COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

COVID-19 immunizations hold the best hope for getting our lives and our economy back to normal. The approved COVID-19 vaccines have proven effective in preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19 and Let’s Get Immunized NY will continue to provide information as new developments occur. The following information and resources will help you understand how these vaccines were developed and approved and aim to help you make an informed decision about vaccination for you and your family.

Approved COVID-19 Vaccines

The FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under Emergency Use Authorization, including for individuals ages 5 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals. For Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dosing information, including information on booster dose recommendations, please refer to the COVID-19 Vaccine Dosage Guide below.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine proved to be 95% effective in Phase III trials. For more information on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trial and diversity of participants, click here.

The FDA has approved the Moderna vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 18 years of age and older. The FDA has also approved the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.  For Moderna COVID-19 vaccine dosing information, including information on booster dose recommendations, please refer to the COVID-19 Vaccine Dosage Guide below.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine proved to be 94% effective in Phase III trials. For more information on Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trial, click here.

The FDA has approved an Emergency Use Authorization of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years and older. This vaccine is given in a single dose and in phase 3 trials was shown to be 85% effective in preventing severe disease. It also showed protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death, beginning 28 days after vaccination. For Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine dosing information, including information on booster dose recommendations,  please refer to the COVID-19 Vaccine Dosage Guide below.

In most situations, the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for primary and booster vaccination due to the risk of serious adverse events.

For more information on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and trials click here.

For more information about other COVID-19 vaccines that are in development, click here.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant and devastating impacts on every segment of our lives. Vaccination is an important tool to help us return to normal and three vaccines have now been approved in the United States. Naturally, you may have questions about these vaccines, their safety and efficacy and whether you should receive them when eligible. Below, we have provided answers to frequently asked questions about these vaccines to help individuals become informed. We have also included links to additional resources to learn more. Thank you for your interest.

Download our FAQs PDF in English
Download our FAQs PDF in Spanish

The COVID-19 Vaccines

How many vaccines are currently approved to prevent COVID-19?

Three COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to date. In December 2020, the FDA approved two COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna which each require two doses. In February 2021, the FDA approved the third vaccine to prevent COVID-19 – the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Each vaccine has been approved by the FDA at the recommendation of the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). New York State’s independent Clinical Advisory Task Force also separately approved the vaccines.

How are the three COVID-19 vaccines different from each other? Which one should I get?

Check out the chart below to learn about the differences between the approved vaccines. The CDC currently recommends the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines for most people and recommends Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen  COVID-19 vaccine in some situations for people 18 years and older. For more information on the recommended number and interval of doses, please refer to the COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule & Dosage Guide

VaccinePfizerModernaJohnson & Johnson
Type of VaccinemRNAmRNAAdenovirus
Recommended Age to Receive6 months and older6 months and older18 years and older
Booster DosesRecommended for everyone 5 years and olderRecommended for those age 18 and olderPeople who received an initial dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are recommended to receive an age-appropriate mRNA booster 

Two of the approved vaccines use mRNA technology. How does mRNA work?

Both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA technology. While mRNA vaccine technology is new it is not unknown. This technology has been studied for more than a decade. These vaccines do not enter the nucleus of cells and do not alter or interact with the DNA of vaccine recipients. Further, there is no “microchip” in the vaccines.

How does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine work? What is adenovirus and can it give me COVID-19?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an adenovirus vaccine. This type of vaccine uses an adenovirus which is a type of virus that causes the common cold, which has been inactivated to carry a gene from the coronavirus into human cells. The cells then produce coronavirus proteins (not the virus itself) to mimic the virus, which helps teach the immune system to fight off later infection if the body encounters the coronavirus. This vaccine uses an inactivated cold virus and cannot give you COVID-19.

Is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe?

After reports of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals following administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC and FDA paused use of the vaccine for a period of ten days. The FDA and CDC conducted a thorough safety review and determined that the recommended pause regarding the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. should be lifted and use of the vaccine should resume. The pause in the use of the vaccine allowed scientists to evaluate each incidence of the clotting disorder. They determined that the level of risk was very low and that the benefits of continued use of the vaccine greatly outweighed any risk associated with it. If you have questions or concerns, consult your doctor.

The vaccines were made so quickly. How do we know they are safe and effective?

Creating a vaccine is a very complex and highly regulated process. Given the worldwide impact of the pandemic, significant resources were devoted both by the federal government and vaccine manufacturers to create vaccines to prevent COVID-19. No safety protocols or testing requirements were bypassed. Instead, experts worked around the clock for several months to develop, test and seek approval for human use through a transparent process. Decades of research from leading medical experts have proven vaccines are safe and effective. Further, vaccines are continuously monitored for safety and possible adverse events by the CDC.

How the COVID-19 Vaccines Work

Are there side effects to these vaccines?

Short-term mild or moderate side effects are normal after receiving vaccines. Side effects can be a sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. Common side effects may include a headache, chills, fatigue, muscle pain or a fever lasting a day or two. In rare instances, people can develop an allergic reaction shortly after they have been vaccinated. For this reason, all who receive vaccines are closely monitored for a period afterward by trained vaccine providers. The COVID-19 vaccine is not recommended for those who have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in COVID-19 vaccines or after a previous dose of the vaccine.

Can I get vaccinated and still get COVID-19?

After receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, it takes several weeks before a person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (please refer to “Peak Immunity” in the chart above). If you are exposed to COVID-19 just prior to or during this window after receiving the vaccines, it is still possible to get the virus.

Can the vaccines cause COVID-19?

No. None of the approved vaccines are activated virus vaccines and cannot give you COVID-19.

Are COVID-19 vaccines a treatment or cure if I do get the virus?

No, while COVID-19 vaccines can prevent you from getting the COVID-19 virus, if you have an active infection, these vaccines are not a treatment or cure.

How will the COVID-19 vaccines affect my body? I’ve heard rumors that the vaccines can alter DNA and might have long term side effects.

First, the vaccines cannot give you COVID-19. None of the vaccines use the live virus that causes COVID-19. None of the vaccines will affect or alter your genes or DNA. Vaccines generally don’t have long-term side effects and there is no reason to believe the COVID-19 vaccine will.  To be sure, the FDA and the scientists, health and medical experts, and researchers who developed the vaccine are closely monitoring for side effects and symptoms reported by anyone who is vaccinated, watching out for any patterns that are out of the ordinary. Data will continue to be collected for two years after each vaccine is first administered to ensure that they are safe for the long term.

Am I permanently immune after getting vaccinated?

Because this is a new virus and these are new vaccines, we don’t yet know how long immunity will last and whether additional doses will be needed. The FDA, scientists, and health and medical experts who developed the vaccines are continuing to study the virus and vaccines closely to understand how long immunity lasts and how well the vaccines protect against new mutations of the virus.

Do the vaccines protect against the COVID-19 variants?

According to federal and state medical experts, the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be reasonably effective at preventing against these new variants. Dr. Fauci states, “When you get a variant that diminishes the capability of the vaccine, when you get a good vaccine…you cannot necessarily get the get the best possible response, but it’s still within the cushion of effectiveness.”

Deciding to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine

Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 immunizations hold the best hope for getting our lives and our economy back to normal and bringing an end to the pandemic. All of the approved COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19 which can lead to hospitalization and/or death.

Is there a cost to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free.

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

Yes, if you previously had COVID-19, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, you can and should still receive the vaccine.

Can I receive other vaccines at the same time I receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The CDC states that you may receive a COVID-19 vaccine before, at the same visit, or after other vaccines without regard to timing.

Should children and adolescents be given these vaccines?

Yes. Children ages 5 and older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

I’m healthy, why should I bother to get vaccinated?

While older individuals and those with underlying conditions may be more severely impacted by the virus, there are reports of young and healthy individuals being hospitalized and even dying from it. As a result, healthy individuals should be vaccinated when eligible to protect themselves. Further, experts are saying we may need 70-90% of the population vaccinated to reach herd (or community) immunity to prevent its spread and to protect those who cannot be vaccinated.

Should pregnant individuals get the vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now or who might become pregnant in the future. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ also states that there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility and recommends vaccination for anyone who may consider getting pregnant in the future. If you are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant and have questions about COVID-19 vaccines, please consult with your health care provider.

Where can I get the vaccine?

There are many locations currently providing COVID vaccines. To find a location near you, please use the following resources.

CDC Vaccine Locator Tool
NYS COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Tool
NYC COVID-19 Vaccine Locator Tool

Where can I go to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines?

While there are many resources available to learn more about the COVID-19 virus and the recently approved vaccines, we urge you to rely on trusted sources of science and evidence-based information. This includes speaking with a trusted health care provider and also viewing federal and state resources to learn more including the following:

CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Information
NYS Department of Health
Let’s Get Immunized NY

Other COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The Campaign

Let's Get Immunized NY does not endorse or promote any specific vaccinations/related products. The Campaign aims to serve as a resource on vaccine information generally.

Let's Get Immunized NY is made possible by the New York State Academy of Family Physicians Foundation with strong direct and in-kind support from its many partners including donations from Pfizer, AAFP Foundation, Family Medicine Philanthropic Consortium, New York State Association of Healthcare Providers, New York State Society of Anesthesiologists, Community Pharmacy Association of New York State, Noble Gas Solutions and Iroquois Health Care Association.