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How to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Vaccine 2
Nurse Carmen Ocasio (left) gets a COVID-19 shot in San Juan as former
U.S. Surgeon General Antonia Coello de Novello looks on,

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Everyone age 12 and up

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Certain retail pharmacies, health clinics and medical providers, some of which are accepting walk-ins, no appointment necessary. If you'd prefer to book an appointment ahead of time, you can do so through the websites of Walmart, Costco, Walgreens and CVS.
  • Six regional centers operated by the National Guard: Centro de Bellas in Caguas; the Palacio de Recreación y Deportes in Mayagüez; the Coliseo Rubén Rodríguez in Bayamón; Coliseo Petaca Iguina in Arecibo; the Complejo Ferial in Ponce; the Coliseo Pedrín Zorilla in San Juan.
  • The territory’s COVID-19 call center (operating 24/7, in Spanish) offers names and contact information for local vaccine providers. Call 1-787-999-6202.
  • The federal government’s vaccines, lets you search for vaccination 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).
  • Many transit agencies are offering free or discounted rides to and from vaccination sites. So are Uber and Lyft. Book a ride through their mobile apps or online.

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

You'll be required to show ID at Puerto Rico's vaccination sites. Officials recommend you bring documentation that shows your date of birth, such as a passport or birth certificate.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment. 

How will residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get vaccinated?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Puerto Rico were offered vaccines through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to give out free shots at on-site clinics. The program has ended, but the federal government is still allocating vaccines to ensure facilities have access to shots for new residents and staff, as well as those who were initially hesitant to receive them.

Which vaccines require a second shot? 

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider saying when and where to return for the second dose.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine requires just one shot. Federal officials warn that the vaccine has been connected with rare, severe blood clots in a small number of recipients, especially in women age 50 years and younger.

It’s still unclear how long the vaccines protect recipients. Many experts predict boosters will be needed in the future, but there is currently no clear timeline for additional shots.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?  

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

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.

When will kids be able to get vaccinated? 

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for those age 12 and older; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. Both Pfizer and Moderna are researching how their vaccines work in children as young as 6 months.

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 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 lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy. 
Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated? 

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and after the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, the CDC says, fully vaccinated people can gather indoors and outdoors without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by state and federal law and local business and workplace requirements. 

The CDC recommends continuing to wear a mask on planes, buses and trains and other shared transport while traveling into, within or out of the United States.
This guide, originally published January 22, was updated on July 12 with new information about free and discounted rides to vaccination sites.

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