En español | Who's eligible to get vaccinated?
- Everyone age 6 months and up can get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
- The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine is authorized for people 18 and older who only have access to the J&J vaccine, or who cannot receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for medical reasons. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated its J&J guidance due to a rare but serious blood clotting disorder associated with the one-shot vaccine.
Who's eligible for booster shots?
- People ages 5 to 17: Pfizer recipients ages 5 to 17 should get a booster at least five months after completing their initial two-shot series, according to the CDC.
- People age 18 and older: Moderna recipients should get their booster five months after their second shot, and Johnson & Johnson recipients should get a booster at least two months after the first shot.
- Second boosters: Those age 50 and older should get a second booster of Pfizer or Moderna at least four months after their initial booster, the CDC says. Adolescents age 12 and older who are immunocompromised or have had certain organ transplants should also get a second Pfizer booster. People age 18 and older with the same health conditions can get a second Moderna booster. And people who are immunocompromised and have already gotten four shots — three in the primary series and one booster — are eligible for a fifth.
Third doses of Pfizer and Moderna, distinct from boosters, are recommended for specific immunocompromised people age 12 and older. These recipients may also get a booster — a fourth dose — at least six months after the third shot, according to CDC guidance. The agency recommends that children ages 5 to 11 who are immunocompromised get a third Pfizer dose 28 days after their second shot.
Can I mix and match boosters?
It’s safe and effective to choose which vaccine you receive as a booster.
How are vaccines for kids being handled?
Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years is a three-shot series — with the first two shots three weeks apart and the final shot at least two months later, according to CDC recommendations. The Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is given in two shots, three weeks apart.
Moderna’s vaccine for children is a two-shot series given over the course of a month, with smaller doses given to children younger than 12 years old. Immunocompromised children can also receive a third dose of Moderna’s vaccine at least four weeks after their second.
Doses for kids are available at doctors’ offices and certain retail pharmacies. Call your doctor or check pharmacy websites.
Where can I get a vaccine or booster?
- 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).
- Retail pharmacies like Walmart or Sam’s Club may offer scheduled or walk-in vaccine and booster appointments. You’ll need to create an account with your name and email to get a vaccine through Walmart or create a guest account to go through Sam’s Club. Kroger, LeaderNET and the Medicine Shoppe are also offering vaccines at some locations. 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.
- Check the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website for more information. You can also contact your county health department for help scheduling an appointment. Tennessee'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.
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 can occur post-vaccination.
This guide was originally published on Jan. 6, 2021, and was updated on June 24, 2022, with new information about vaccines for children.