 year olds. FDA and ACIP review of these new data still need to occur. Moderna anticipates having data for even younger age groups in “early Fall”. No additional information is available at this time.
No, they do not. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems, in women or men. If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you can and should receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Yes, vaccines are safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 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.
  • There is no evidence of miscarriages, stillbirths, or preterm births linked to the vaccines.
  • In fact, getting vaccinated is especially important for pregnant people who have a higher risk of complications from COVID-19. Additionally, a recent study found antibodies against COVID-19 in babies born to vaccinated people, which might help protect the babies. And recent reports indicate that vaccinated breastfeeding people have antibodies in their breast milk, which may also help protect their babies.
  • Common side effects include mild symptoms that should go away in a few days. They include redness, pain, or swelling on the arm where you got the shot. They also include a mild fever, chills, headache, or feeling tired.
  • Severe allergic reactions after getting a COVID-19 vaccine are rare. Call 9-1-1 or seek immediate medical care if you have symptoms. Vaccination sites are ready to help people who have immediate allergic reactions.  Stay at the vaccination site for at least 15 minutes after the vaccine.
  • Serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely following any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination. To let CDC know about any side effects, you can sign up for a free, secure smartphone tool at V-Safe After Vaccination Health Checker (https://vsafe.cdc.gov/en/) [Español] Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines, and no long-term side effects have been detected.
Have more questions? Visit our Searchable FAQs [Español] to find your answer!
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