En español | Who can get vaccinated now?
- Everyone age 5 and up
Who's eligible for a booster shot?
Those ages 12 and older who got the Pfizer vaccine should get a booster five months after completing their initial two-shot series, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Moderna vaccine recipients ages 18 and older should get their booster five months after their second shot, and Johnson & Johnson recipients should get a booster dose at least two months after their first shot. The CDC says Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferable to Johnson & Johnson's due to a rare but serious blood clotting disorder associated with the one-shot vaccine.
Third doses of Pfizer and Moderna, distinct from boosters, are recommended for specific immunocompromised people, including organ transplant recipients and certain cancer patients. These recipients may also get a booster — a fourth dose — at least six months after the third shot, according to CDC guidance. A third Pfizer dose is also recommended for children ages 5 to 11 who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, 28 days following their second shot.
Can I mix and match boosters?
Yes, it’s safe and effective to choose which vaccine you receive as a booster — whether it’s the one you got initially or another vaccine, according to CDC recommendations.
Which vaccine is authorized for kids?
Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for children age 5 and older; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. Pfizer’s vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds is one-third the dose given to people age 12 and up, and is given in two doses, three weeks apart, according to CDC recommendations. Shots for kids are available at doctors’ offices and certain retail pharmacies. Call your doctor or check pharmacy websites. Both Pfizer and Moderna are researching how their vaccines work in children as young as 6 months.
Where can I get a vaccine or booster?
- Pharmacies, health clinics and medical providers. Use the state's vaccine registration portal or contact your local health department to get a vaccine or booster appointment. Register for a CVS appointment — including at some Target stores with CVS pharmacies inside — online or by calling 800-746-7287. Or use the Walgreens, Walmart or Albertsons websites to schedule an appointment. Note that some pharmacy websites require you to answer questions about your vaccination status before presenting the option for a booster. Many sites let you book appointments for the specific brand of vaccine or booster you prefer, based on availability. Some providers are offering vaccines and boosters to walk-ins, no appointment necessary.
- The federal government’s vaccines website, Vaccines.gov, lets you search for vaccine and booster sites by zip code, with links to appointments. Get the same information by texting your zip code to 438829 or by calling 800-232-0233 (TTY: 888-720-7489). California's COVID-19 dashboard tracks how many people have been vaccinated in the state.
- Veterans Affairs facilities are vaccinating veterans, spouses and veteran caregivers. You can sign up with VA.
- Many transit agencies are offering free or discounted rides to and from vaccination sites.
What should I bring to my vaccine or booster appointment?
Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, along with your health insurance card, if you have one. You won’t be charged for the initial vaccine series, or a booster shot, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine. After your first shot, bring your vaccine card for subsequent shots.
How are vaccinations working in nursing homes and long-term care facilities?
Most long-term care residents and staff were offered first and second doses through a federal program that provided free on-site vaccinations in late 2020 and early 2021. The program has ended, but the federal government continues to allocate COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to pharmacies that are partnered with long-term care facilities to provide vaccinations, mainly on-site.
Facilities that don’t have a pharmacy partner are encouraged to work with local or state health departments — or the federal government, if need be — to provide vaccinations.
Which vaccines require two initial doses?
Both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine requires just one shot, with a recommended booster two months later.
Do I have to pay for the vaccination?
You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine or a booster. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself.
Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.
What should I do with my vaccine card?
You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.
You may need your vaccine card to schedule a third vaccine dose, for certain immunocompromised people, or a booster shot. You may also need it for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft.
If you’ve lost your vaccine card, call the site where you were vaccinated to request a new one or a copy of your vaccination record. You can also contact your state health department to request a replacement card or a copy of your record.
How protected am I post-vaccination? I’ve heard about breakthrough infections.
All three vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections and are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from the disease. But no vaccine is 100 percent effective and breakthrough infections, while relatively rare, have been reported.
The CDC is tracking breakthrough infections and illness and death among vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.
Where can I get more information in my region?
- California Statewide Notification Page
- Alameda County: Alameda County Public Health Department COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- Contra Costa County: Contra Costa Health Services Department COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- El Dorado County: El Dorado County Health and Human Services Department COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- Fresno: Fresno County Department of Public Health
- Los Angeles County: County of Los Angeles Public Health Department COVID-19 Hub | County of Los Angeles Public Health Department COVID-19 Vaccine Resources
- Marin County: Marin County Health & Human Services COVID-19 & Vaccine Information
- Napa County: Napa County COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- Placer County: County of Placer Health and Human Services Department COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- Sacramento County: Sacramento County COVID-19 Information | Sacramento County COVID-19 Vaccine Information
- Santa Clara County: Santa Clara County Public Health Department COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- San Diego County: San Diego County COVID-19 Information | San Diego County Vaccine Information
- San Francisco County: City and County of San Francisco COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- San Mateo County: San Mateo County Health Department COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- Solano County: Solano County COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- Sonoma County: Sonoma County COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- Sutter County: Sutter County COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- Yolo County: Yolo County COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
- Yuba County: Yuba County COVID-19 and Vaccine Information
This guide, first published on Dec. 18, 2020, was updated on Jan. 7, 2022, with more information about booster shots.