Yes. You should get the vaccine even if you have already had COVID-19. Some people have gotten COVID-19 more than once. The vaccine also offers more protection against reinfection than your body could develop on its own from already having COVID-19. You can get vaccinated as soon as you are out of your isolation period and are feeling better.

Vaccine will continue to be available to all at no cost, regardless of insurance or immigration status. However, where people go to get the updated vaccine may be a little different as a result of the end of the federal public health emergency and the commercialization of the vaccine.

People with private health insurance or Medicaid or Medicare coverage should go to a pharmacy or doctor’s office to get their updated COVID-19 vaccine. Visit vaccines.gov to find a provider near you. 

For uninsured and underinsured Chicagoans, CDPH will be offering vaccine at no cost regardless of immigration status. Visit our Immunization Clinics page for more information. You can also visit a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) across Chicago. Visit https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/ to find a FQHC near you.

No cost vaccines are also available at select pharmacies participating in the Bridge Access Program. Visit vaccines.gov to find Bridge Access participant pharmacies near you.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months and older get the 2023 updated COVID-19 vaccine.
All adults and youth age 5 and above only need one dose of the new Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, regardless of previous vaccination state.

For children who have not been previously vaccinated:

  • Children age 6 month to 4 years old are recommended to get either 2 doses of the Moderna vaccine or 3 doses of the Pfizer vaccine
  • Children age 5 years or older are recommended to get one dose of either the Pfizer the Moderna vaccine.

For children who have been previously vaccinated:

  • Children age 6 months or older are recommended to get one dose of either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine.

Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may need additional doses. Talk to your healthcare provider and see CDC’s vaccination schedule for additional details.

  • In June 2022, the FDA and CDC have approved Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine as another primary series option for adults ages 18 years and older.
  • Novavax is a protein subunit vaccine. These vaccines package harmless proteins of the COVID-19 virus alongside another ingredient called an adjuvant that helps develop the immune system respond to the virus.
  • Vaccines using protein subunits have been used for more than 30 years in the United States, beginning with the first licensed hepatitis B vaccine. Other protein subunit vaccines used in the United States today include those to protect against influenza and whooping cough. Learn more here.

Similar to the flu vaccine, it will take a few weeks after completing the COVID-19 vaccine before your body builds up the immune response to protect against COVID-19. ​No vaccine is 100% protective, and they are less effective at preventing infection with newer variants. However, vaccines continue to be highly protective against severe outcomes related to COVID-19, including hospitalization and death.

No one actively fighting off COVID-19 or any acute disease should get boosted or vaccinated for any condition while in recovery. Immunization requires much of an individual's reserves, and even asymptomatic individuals could quickly become symptomatic.

The best time to get vaccinated is after 10 days without disease, or if asymptomatic, or after COVID symptoms are resolved (usually 10-14 days from the onset of symptoms).

While most people who get COVID-19 recover, some develop serious health issues that can affect them for a long time. By getting the vaccine, you lessen your risk of getting sick or being hospitalized with COVID-19. You also are helping to reduce spread of COVID-19.

CDPH recommends bringing your insurance card (if you are insured) and your CDC vaccination card to your appointment. No one will be turned away.

You will get a new COVID vaccination card. CDC recommends completing a second card and stapling the two cards together as a best practice to document vaccine history.

While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect your children and those around them from COVID-19.

Yes. All approved COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens are effective at preventing severe outcomes related to COVID-19.

Clinical trials, with thousands of volunteers, showed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be safe and effective for children age 5 and up. As with all COVID-19 vaccines, every study, every phase, and every trial to determine the vaccine is safe for children was reviewed by the FDA and a vaccine safety group. The CDC continues to monitor the vaccine for safety. They have identified no concerns about long term impacts. There is no evidence that the vaccine impacts puberty or reproductive development in any way.

“Mix and match” dosing is allowed for children 5 years of age and older. Children 6 months – 4 years of age who previously completed a primary series with one brand may switch to a different brand when receiving an updated dose, if the brand used for the primary series is not readily available on the day of vaccination. Whenever possible, use the same brand for all recommended doses in a primary series for children 6 months – 4 years of age. If not possible, use of another brand is acceptable.

CDC Guidance on Interchangeability of COVID-19 Vaccines

No. The COVID-19 vaccines were created quickly, but scientists have been working on this technology (mRNA) for 10+ years. Scientists all over the world worked together and shared information – in a way that has never been seen before – to address the COVID-19 crisis and create these vaccines.

The vaccine studies, including those for youth, had thousands of volunteers and showed that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are safe. More than 5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Chicago safely and the CDC continues to monitor the vaccine for safety.

Vaccines prevent disease by helping your body form a “memory” of it, so if you were ever exposed to the virus, your body would know how to fight it.

Things to know about the mRNA vaccines:

  • mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. They CANNOT give someone COVID-19.
  • mRNA vaccines DO NOT affect or interact with our DNA in any way.

There may be some temporary side effects, like soreness at the injection site, feeling tired, or having a headache. All are signs that the body is building protection for COVID-19.

Since April 2021, there have been less than one thousand confirmed reports of cases of inflammation of the heart – called myocarditis and pericarditis – happening after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination for people under 30. These reports are rare given the hundreds of millions of vaccine doses administered.

CDC and its partners are actively monitoring these reports, by reviewing data and medical records, to learn more about what happened and to see if there is any relationship to COVID-19 vaccination. Most patients who received care responded well with treatment and rest and quickly felt better. Cases of myocarditis or pericarditis have been predominantly in males age 12-29 years. Symptoms (including chest pain, pressure, heart palpitations, and difficulty breathing after exercise or when lying down) typically develop within a few days after receipt of the second dose of vaccine.

CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older, given the greater risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about myocarditis.

We get it. Getting a shot is no fun. However, protecting your child and the people around them from COVID-19 is worth it. Find tips on getting through the needlestick here.

​If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, you are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 compared to people who are not pregnant. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) all strongly recommend you to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, either before or during pregnancy. This includes the new bivalent mRNA booster vaccine.

Yes. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine reduces your risk of getting COVID-19 and spreading it to others, including your baby. Studies of people who are pregnant and got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines found antibodies in babies’ cord blood and pregnant people’s breast milk. Another recent study showed maternal vaccination with two doses of mRNA vaccine was associated with a reduced risk of hospitalization for COVID-19, including for critical illness, among infants younger than 6 months of age.

Maternal Vaccination and Risk of Hospitalization for Covid-19 among Infants | NEJM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the COVID-19 vaccination for who are breastfeeding. COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby, and the vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. More data are needed to determine what protection these antibodies may provide to the baby.

There is no possibility that you can get COVID-19 from any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA to train the body to respond to the COVID virus without using ​any live virus. ​The mRNA used in these vaccines is code for a protein that is specific to the COVID-19 virus but does not cause any harm to you. Watch this Behind the Science video for more information.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses an inactive, non-replicating vector virus that teaches your body how to fight off COVID-19. Watch this Behind the Science video for more information.

Yes. More than 260 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. You cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine. You may have some side effects after COVID-19 vaccination, but they should go away in a few days. No long-term side effects have been detected. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines impact puberty or reproductive development in any way.

The CDC has updated its recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, with a preference for people to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna). The CDC’s statement is available here. According to the CDC and the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), due to both higher vaccine effectiveness of mRNA vaccines and some rare adverse events associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the risk/benefit analysis makes the mRNA vaccines a better choice than the J&J vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still available for those who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine, and adverse side effects are rare.

All COVID-19 vaccines have completed multiple stages of clinical trials and were given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved for those 6 months and older, and J&J vaccines for those 18 and older. In July 2022, the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine was granted EUA for 18 and older. The CDC, along with the FDA and other federal partners, will use established safety systems to conduct heightened safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines. Additional safety measures include active surveillance using text messaging and web surveys from CDC and enhanced passive surveillance through other data sources from healthcare facilities.

Public health officials will continue to monitor the safety and side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, and will take appropriate actions to determine if recommendations for vaccine use should change thereafter.

You can find the ingredient lists of all vaccines on their websites. None of the vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. Instead, these vaccines contain “instructions” from the virus so that your body can learn how to create the proteins needed to fight it. 

Having some side effects isn't necessarily a bad thing. Vaccinations may cause mild COVID-19-like symptoms, but this is a sign your immune system is responding to the vaccine. The vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give you COVID-19. The most common side effects are fever, chills, tiredness, or headache. At the injection site, you may experience pain, redness or swelling. Although these side effects may be unpleasant for 1-3 days, they are not dangerous. People with a history of significant allergic reactions to vaccines, food, or medicine should consult with their doctor before receiving the vaccine.

Current COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be effective at preventing severe outcomes – such as hospitalization or death – from the virus and its variants.

In an emergency, like a pandemic, it may not be possible to have all the evidence that the FDA would usually have before approving a drug, device, or a test. When there is a declared emergency, the FDA can allow the use of a product, like a vaccine, before full approval by issuing an Emergency Use Authorization or EUA.

After the requisite determination and declaration have been issued, and after feasible and appropriate consultations, FDA may issue an EUA only if FDA concludes that the following four statutory criteria for issuance have been met.

  1. Serious or Life-Threatening Disease or Condition
  2. Evidence of Effectiveness
  3. Risk-Benefit Analysis
  4. No Alternatives

More information on EUA is available on the FDA website.

The COVID-19 vaccine was developed through the Health and Human Services’ Operation Warp Speed. No safety measures were cut in its design, testing or manufacturing. A focus was placed on early manufacturing and the use of new technologies so as soon as the vaccine was deemed safe by the appropriate agencies, distribution could begin.

Pfizer’s clinical trial enrolled 43,000+ participants with 42% globally having racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Moderna’s 30,000 trial ​included participants from minority communities, including 6,000 Hispanic and 3,000 Black participants. AstraZeneca’s initial trial data included participants from Brazil and the United Kingdom while the company continues to conduct trials in South Africa, Kenya, Latin America, Japan, Russia and the United States.

You can tell the CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine through their V-safe website V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And, v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one. Your participation in CDC’s v–safe makes a difference — it helps keep COVID-19 vaccines safe.

Yes! “Mix and match” dosing is allowed for children 5 years of age and older receiving the updated COVID-19 vaccine.

CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine doses from the same manufacturer; however, an age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccine from a different may be administered:

  • same brand not available
  • previous dose unknown
  • person would otherwise not receive a recommended vaccine dose
  • person starts but unable to complete vaccination series with same vaccine due to a contraindication

Children 6 months – 4 years of age who previously completed a primary series with one brand may switch to a different brand when receiving an updated dose, if the brand used for the primary series is not readily available on the day of vaccination. Whenever possible, use the same brand for all recommended doses in a primary series for children 6 months – 4 years of age. If not possible, use of another brand is acceptable.

CDC Guidance on Interchangeability of COVID-19 Vaccines

Yes, if a patient is eligible, both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit, as recommended by CDC and ACIP. In addition to flu vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine can be given with other vaccines as well, talk to your healthcare provider to learn more.