Vaccine Basics

Federal health officials now recommend that people ages 65 and older should receive one additional dose of the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. The recommendation is based on evidence that older adults are at greatest risk of serious illness or hospitalization if they get COVID-19 and therefore additional protection is warranted. The additional dose is to be administered at least 4 months following the initial dose of the vaccine that was released in Fall 2023. The vaccine, which was designed to target circulating variants in 2023-24, is still widely available at pharmacies and medical clinics.

COVID-19 vaccines for children are safe and prevent severe illness.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance


We understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated. While these vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. Safety is a top priority and no steps are skipped during the clinical trial process for COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine safety checks are in-progress and will continue as long as a vaccine is available.

No steps are skipped during the clinical trial process for the COVID-19 vaccine

  • The FDA authorizes vaccines after they pass three phases of clinical trials
  • These clinical trials require thousands of people and months of data
  • The vaccine development is faster than normal because some steps are being done at the same time instead of one after another
  • When a vaccine trial is paused or cancelled, it is normal and means the safety checks are working
  • Vaccine recalls are rare. If a recall is issued, the FDA and CDC will let health officials and the media know immediately
  • After the vaccine is authorized, FDA and CDC will continue to monitor it using three federal safety systems that are already in place

Vaccine Safety Checks Are In Progress And Will Continue As Long As A Vaccine Is Available

Early Studies Have Shown The Vaccine Is Still Effective Against COVID-19 Variants

  • Evidence suggests that variants can spread more easily but there is no evidence that the new strain affects the sensitivity of diagnostic tests or that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death
  • Data suggest current vaccines will be effective and safe in providing protection against the variant

Benefits of The COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine has proven to protect you from severe outcomes - like hospitalization and death - due to COVID-19.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccination Will Help Keep You Safe From COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccination Is A Safer Way To Help Build Protection

  • COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you.
  • Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. But experts don’t know how long this protection lasts.
  • The risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response.
  • Together, COVID-19 vaccination and everyday preventative actions offer the best protection from COVID-19.
  • Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

Vaccination Is An Important Tool to Help Manage The Spread of COVID-19

mRNA Vaccines: Two Vaccines Were Developed Using a New Vaccine Technology That Employs Messenger RNA (mRNA)

  • mRNA vaccines are being held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the United States. The only COVID-19 vaccines the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will make available for use in the United States (by approval or emergency use authorization) are those that meet these standards.
  • mRNA vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19. They do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.
  • mRNA vaccines do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our genetic material (DNA) is kept. The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.

Vaccine History

Vaccinations have saved hundreds of millions of lives over the last century. Scientists have developed vaccines for Smallpox, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis, Meningitis and more. The WHO considers vaccine development one of the greatest global health achievements.