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How to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine in Washington

Life Care Center of Kirkland Residents Receive COVID-19 Vaccinations
Pharmacists prepare to distribute COVID-19 vaccines at a clinic in Kirkland.
Karen Ducey/Getty Images

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • People 12 and older who live or work in Washington state

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Local and state vaccination sites, including hospitals, county health departments, community health centers, medical centers, pharmacies, local events and the state's mass vaccination sites can be found via the state’s Vaccinate WA website. The site asks for your zip code, then generates a list of nearby providers, including their name, location, vaccine availability (if provided) and a link to where to register for an appointment. Some locations are taking walk-ins, no appointment necessary.
  • The federal government’s vaccines websiteVaccines.gov, 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).
  • Through your employer or living facility. Some Washingtonians who work or live in healthcare settings, such hospitals or nursing homes, may be able to get vaccinated through their workplaces or residences. Check before scheduling an appointment.
  • The state’s toll-free COVID-19 helplines at 800-525-0127 (press #) and 888-856-5816 can assist those needing extra help finding or registering for an appointment. Questions can also be emailed to COVID.Vaccine@doh.wa.gov.

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?

Some providers may ask for your 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.

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

How are residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities getting vaccinated?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Washington were offered COVID-19 vaccinations through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer 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, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots, the federal government is continuing to allocate doses to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities. 

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 stating when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.   

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. 

It’s still unclear how long protection from the vaccines lasts. Many experts predict boosters will be needed in the future, however no clear timeline for additional shots has been established. 

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.

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. 

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.

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 also 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 Jan. 22, was updated on July 28 with the latest CDC mask recommendations for the fully vaccinated.

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