Who is eligible to get vaccinated?
- Everyone age 12 and up.
- Third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are recommended for certain immunocompromised people.
Where can I get vaccinated?
- Government-run community sites, hospitals, health clinics, local pharmacies, and other vaccination sites can be accessed through the Virginia health department’s COVID-19 website, excluding Fairfax County residents, who can sign up online here. Virginia's COVID-19 data dashboard is tracking how many people have been vaccinated in the state.
- Pharmacies, including select CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Rite Aid locations, don’t require appointments for vaccinations. But if you'd prefer to schedule your shot in advance, follow the links to book online.
- You can also find more retail pharmacies and other providers by using www.vaccines.gov, the federal government’s vaccines website. Get the same information by texting your zip code to 438829 or by calling 800-232-0233 (TTY: 888-720-7489).
- Veterans Affairs facilities are vaccinating veterans, spouses and veteran caregivers. You can sign up with VA.
- Many transit agencies are offering free or discount rides to and from vaccination sites.
Will I need a booster shot?
People who’ve received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should plan to get a booster eight months after their second shot, pending federal approval, the Biden administration says. Boosters may be available for certain groups as early as Sept. 20. A Johnson & Johnson booster could be approved later this year.
If you’re immunocompromised and think you may be eligible for a third shot, the CDC recommends talking with your health care provider about your medical condition and whether getting an additional dose makes sense. You can make a third-dose appointment at the locations above or get a walk-in appointment at some pharmacies. You’ll need the dates of your previous COVID vaccinations (available on your vaccination card) when making an appointment for a third dose. You may also need to present proof of your medical condition.
What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?
Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.
How are vaccinations working in nursing homes and long-term care facilities?
Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Virginia were offered COVID-19 vaccinations through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines via free on-site clinics. The program has ended, but to ensure long-term care facilities still have access to vaccines for new residents or staff, the federal government is continuing to allocate doses to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities.
AARP is calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for nursing home residents and staff. The federal government has ordered all nursing home staff be vaccinated in order to receive Medicare and Medicaid dollars.
Virginia has mandated all state employees - among them, health care staff - be vaccinated or subject to weekly COVID-19 testing and masking on the job. The policy goes into effect Sept. 1.
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. A Food and Drug Administration warning says the vaccine has been connected with rare, severe blood clots in a small number of recipients, especially in women age 50 years and younger, and an increased risk of developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder.
Do I have to pay for the vaccination?
You should not have any out-of-pocket costs for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself.
There are reports of scammers 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 and may want to take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. But experts warn 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 the Virginia health department to request a replacement card or a copy of your record.
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.
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 rare, have been reported.
According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, breakthrough infections affect only 0.01 to 0.29 percent of fully vaccinated people in states that have reported data. The CDC is tracking the tiny percentage of fully vaccinated people in the United States who have been hospitalized with or died from COVID-19.
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. Due to the continuing circulation of the Delta variant, the CDC is recommending fully vaccinated people in areas with high and substantial COVID-19 transmission wear a mask in indoor settings, including schools. 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 was updated on Sept. 10 with new information about booster shots.
Also of Interest:
- What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?
- What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines
- Read AARP's full coronavirus coverage