COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs

Overview

Find more FAQs and information on the COVID-19 vaccine on the Virginia Department of Health website.

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Vaccine Distribution 

What vaccines are available and who is eligible? (Last updated: 11/30/21)

COVID-19 Vaccine Authorization Summary
Vaccines Ages Approved Ages Not Yet Approved Additional Dose Approved for Moderately/Severely Immunocompromised?

Booster Dose^ Approved for 18 (after Primary Series)?

^ Individuals may choose which COVID-19 vaccine to receive as a booster. Consult a healthcare provider for additional guidance.

Johnson and Johnson (Janssen)
1-dose primary series

Viral vector vaccine

  • Under 18 (no updates)   
No Yes for all individuals 18+ who received a Janssen vaccine, booster shots are recommended 60 or more days (2 or more months) after their primary series. (FDA EUA on Oct. 20, 2021 and CDC approval on Oct. 21, 2021). 

Moderna
2-dose primary series

mRNA vaccine

  • 12-17 (no updates) 
  • 6-11 (no updates) 
  • Under 6 (no updates) 

Yes 3rd dose for 18+ at least 28 days after 2nd dose (FDA EUA on Aug. 12, 2021 and CDC approval on Aug. 13, 2021

Yes for all individuals 18+ who received a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are recommended 6 or more months after their primary series. 

(FDA EUA on Nov. 19, 2021  and CDC approval on CDC approval on Nov. 29, 2021

No for all other groups (pending VRBPAC, FDA, ACIP, CDC approvals) 

Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)
2-dose primary series

mRNA vaccine 

  • Under 5 (no updates) 
Yes 3rd dose for 12+ at least 28 days after 2nd dose (FDA EUA on Aug. 12, 2021 and CDC approval on Aug. 13, 2021)

Yes for all individuals 18+ who received a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are recommended 6 or more months after their primary series. 

(FDA EUA on Nov. 19, 2021 and CDC approval on Nov. 29, 2021)

No for all other groups (pending VRBPAC, FDA, ACIP, CDC approvals)

* People can talk to their healthcare provider about whether getting a COVID-19 booster shot is appropriate for them. EUA= Emergency Use Authorization; FDA= Food and Drug Administration; ACIP= Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; CDC= Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; VRBPAC= Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.   

How do I get a free COVID-19 vaccine? (Last updated: 11/3/21)

Arlington County Public Health Clinics

  • Schedule an appointment or walk-in*
    • *Walk-in and scheduled appointments are available for 1st and 2nd doses. Children ages 5–11, additional doses, and booster doses require an appointment.
    •  Children 17 years and younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
  • If you need ADA accommodations or help scheduling an appointment, call 703-228-7999

Vaccines.gov

  • Schedule an appointment.
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) or to 822862 (VACUNA) to find nearby vaccine locations.

Healthcare Providers

  • Contact your healthcare provider to see if they are offering COVID-19 vaccines to patients.

Can I get a flu and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time? (Last updated 9/29/21)

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may be administered 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.

If I already had COVID-19, should I still get the vaccine?

Yes. It is recommended that you still get the vaccine, as long as you are not symptomatic and out of the isolation period

 

 

 


Additional Doses for Immunocompromised

What is the difference between an “additional dose” and a “booster dose”? (Last updated: 9/28/21)

An additional, or third, dose of a vaccine is given to an immunocompromised person when the initial immune response following a primary vaccine series may have been insufficient.

booster is administered when an initial, sufficient immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have weakened over time.

For COVID-19, a primary vaccine series is defined as either:

  • Two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) separated by the recommended number of 21 or 28 days; or
  • One dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Who is eligible for an additional, or third, dose? (Last updated: 8/19/21)

Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines more than 28 days ago are eligible. Individuals should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them. At this time, an additional dose of Johnson & Johnson has not been recommended.

Moderately to severely immunocompromised people include, but are not limited to, those who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

Is an additional dose available for Johnson & Johnson? (Last updated: 8/19/21)

At this time, an additional dose of vaccine is not approved for people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This includes getting a dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA and CDC continue to review evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of an additional dose for these individuals.

How do I get an additional dose? (Last updated: 9/28/21)

If you are eligible, you can receive an additional dose wherever vaccines are available.  

Arlington County Public Health Clinics

Vaccines.gov

  • Schedule an appointment.
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) or to 822862 (VACUNA) to find nearby vaccine locations.

Healthcare Providers

  • Contact your healthcare provider to see if they are offering an additional dose to patients.

Do I need to show proof that I am immunocompromised? (Last updated: 8/19/21)

No. Proof of medical condition is not required, though individuals will be asked to self-attest as having a qualifying condition at the time of vaccination.

Is the additional dose size the same as the primary series? (Last updated 10/26/21)

Pfizer and Moderna are the same dose as their original vaccine regimens, 0.3 mL and 0.5 mL respectively. An additional dose is not authorized for Johnson & Johnson.


Booster Doses

What is the difference between an “additional dose” and a “booster dose”? (Last updated: 9/28/21)

An additional, or third, dose of a vaccine is given to an immunocompromised person when the initial immune response following a primary vaccine series may have been insufficient.

booster is administered when an initial, sufficient immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have weakened over time.

For COVID-19, a primary vaccine series is defined as either:

  • Two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) separated by the recommended number of 21 or 28 days; or
  • One dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Who is eligible for a booster dose? (Last updated: 11/30/21)

The CDC recommends that all fully vaccinated adults 18 years of age and older should get a COVID-19 booster shot, including those who received Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

Pfizer or Moderna

A single COVID-19 vaccine booster dose is recommended for all individuals 18 years of age and older, at least six months (180 days) after completion of their primary Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine series (i.e., first two doses). 

Johnson & Johnson

A single COVID-19 vaccine booster shot is recommended for all individuals 18 years of age and older, at least two months after their primary dose (i.e., single dose) of Johnson & Johnson. 

Now that there are booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States—Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose.

Some people may have a preference to receive the same vaccine product as their primary series, and others may prefer to receive a different booster than their primary series. 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.   

When is someone eligible to get a booster dose? (Last updated: 10/25/21)

If you got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, a booster is recommended at least six months (180 days) after the primary series (i.e., first two doses).  If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a booster is recommended at least two months after the primary dose (i.e., single dose).

Once a booster dose is recommended for you, there is no rush to get your booster right away, but do take advantage of the many opportunities available for you to receive an appropriate booster. If you are fully vaccinated, you still have strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death, including against the Delta variant.

How do I get a booster dose? (Last updated: 10/25/21)

If you are eligible, you can receive a booster dose wherever vaccines are available. 

Arlington County Public Health Clinics

Vaccines.gov

  • Schedule an appointment.
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) or to 822862 (VACUNA) to find nearby vaccine locations.

Healthcare Providers

  • Contact your healthcare provider to see if they are offering boosters to patients.

Do I need to show proof to get a booster dose? (Last updated: 9/28/21)

No. Proof is not required. Individuals will be asked to self attest, or self-report, that they meet the requirements set by the CDC and FDA to receive a booster dose.

Do I need to get the same vaccine brand? (Last updated 10/25/21)

Now that there are booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States—Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose.

Some people may have a preference to receive the same vaccine product as their primary series, and others may prefer to receive a different booster than their primary series. 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.

Is the booster dose size the same as the primary series? (Last updated: 10/26/21)

Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are the same dose as their original vaccine regimens, 0.3 mL and 0.5 mL respectively. Moderna’s is 0.25 mL, or half the original dose. A full dose of Moderna is not authorized as a booster.

 

 

 


Vaccine Mandate for County and APS Employees

Who does the policy apply to? (Last updated: 8/19/21)

Arlington County Government and Arlington Public Schools (APS) implemented a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees effective August 30, 2021. This joint action is a necessary step to help keep the community safe and is consistent with COVID-19 public health guidance. This policy also applies to interns, volunteers, substitutes, and contractors. 

Why is a vaccine mandate necessary? (Last updated: 8/19/21)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Arlington County Public Health Division, COVID-19 continues to pose a risk, especially to individuals who are not fully vaccinated. Therefore, certain safety measures remain necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community.

Vaccination continues to be the most effective way to significantly reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death, even with the Delta variant. This is part of a layered approach to keeping the community, as well as children who are not yet eligible for vaccination, safe.

Arlington County and APS have offered vaccines to all employees and continue to follow Virginia Department of Health guidance regarding vaccination. APS is committed to ensuring that Arlington schools open safely and remain open for student learning; and Arlington County has an obligation to ensure continuity of government and government services. This includes providing critical services for the social, emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing of the community. Reductions in critical government and educational services can have dramatic impacts on the health and wellbeing of our community.

What if an employee chooses not to be vaccinated? (Last updated: 8/19/21)

County and APS employees are required to submit vaccine documentation to their respective agencies.

All unvaccinated employees are required to be tested at least weekly for COVID-19 to limit the potential spread in the workforce and in the community. Testing is provided at no cost to the employee.

Reasonable accommodations are offered to qualified employees with a disability or those with a sincerely held religious belief that prohibits them from receiving a vaccine.

 


Children Ages 5 and Older

How do I get my child vaccinated? (Last updated: 11/3/21)

Free Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are available for children ages 5 and older.

 Arlington County Public Health Clinics

  • Schedule an appointment. Select the option labeled "Schedule a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine appointment (age 5–11).
  • If you need ADA accommodations or help scheduling an appointment, call 703-228-7999
  • APS can also help families at Title I schools with scheduling. Call 703-228-2985, Mon-Fri 7:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Help is available in English or Spanish. At the time of the call, eligible families will need a cell phone that can receive text messages and their child's student ID number.

Please note: Children 17 years and younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Vaccines.gov

  • Schedule an appointment.
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) or to 822862 (VACUNA) to find nearby vaccine locations.

Pediatricians

  •  Contact your child’s pediatrician to ask if they are offering the vaccine to patients. 

Do parents or legal guardian need to be present for the child to get the vaccine? (Last updated: 5/14/21)

Yes, one parent or legal guardian must be present to provide consent for their dependent child (17 years and younger) to get the vaccine.

How many doses of Pfizer will my child receive? (Last updated: 11/3/21)

Children ages 12–17 will receive two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, separated by 21 days (3 weeks). The dose is the same for children aged 12–17 and adults.

Children ages 5–11 will receive two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, separated by 21 days (3 weeks). The dose is one-third of the dose used for older children and adults.

Are K-12 schools in Virginia requiring COVID-19 vaccination?

There are no plans to mandate that K-12 school children receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time. The State General Assembly would need to approve that through Virginia’s immunization code.

Can my child get the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same time?

COVID-19 vaccines (regardless of manufacturer) and other vaccines may be administered without regard to timing. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines on the same day, as well as administration within 14 days.

What if my child turns 12 in between their first and second dose? (Last updated: 11/3/21)

Vaccine dosing is based on the child’s age on the day of vaccination, regardless of their size or weight. An 11-year-old child should get the vaccine formulation for 5–11-year-olds. If that child turns 12 years old before their second dose, they should get the vaccine formulation for people 12 years and older as their second dose. However, if they get the dose for 5–11-year-olds as their second dose, they are still considered fully vaccinated.

When will children younger than 5 be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine? (Last updated: 11/3/21)

Similar to the process for expanding the Pfizer Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to children 5–11 years old and 12–17 years old, the FDA will have to approve the EUA expansion for children younger than age 5. This approval then needs to go to the CDC. Once approved by the CDC director, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will need to endorse the recommendation before Arlington can begin to vaccinate children under 5. 


Once I Have an Appointment

Do I need to provide identification or documentation? (Last updated: 5/14/21)

No. Photo identification is not required for vaccination. You will need to provide a form of identification (e.g., drivers license, passport, student ID, pay stub, bill) when you arrive for your scheduled appointment. This is needed to confirm that we are vaccinating the right person. You cannot be turned away for lack of documentation.

How much will the COVID vaccine cost? (Last updated: 2/26/21)

COVID-19 vaccines are available at no cost.

Arlington County Public Health vaccine clinics do not bill patients or insurance for administrative costs.

Please note that you do NOT pay to schedule an appointment; and you will NOT be asked for payment information, social security numbers or Medicare information. Please do NOT give this information to someone who asks. For more information on vaccine scams, visit the CDC's website.


After I get the Vaccine

Are there side effects?

You may have some side effects, such as pain, redness, and swelling, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects. For more information visit CDC's website.

After I get the vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask and socially distance? (Last updated: 5/27/21)

Find the latest guidance from the CDC and Virginia Department of Health at the VDH page When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.

Do I need to quarantine after I get the vaccine?

No. The vaccine does not contain a live virus. It only contains a piece of the genetic code for the spike protein, which protects your body from the virus. It cannot give you COVID-19.

When am I fully vaccinated? (Last updated: 9/28/21)

You are fully vaccinated for:

  • Pfizer: 14 days after receiving the second dose of this two-dose vaccine. 
  • Moderna: 14 days after receiving the second dose of this two-dose vaccine 
  • Johnson & Johnson: 14 days after receiving one dose of this one-dose vaccine

At this time, CDC does not plan to update the definition of fully vaccinated.

 

I lost my vaccination card. How do I get a new one? (Last updated: 9/17/21)

If you lost your card prior to receiving your second dose, you may obtain a new card from your vaccinator when you receive your second dose. 

If you or your child lost your card after your second dose or after completing a one-dose vaccination series and were vaccinated in Virginia, you can use the Vaccination Record Request Portal to view and print a QR code record of your COVID-19 vaccinations. 

  • Click here
  • 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.

If you cannot locate your COVID-19 vaccination record through the portal or you would like a record of other vaccinations, you may submit your request online. You can also contact 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

If you registered for the vaccine through your employer and created an account using the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS), you can log in at the website https://vams.cdc.gov where you can “View your vaccination certificate" in the Recipient Portal.

Also, be sure to take a picture of your card for your records!  

How can I get a COVID-19 vaccination record QR code? (Last updated: 9/17/21)

The Virginia Department of Health announced on Sep. 16, 2021, the addition of QR codes—a type of barcode that can be scanned with smartphones—to Virginia COVID-19 vaccination records.

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 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 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.


Second Doses

Do I need to get the same vaccine for the second dose?

Yes. The second dose must be of the same vaccine from the same manufacturer.

How will the second dose be scheduled at Arlington clinics? (Last updated: 11/3/21)

Second dose appointments will be scheduled at the time of the first dose. If you have questions or need help, please call the County’s COVID-19 hotline at 703-228-7999.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single shot and does not require a second dose.


Vaccine Safety

Are the vaccines safe?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people in the U.S. have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.

For more safety information, visit the CDC's website

What is in the vaccine? (Last updated: 4/27/21)

Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines. These vaccines include a piece of messenger RNA, or mRNA, that your body uses as instructions to make a protein that appears on the surface of the virus. Your immune system reacts to this protein and develops a response without danger of COVID-19 infection. This allows your body to start preparing to fight against the virus even before you are exposed.

The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. A vector (not the virus that causes COVID-19, but a different, harmless virus) will enter a cell in the body and then use the cell’s machinery to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. This piece is known as a spike protein and it is only found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

None of the vaccines can give you COVID-19.

Vaccine ingredients lists can be found on the manufacturer’s fact sheets:

How will COVID-19 vaccines protect me and others?

The COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been shown to have high efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection and preventing severe disease. The vaccines work by stimulating our body’s immune system to make “antibodies” to the COVID-19 virus. These antibodies allow the body to quickly defend itself if a person becomes infected with the virus.

While vaccines are very effective in preventing COVID-19, they are just one tool. Even for those who have been vaccinated, a combination of actions is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. After getting the vaccine, it will still be important to adhere to all health and safety recommendations from the CDC and Virginia Department of Health.

Visit the CDC's website on vaccine effectiveness for more information. 

What is v-safe? (Last updated: 10/13/21)

V-safe is a cell phone-based system from the CDC that COVID-19 vaccine recipients can use to notify CDC if they develop any side effects. Everyone who gets vaccinated can and should register for v-safe after getting the vaccine.


Additional Information and Resources

How can I volunteer?

Where can I find more information about COVID-19 vaccines in Virginia?

See the Virginia Department of Health's COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs.