Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 vaccines protect people from getting very sick from COVID-19 and ending up in the hospital or dying. They also reduce the risk of becoming chronically ill from COVID-19 (such as long COVID), and from missing work and school.
In addition, getting vaccinated lowers the risk of giving COVID-19 to other people. This is especially helpful in protecting people at higher risk of getting very sick.
It is recommended that people who've had COVID-19 in the past still get the vaccine to strengthen their immunity and to reduce their risk of getting hospitalized with COVID-19.Updated 9/15/22
The COVID-19 vaccines work very well at protecting against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. Compared to people who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, unvaccinated people are more likely to get COVID-19, much more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, and much more likely to die from COVID-19.
Experts are seeing that the protection can weaken over time, especially for certain groups of people, such as those ages 65 years and older and people with weak immune systems. Booster doses help to restore this protection. This is why a booster is recommended for everyone ages 12 and over and for some children. (See Booster Doses for more information.)
As the science and the virus evolves, so do vaccine recommendations. Scientists and medical experts continue to closely watch for signs of decreased immunity in people of different ages and with different risk factors. They also look at how well the vaccines protect against new variants of the virus.Updated 9/15/22
Four COVID-19 vaccines are approved or authorized in the in the US to prevent COVID-19. They are made by Pfizer-BioNTech (brand name Comirnaty), Moderna (brand name Spikevax), Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are authorized for people age 6 months and older. The Novavax vaccines are authorized for people ages of 12 years and older. The Johnson & Johnson (J&J vaccines are authorized for adults ages 18 and over.
The CDC recommends the Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax COVID-19 vaccines over the J&J vaccine. The J&J vaccine can be considered in some situations.
To learn more, visit the CDC Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 Vaccines webpage.Updated 9/15/22
Getting the vaccine
Vaccines are available at hundreds of locations throughout LA County such as clinics, pharmacies, worksites, schools, places of worship, and other community locations. In-home vaccination is available for people who are homebound. Many locations do not require an appointment.
To get a vaccine visit VaccinateLACounty.com and select “Click Here to Get Vaccinated“ to find a location or request an in-home vaccination. If you need help, you can call the DPH Vaccine Call Center at 833-540-0473, 7 days a week from 8am to 8:30pm. They can arrange in-home vaccination, free transportation to a vaccination site, or help with paratransit and other services for people with disabilities. Information is also available in multiple languages 24/7 by calling 2-1-1.Updated 5/05/22
No. If you have insurance, your doctor or pharmacy may charge your insurance company a fee for giving the vaccine. People without health insurance can also get COVID-19 vaccines at no cost. There are no out-of-pocket payments for anyone.Reviewed 5/05/22
No. COVID-19 vaccine is being given at no cost regardless of immigration status. You will not be asked about your immigration status when you get a COVID vaccine. Your medical information is private and getting a COVID-19 vaccine does not affect your immigration status. You do not need a government-issued ID or a letter from your employer to get a vaccine. For questions about immigration, visit the Office of Immigrant Affairs webpage oia.lacounty.gov or call 800-593-8222.Reviewed 5/05/22
No. When you get a vaccine, you will be asked to give an email address or mobile phone number. This information will be entered into the State of California immunization registry (CAIR) so that you can get a digital COVID-19 vaccine record. It may also be used to send reminders if more COVID-19 vaccine doses are due or recommended. The digital vaccine record is a free and convenient way to prove your vaccination status. It is especially useful if you lose your white vaccine card. You don’t need to provide your email address or cell number to get a vaccine and a white CDC COVID-19 vaccination card. But this may make it harder to get a digital vaccine record later. You can learn more about the digital vaccination record at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov and about the confidentiality protections here.Reviewed 5/05/22
The CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (white card) is the official proof of vaccination. Everyone should be given one when they are vaccinated. Please keep it safe as it cannot be replaced. Consider taking a photo or making a photocopy of it.
Everyone who is vaccinated in California can request a digital COVID-19 Vaccination Record at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov. This is also an official record. It can be downloaded to the Google Pay digital wallet on an Android phone or the Apple Health app on an iPhone. You can also take a screenshot of your Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record and save it to your camera roll. You can get a record for each person in your family even if you used the same email address or mobile phone number when they got vaccinated. For more information, visit the Vaccination Records webpage.
*If you were vaccinated by a federal agency (e.g., Department of Defense, Indian Health Service or Veterans Affairs), you must request a vaccine record from the agency directly.Reviewed 5/05/22
Youth under 18 need consent from a parent/guardian or caregiver to get vaccinated. If you cannot be present, you may be allowed to give consent by phone, video, or in writing. Check the consent requirements of the place where you plan to go. If it is a location run by Public Health, you can see the requirements and download a consent form at ph.lacounty.gov/vaccineappointment - click on ‘preparing for your visit’ or call the Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-540-0473 (8am-8:30pm daily).
Some exceptions apply. Minors ages 15 years or older who are self-sufficient (e.g., emancipated or self-sufficient minor, married, or previously married) can give their own consent. If you are a foster caregiver, relative caregiver, or Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program (STRTP) staff you can provide consent as long as the foster child agrees. If you are a foster caregiver and you do not give consent but your foster child wants to get a vaccine, they can contact their legal counsel.New 5/05/22
Photo ID may be required at some vaccination locations. If you are a guardian of a child in foster care and your foster child does not have a photo ID, have them contact their legal counsel. Another option is to go to a location run by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which does not require a photo ID.
See above for information about consent. Check the requirements of the place you plan to go to. They may be found on their webpage or in an appointment confirmation email or text. For information about the requirements at LA County Department of Public Health vaccine sites, visit ph.lacounty.gov/vaccineappointment - click on ‘preparing for your visit’ or call the Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-540-0473 (8am-8:30pm daily).New 5/05/22
Yes. You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you already had COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19.
Getting COVID-19 offers some protection from future illness with COVID-19, sometimes called “natural immunity.” The level of protection people get from having COVID-19 may vary depending on how mild or severe their illness was, the time since their infection, and their age. There is currently no test available that can reliably determine if a person is protected from infection.
It is safe to get the vaccine after getting COVID-19, but you should wait until after you have recovered from being sick (if you had symptoms) and your isolation period is over. This is so that you don’t infect healthcare workers and others when you go to get vaccinated.
If you are due for a vaccine dose and were recently infected, you may choose to delay the dose (primary series or booster) for 3 months after the infection. This is because recent studies have shown that increasing the time between your infection and vaccination may improve your immune response. Also because there is a lower risk of re-infection for the weeks to months after your infection.
If you were sick with multisystem inflammatory syndrome of children or adults (MIS-C or MIS-A), talk with your doctor before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.Updated 5/25/22
Yes. Adults and children age 6 months and over can get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, such as measles, whooping cough, and flu. If your child gets a COVID-19 vaccine at a place that doesn’t offer the other vaccines that they need, you can go to a different location to get them at any time. There is no need to wait between vaccines.Updated 6/22/22
Most routine medical procedures or screenings can be done before or after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Note: if you are due for a routine screening mammogram and have been recently vaccinated for COVID-19, ask your doctor how long you should wait before you get your mammogram. People who have received a COVID-19 vaccine may get swelling in the lymph nodes (called lymphadenopathy) in the underarm near where they got the shot. This swelling is a normal sign that the body is building protection against COVID-19. This temporary swelling could cause a false reading on a mammogram, so it is important to tell the staff about your vaccination. For more details, see the Society of Breast Imaging’s Recommendations for Women Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine can also affect the results of some kinds of screening tests for tuberculosis (TB), see the CDC webpage COVID-19 Vaccination and Other Medical Procedures.Reviewed 5/05/22
- Remember to bring the required documentation and your email address or mobile phone number if you have one. If you made an appointment, read the information in the confirmation email. If you have any questions, it may be helpful to write them down.
- You should receive a paper or electronic version of a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific COVID-19 vaccine you are getting. Each approved and authorized COVID-19 vaccine has its own fact sheet that contains information to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving that specific vaccine. Learn more about different COVID-19 vaccines.
- Plan to stay at the appointment for up to an hour. This includes 15-30 minutes for you to be observed after you receive your vaccination.
- Do not stop your routine medicines before getting vaccinated unless your doctor recommends it.
- It is not recommended you take over-the-counter medicine (such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen) before vaccination to try to prevent vaccine-related side effects. It is not known how these medications might affect how well the vaccine works. If you take these medications regularly for other reasons, you should keep taking them before you get vaccinated. It is also not recommended to take antihistamines before getting a COVID-19 vaccine to try to prevent allergic reactions.
- Wear a mask and clothing that will allow easy access to your upper arm where the vaccine will be given. Eat a light snack before your appointment and stay hydrated (bring extra water, just in case).
- If you need to get another dose of COVID-19 vaccine, make sure that you know how and when to get it before you leave the vaccination site.
FULLY VACCINATED AND UP TO DATE
You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines immediately after you have received all the recommended doses in the primary series and the most recent booster dose recommended for you by CDC.
If you have completed your primary series, but are not yet eligible for a booster, you are also considered up to date. But when you become eligible for a booster dose, you are no longer up to date until you get that dose.
When people are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, they have the best protection from severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death.
See the LAC DPH COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule webpage at ph.lacounty.gov/covidvaccineschedules for information on all recommended primary and booster doses. For more details, see the CDC webpage, Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 Vaccines.Updated 9/13/22
You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving all the recommended primary series doses:
- You got your final dose of a Pfizer (COMIRNATY) or Moderna (SPIKEVAX) COVID-19 vaccine primary series, or
- You got a single dose of Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, or
- You got 2 doses of Novavax COVID-19 vaccine
- You got all the recommended doses of active COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) with confirmed efficacy in a clinical trial.
See the LAC DPH COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule webpage at ph.lacounty.gov/covidvaccineschedules for information on all recommended primary and booster doses.
If you were vaccinated outside the US or with mix-and-match vaccines, see Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines Including Boosters and scroll down to the relevant section(s) “Vaccination Outside the United States” or “Mixing COVID-19 Vaccine Products”.Updated 9/13/22
Fully vaccinated is a term used to describe people who have completed their COVID-19 vaccine primary series. Some situations require that a person be fully vaccinated. For example, being fully vaccinated may be a requirement for international travel, employment, attending school, or entering some venues.
Being up to date is used to describe people who have gotten all of the COVID-19 doses recommended for them, including booster doses. These people have the best protection from COVID-19.Updated 9/13/22
Booster doses are used for many different vaccines to provide continued protection against severe disease.
The COVID-19 vaccines continue to work well at protecting people from severe disease. Over time, however, the level of this protection can weaken. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster is important because it strengthens your immunity. This gives you better protection from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying.
Get the booster dose that is recommended for you (see below).Updated 9/14/22
This fall, the updated (bivalent) boosters have replaced the original (monovalent) boosters for people ages 12 and older. They are also known as the fall 2022 boosters.
These updated fall Pfizer and Moderna boosters contain the same basic ingredients as the original vaccines but have been updated to target the most recent Omicron subvariants (BA.4 and BA.5) as well as the original strain of the COVID-19 virus. The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants cause most of the current cases of COVID-19 in California. They are more contagious than earlier strains.
These updated fall boosters can both help restore protection that has lessened since previous vaccination or previous COVID-19 infection and can help provide broader protection against newer variants.Updated 9/14/22
Everyone 12 and older should get a fall (updated) bivalent booster at least 2 months after their last COVID-19 vaccine dose (either the final primary series dose or the last booster). This is regardless of how many boosters or which type of vaccine(s) they got in the past.
- Adults 18 and older get either the Pfizer or Moderna fall booster.
- Adolescents 12-17 get the Pfizer fall booster
Children ages 5 through 11 years who received a primary series of Pfizer vaccine should get the original (monovalent) booster at least 5 months after the last dose of the primary series (or at least 3 months after the last primary dose if the child is moderately or severely immunocompromised).
Booster doses are not currently recommended for the following groups:
- Children ages 6 months-4 years of age
- Children ages 5 through-11 years who received a primary series of Moderna vaccine.
When the FDA authorizes an updated booster for these age groups, the recommendations will change.
Visit the interactive Find Out When to Get a Booster tool on the CDC Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines Including Boosters webpage to see if you (or your child) can get a booster.
Talk to your doctor if you have questions.Updated 9/14/22
Yes. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you had COVID-19 provides added protection against it in the future.
- If you have COVID-19 now, wait until you have recovered (if you had symptoms) and finished isolation to get a COVID-19 vaccine. This is so that you don’t spread COVID-19 to healthcare workers and others when you go to get vaccinated.
- If you recently had COVID-19, you may consider delaying a vaccine dose (primary series or booster) by 3 months from when your symptoms started or when you first had a positive test (if you didn’t have any symptoms). Your risk of re-infection is often low in the first few months after recent COVID-19 infection.
Reactions after booster doses are like those after primary doses. Most side effects are mild to moderate and last 2 days or less. As with the primary series, serious side effects are rare. For more details, visit the CDC webpage Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines. The benefits of getting a booster dose outweigh any known and potential risks.Reviewed 9/14/22
No, you do not need a doctor’s note or prescription to get a booster dose. When you go to the location, take proof of vaccination such as your CDC white card or digital vaccination record. Visit the Public Health How to Get Vaccinated webpage for more information.Reviewed 9/14/22
About the Vaccine
Vaccines work by preparing your body’s natural defenses to recognize and fight off germs that can make you sick. Vaccines may contain:
- Dead or weakened versions of the germ.
- Substances made to look like part of the germ.
- Substances that teach the body to make proteins that look like part of the germ
When you get any vaccine, your immune system responds by:
- Making antibodies. These are proteins produced naturally by the immune system to fight disease.
- Preparing your immune cells to respond to future infection.
- Remembering the disease and how to fight it. If you are exposed to the germ after getting the vaccine, your immune system can quickly destroy it and prevent you from getting infected or prevent you from getting seriously ill.
All 4 COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available in the US work by teaching our immune cells how to make copycat spike proteins (the crown-like spikes on the surface of the COVID-19 virus). Making the spike protein does not harm our cells.
- Our immune system sees the spike protein and knows that it doesn’t belong there.
- Our bodies react by building an immune response. It makes antibodies that can act against the COVID-19 virus’s spike protein and it prepares immune cells. This will protect us if we are exposed to the virus in the future.
The COVID-19 vaccines differ in how they teach our cells to make the spike protein
- The vaccine made by J&J/Janssen is called a viral vector vaccine. The vector (or vehicle) carries the genetic material to our cells. Our cells read the genetic material and make mRNA, and this mRNA teaches our cells to make the spike protein. The viral vector is a harmless version of a common cold virus. It can’t replicate inside our cells and it cannot change our DNA in any way.
- The vaccine made by Novavax is called a protein subunit vaccine. It contains pieces of the spike protein. The vaccine also contains an ‘adjuvant” to strengthen the body’s immune response. Adjuvants are used in many vaccines.
None of these COVID-19 vaccines contain the COVID-19 virus in any form - live, weakened, or dead. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines.Updated 7/29/22
No, none of COVID-19 vaccines available for use in the United States contain any fetal tissue or fetal cells.
- Pfizer and Moderna did not use any fetal cell lines to develop or produce their COVID-19 vaccines. But they did use a fetal cell line for laboratory testing before their vaccines were tested on people.
- Johnson & Johnson used a fetal cell line to develop and test their COVID-19 vaccine. They also use it for production. The COVID-19 vaccines themselves do not contain any fetal cells.
The fetal cell lines were made in laboratories from cells from 2 abortions conducted in 1973 and 1985. None of the fetal cells used came from a recent abortion or from an abortion done for the sole purpose of vaccine development or other research.
The Catholic Church has reviewed the use of fetal cells for this purpose and has stated that “it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.” If this issue is of concern to you, we encourage you to review the document COVID-19 Vaccine and Fetal Cell Lines carefully so you can make an informed decision about getting vaccinated.Reviewed 5/09/22
PEOPLE WITH WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEMS
People with moderately or severely weakened immune systems (e.g., blood-related cancers or certain treatments for cancer, organ transplants, and certain autoimmune conditions) are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. They are more likely to get COVID-19 than people with normal immune systems. And if they get infected, they are more likely to get very ill and spread the virus to others.
In addition, some people with weak immune systems don’t build enough protection from the standard COVID-19 primary series.
For these reasons, people with moderately or severely weakened immune systems have different vaccine recommendations to help increase their protection. In addition, a medicine to help prevent COVID-19 infection called Evusheld is also recommended for many moderately or severely immunocompromised people (see below).Reviewed 9/16/22
It depends on your age and your COVID-19 vaccine primary series.
- If your primary series is with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you should get 3 doses
- If your primary series starts with a J&J vaccine, you should get 1 dose of the J&J vaccine plus a dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
- If your primary series is with the Novavax vaccine, you should get 2 doses
Adults and adolescents ages 12 years or older should get a fall (updated) bivalent booster at least 2 months after their last COVID-19 vaccine dose (either the final primary series dose or the last booster). This is regardless of how many boosters or which type of vaccine(s) they got in the past.
- Adults 18 and older get either the Pfizer or Moderna fall booster.
- Adolescents 12-17 get the Pfizer fall booster
Children ages 5 through 11 who received a primary series of Pfizer vaccine should get the original (monovalent) booster at least 3 months after their last primary dose. This means a total of 4 doses (3-dose primary series + 1 booster dose).
Children age 6 months through 4 years and children age 5-17 who receive the Moderna vaccine— booster doses are not currently recommended.
Visit the interactive Find Out When to Get a Booster tool on the CDC Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines Including Boosters webpage to find out when you (or your child) can get one or more COVID-19 boosters.
Ask your doctor about the best timing of your vaccine doses based on your current treatment plan. This is especially important if you are about to start or restart immunosuppressive treatment.
It is important to take other steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 in addition to getting the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Talk to your doctor about medicine to prevent COVID-19. A medicine called Evusheld is now available to prevent COVID-19 infection in people who can’t build enough protection from the vaccine alone. It is given as 2 separate injections into the buttocks during a single visit. It is given every 6 months to people age 12 and over who weigh at least 88 pounds. For more information, see the FDA Patient/Parent Evusheld Fact Sheet.
- Wear a protective mask such as a well-fitting respirator (e.g., N95, KN95, KF94) or a double mask for a higher level of protection. Avoid crowded indoor places or spaces with poor airflow when possible. For details, see ph.lacounty.gov/reducerisk and ph.lacounty.gov/masks.
- Encourage the people that you spend time with to help protect you. They should stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines including their fall booster (if age 12+), and take other steps to reduce their risk of getting and passing COVID-19 to you.
Safety and side effects
Common side effects after a COVID-19 vaccine include:
- Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the vaccine was given (or thigh for small children)
- Fever, chills
- Feeling tired
- Fussiness or crying (small children)
- Muscle or joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Nausea, loss of appetite
These side effects may limit your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away within a day or two. Most people only get mild side effects and some people do not get any side effects at all.
Side effects are normal and a sign that the vaccine is working. It shows that your body is learning to fight the virus and is building immunity. It is important to get all the recommended doses even if you got side effects after an earlier dose unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to.
Reactions after getting a COVID-19 vaccine can vary from person to person. Most people in clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccines had only mild side effects, and some of them had no side effects at all. Those people still had a strong immune response to the vaccine. Vaccination protects you from severe COVID-19 infection whether or not you have side effects after vaccination.Reviewed 9/16/22
Yes, serious reactions can happen but are very rare. Vaccine safety monitoring systems have identified the four serious health problems, described below. The Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax COVID-19 vaccines are now recommended over the J&J vaccine. One reason for this is because of a rare, but serious side effect linked with J&J vaccine. If you receive a vaccine, see Vaccine Side Effects to learn about possible symptoms to look out for.
- Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is a rare but serious allergic reaction that can happen after taking a medication or getting any vaccine. If it happens, healthcare providers can effectively and immediately treat the reaction. Other less severe allergic reactions can also happen. Learn more on the CDC webpage Allergic Reactions after COVID-19 Vaccination.
- Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after J&J vaccine: TTS is a rare but serious, and sometimes fatal condition involving blood clots and low platelets. TTS has been reported across a wide age range in males and females who received the J&J vaccine. Women ages 18-49 years should especially be aware of the rare but increased risk of this adverse event. To learn more, visit the CDC’s Adverse Events Reported After COVID-19 Vaccination.
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) after J&J vaccine: GBS is a rare disorder where the body’s immune system damages nerve cells. This causes muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent nerve damage. GBS has been reported in people who received the J&J vaccine. There were more cases in men, especially men age 50 and older. Nearly all of the people became ill within 6 weeks of getting the vaccine. Most became ill in the first 3 weeks. To learn more, visit the CDC’s Adverse Events Reported After COVID-19 Vaccination.
- Myocarditis and pericarditis after Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax vaccines: Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle and pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. Myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. Most people with myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination improve with medicine and rest and feel better quickly. People who experience these conditions can usually return to their normal daily activities after their symptoms improve.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines: Most of the cases have been reported after the second dose of vaccine. Male adolescents and young adults are more likely to be affected. Extending the time between 1st and 2nd doses has been shown to decrease the risk of myocarditis. This is one of the reasons why it is now recommended that teens and young adults consider getting the second dose 8 weeks after their first dose. The risk of myocarditis appears to be lower after a booster dose than after the second dose of vaccine.
Children aged 6 months through 11 years receive lower doses of vaccine compared to people ages 12 and over. A recent report from the CDC found no increased risk for myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination in children ages 6 months–5 years. In a study published by the CDC, after approximately 8 million doses of pediatric Pfizer vaccine were given to children 5-11 years of age, 11 cases of myocarditis were reported and verified. Most of these cases were mild and recovered quickly.
A study of people aged 5 and over found that the risk of heart complications, such as myocarditis, pericarditis, and multi-system inflammatory disease (MIS-C) was higher after having COVID-19 infection than after getting one or more doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. This finding was seen in males and females of all ages. It is also important to note that vaccine-associated myocarditis is milder and does not last as long as myocarditis due to other causes.
Novavax vaccine: Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported in people who received Novavax COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the 2nd dose of Novavax 8 weeks after the first may reduce the risk of these rare conditions.
It is important to note that COVID-19 disease is associated with an increased risk of stroke, acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart failure, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), and cardiac death, as well as myocarditis and pericarditis.
- Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after J&J vaccine: TTS is a rare but serious, and sometimes fatal condition involving blood clots and low platelets. TTS has been reported across a wide age range in males and females who received the J&J vaccine. Women ages 18-49 years should especially be aware of the rare but increased risk of this adverse event. To learn more, visit the CDC’s Selected Adverse Events Reported After COVID-19 Vaccination.
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) after J&J vaccine: GBS is a rare disorder where the body’s immune system damages nerve cells. This causes muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent nerve damage. GBS has been reported in people who received the J&J vaccine. There were more cases in men, especially men age 50 and older. Nearly all of the people became ill within 6 weeks of getting the vaccine. Most became ill in the first 3 weeks. To learn more, visit the CDC’s Selected Adverse Events Reported After COVID-19 Vaccination.
For more information, visit the CDC’s Selected Adverse Events Reported After COVID-19 Vaccination.
To date, over 603 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the US. Although side effects may happen, they are very rare. The benefits of staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the risks.Updated 9/16/22
No. Long-term side effects are very unlikely. Based on what we know from other vaccines, long-term side effects happen within six weeks of getting vaccinated. For this reason, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required companies making COVID-19 vaccines to follow trial participants for at least eight weeks. And the participants in the vaccine trials continue to be followed even though the vaccines have been authorized/approved for use. In addition, the CDC continues to closely monitor COVID-19 vaccines after they are authorized/approved and licensed. It has been well over a year since COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available (and even longer since the start of the vaccine trials). Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines and no long-term side effects have been identified.
In contrast, we do know that the virus that causes COVID-19 can cause several long-term effects in both adults and in children. For example, some people continue to have symptoms such as feeling very tired, having difficulty sleeping, headaches, and shortness of breath for months after their initial COVID-19 infection, often referred to as long COVID. Further, a severe condition called Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome can affect children (MIS-C) and adults (MIS-A). MIS is a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19 in which different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Many patients need to be hospitalized and, tragically, some die. COVID-19 vaccination offers protection against these “long-term” effects of the virus.Reviewed 9/16/22
If you have an adverse event (possible side effect) after you are vaccinated, even if you aren't sure that the vaccine caused it, please report it to VAERS. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System is an early warning system that the FDA and CDC use to detect possible safety problems. To make a report, call 1-800-822-7967 or visit https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.
If you have signed up for V-Safe, CDC’s after-vaccination health checker, you can also report your symptoms through the smartphone app.
Neither VAERS nor V-safe provide medical advice. If you have symptoms or health problems that concern you at any time following COVID-19 vaccination, please contact your healthcare provider or seek medical treatment.Reviewed 9/16/22
Nearly all the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines are also ingredients in many foods – fats, sugars, and salts.
- The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines contain messenger RNA (mRNA).
- The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine contains a version of a virus unrelated to the virus that causes COVID-19.
- The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine includes harmless pieces (proteins) of the virus that causes COVID-19; they are pieces of what is often called the spike protein.
These ingredients give instructions to cells in your body to create an immune response. This response helps protect you from getting sick with COVID-19 in the future. After the body produces an immune response, it discards all the vaccine ingredients just as it would discard any information that cells no longer need. This process is a part of normal body functioning.
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine also contains an ‘adjuvant” to strengthen the body’s immune response. Adjuvants are used in many vaccines.
COVID-19 vaccines do NOT contain ingredients like preservatives (like thimerosal or mercury), tissues (like aborted fetal cells or any materials from an animal), antibiotics, food proteins (like egg or nut products), medicines, latex, or metals.
No. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. None of the COVID-19 vaccines has the virus that causes COVID-19 in them. Sometimes people get a fever or feel tired for a day or two after getting a vaccine. These vaccine side effects are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. They should go away in a few days.Reviewed 9/16/22
No. Vaccines won’t cause you to test positive on a PCR or antigen viral test (swab or spit tests, including self-tests) that looks for current COVID-19 infection. You may test positive on some antibody (blood) tests. This is because the vaccines work by teaching your body to make antibodies.
See the public health testing webpage ph.lacounty.gov/covidtests to learn more about COVID-19 tests.Updated 9/16/22
- People who are allergic to things like oral medication, food (including eggs), latex, pets, or pollen, or people who have a family history of allergies, can be vaccinated.
- If you have had an allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy, even if it was not severe, talk to your doctor to decide if it is safe to get vaccinated.
- If you are allergic to Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), you should not get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Ask your doctor if you can get the J&J or Novavax vaccine.
- If you are allergic to polysorbate, you should not get the Novavax or J&J vaccine. Ask your doctor if you can get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
There is a small risk of anaphylaxis (a severe type of allergic reaction) with any vaccine.
Information about allergic reactions may change. Be sure to check the latest guidance on the CDC COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Allergies webpage and talk to your doctor.Updated 9/16/22
PREGNANCY, BREASTFEEDING, FERTILITY
Yes! The CDC and pregnancy experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives, recommend that pregnant people get vaccinated against COVID-19. For the best protection, this includes getting a booster dose as well as the primary vaccine series. The vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy.Updated 5/02/22
COVID-19 is a serious concern during pregnancy. Pregnant and recently pregnant people who get COVID-19 are more likely to become severely ill, be hospitalized, and die compared to people who are not pregnant. In addition, people who get COVID-19 during pregnancy are more likely to get complications that can affect their pregnancy and developing baby. These include preterm birth and stillbirth.
COVID-19 vaccination protects both pregnant people and their newborns from severe illness from COVID-19. In studies of people who have received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, protective antibodies against the virus were found in the umbilical cord blood and in breastmilk. In addition, a recent study confirmed that vaccination during pregnancy was effective in protecting infants under the age of 6 months from being hospitalized due to COVID-19.Posted 5/02/22
There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. The CDC continues to monitor people who have been vaccinated during all trimesters of pregnancy to better understand the effects on pregnancy and babies. Over a hundred thousand pregnant people who have been vaccinated have been monitored and no increased risk of pregnancy loss, growth problems, or birth defects has been found. COVID-19 vaccines do not cause COVID-19 infection, including in people who are pregnant or their babies. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain live virus. They cannot make anyone sick with COVID-19, including people who are pregnant or their babies.
Evidence continues to build, showing that COVID-19 vaccination before and during pregnancy is safe and effective. It suggests that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant and have questions about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor. You can also talk to experts at MotherToBaby who are available to answer questions in English or Spanish. This free and confidential service is available Monday–Friday 8am–5pm. You can call 866-626-6847, text 855.999.8525, e-mail ContactUs@mothertobaby.org or start a chat at mothertobaby.org/ask-an-expert/.Posted 5/02/22
Yes! Experts, including the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives recommend that people who are breastfeeding be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Lactating people were not included in the vaccine studies. However, based on what we know about how these vaccines work, the vaccines are not thought to be a risk for the baby. Recent studies have shown that breastfeeding people who have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which might help to protect their babies. These vaccines do not pass into breastmilk.Updated 5/02/22
Yes. The CDC and medical experts recommend vaccination for everyone aged 5 years and older. This includes people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or who may want to get pregnant in the future as well as their partners.
There is no evidence that any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in females or males. There is also no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect puberty or teenage development.
A small study of 45 healthy men who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine reviewed sperm characteristics before and after vaccination. Researchers looked at sperm quantity and movement and found no significant changes in these after vaccination. By comparison, a different study found a decrease in fertility for up to 60 days in men who were infected with COVID-19. This study of over 2,000 people also found no differences in pregnancy success rates in men and women who were vaccinated compared with those who weren’t. Many people have become pregnant after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information see the CDC webpage COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Would Like to Have a Baby.Updated 5/02/22
Some women have reported a change in their period after getting the COVID-19 vaccine such as late periods, heavier flow, and painful cramps. There is limited research on COVID-19 vaccination and the menstrual cycle. Two recent studies showed common, but minor, changes after COVID-19 vaccination. These included changes in the length of the menstrual cycle and the time between cycles as well as heavier bleeding than usual. These changes were temporary.
It is important to remember, many things can cause a change to menstrual cycles such as stress, and changes in sleep, diet, exercise, and some medicines. It is also important to note that irregular periods are very common among teens and may have no specific cause at all. If you have concerns about your period or your child’s periods, talk to a doctor.Updated 5/02/22
For Parents and Guardians
Vaccinating your child is the best way to protect them from COVID-19. It also protects against long-term health problems caused by COVID-19.
Even though COVID-19 is often mild in children, they can become very sick. So far, COVID-19 has caused or contributed to the deaths of over 1,700 children. Some children with initial mild illness get Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) a few weeks later. This is a condition where different parts of the body can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
As with adults, there are also children who get infected and suffer from post-COVID-19 conditions or “long COVID.” Children with long COVID may feel tired, get headaches, and have trouble focusing. This can last for weeks to months after getting COVID-19. A recent study showed that children who had COVID-19 are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
Additionally, children infected with COVID must isolate, which results in missed educational opportunities and creates potential economic hardships for the family.
Even healthy children with no medical conditions can be hospitalized or have long-term complications that can affect their mental and physical health and quality of life. There is no way to tell if a child will get severe COVID-19, MIS-C, or long COVID. But we do know that vaccination reduces the risk of getting these complications.Updated 9/16/22
WHICH VACCINE TO GET AND WHEN
COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for children ages 6 months of age and older. Your child can receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized or approved for their age group:
- Children ages 6 months and older can get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
- Children ages 12 and older can get a Novavax vaccine.
The dose of vaccine is based on the age of the child on the day they get their vaccine, not on their size or weight. It is the dose that is needed to create the right immune response. Children ages 12 and over get the same dose of vaccine as teens and adults.
The number of doses and the time between doses depends on which vaccine your child received, their age, and whether or not they are immunocompromised.
See ph.lacounty.gov/covidvaccineschedules for details on vaccine recommendations for children. See the FDA Fact Sheets for Recipients and Caregivers for Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax for information about each vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.Updated 9/16/22
The recommended timing for your child’s 2nd primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine depends on your child’s individual situation.
- Three weeks (Pfizer and Novavax) or 4 weeks (Moderna) after the 1st dose is recommended for children who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. It is also recommended when the fullest possible protection is needed sooner; for example, when there is a high level of spread in the community or an individual is at higher risk for severe disease.
- Eight weeks after the 1st dose may be best for some children, especially male adolescents (ages 12-17). This is because having a longer time between first and second doses may improve the effectiveness of the vaccines. Plus, it may lower the already rare risks of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart conditions).
Yes, if your child is eligible for a booster dose, they should get it. Your child’s immunity can weaken over time and getting a booster dose strengthens it. A booster dose gives your child better protection from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying.
If your child is immunocompromised, please see CDC webpage COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised.
Whether your child is eligible for a booster dose depends on their age, the type of vaccine they received, and how long it has been since their last dose.
- Children ages 12-17: An updated (bivalent) Pfizer booster is recommended at least 2 months after their last COVID-19 vaccine dose (either the final primary series dose or the last booster). This is regardless of which type of vaccine(s) they got in the past or if they already got a booster dose.
- Children ages 5-11 who received the Pfizer vaccine for their primary series: An original (monovalent) Pfizer booster dose is recommended at least 5 months after their 2nd dose.
Booster doses are not currently recommended for children ages 6 months-11 years who received the Moderna primary series. Boosters are also not recommended for children ages 6 months through 4 years who received the Pfizer primary series.
Visit the CDC interactive Find Out When to Get A Booster tool to help determine if your child can get one or more COVID-19 boosters. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.Updated 9/16/22
Yes. Your child should get vaccinated even if they already had COVID-19 because the vaccine can help to prevent them from getting COVID-19 again. Getting COVID-19 offers some protection from future illness with COVID-19, sometimes called “natural immunity.” But the level of protection someone gets from infection varies. It depends on how mild or severe their illness was, the amount of time that has passed since they had COVID-19, and their age. There is currently no test that can reliably tell if a person is protected from getting COVID-19. A recent study showed that when people who had been infected with COVID-19 in the past were then vaccinated, they developed a strong immune response and had much better protection against COVID-19 infection than people who did not get vaccinated.
If your child currently has COVID-19, wait until after they have recovered, and their isolation period is over to get vaccinated. This is so that they don’t infect healthcare workers and others when they go to get their vaccine.
You may consider waiting for 3 months after your child first got COVID-19 for them to start or continue a COVID-19 vaccine series or get a booster. This is because they are unlikely to get COVID-19 again within the first 3 months after infection. A longer time between infection and getting a vaccine may also result in a better immune response.
If your child had Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), talk with their doctor about when COVID-19 vaccination is recommended.Updated 9/16/22
SAFETY OF COVID-19 VACCINATION
Yes, it is safe for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Before recommending COVID-19 vaccination for children, clinical trials with thousands of children were done to test vaccine safety and effectiveness for this age group.
To date, millions of children and teens ages 5 through 17 years, and over one million children ages 4 years and younger, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Ongoing safety monitoring shows that COVID-19 vaccination continues to be safe for children and teens.
Side effects tend to be mild and temporary. Serious reactions after COVID-19 vaccination in children are rare and typically occur within a few days after getting a vaccine.
Myocarditis and pericarditis
Rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported after getting a Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine. Most of the cases are among males between the ages of 12 and 39 years after their second dose of vaccine. The risk of getting these rare conditions may be decreased by waiting longer (8 weeks) to get the second dose in the primary vaccine series.
A recent study from the CDC found no increased risk for myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination in children ages 6 months–5 years.
A study of people aged 5 and over found that the risk of heart complications, such as myocarditis, was higher after having COVID-19 than after getting a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. This was seen in males and females. It is also important to note that myocarditis after getting a COVID-19 vaccine is milder and does not last as long as myocarditis due to other causes. Most people with myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination improved with medicine and rest.
Seek medical help right away if your child has chest pain, shortness of breath, feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart.
Learn more on the CDC webpage Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination.
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that can happen after any vaccination. Other, less-severe allergic reactions can also happen. Call 911 if you think your child might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site. Learn more on the CDC webpage Allergic Reactions after COVID-19 Vaccination.
The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. The known risks of COVID-19 illness, including hospitalization, long-term health problems, and death, outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to the vaccine.Updated 9/16/22
Side effects after COVID-19 vaccine in children are similar to those seen in adults. Side effects in younger children are like those experienced after routine vaccines and are more common after the second dose.
Common side effects can include pain, swelling, and redness in the arm or thigh where the vaccine was given, muscle or joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, headache, irritability or crying, feeling tired, sleepiness, and loss of appetite.
These side effects may limit some daily activities but should go away in a couple of days. Not everyone will get them. Side effects are normal and a sign that the body is building immunity.Updated 9/16/22
No. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. It is not possible. None of the vaccines that are used in the US contain any form of the virus that causes COVID-19.Updated 9/16/22
Yes. Children ages 6 months and over can get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other routine childhood vaccines, such as polio, flu, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis/whooping cough). If your child gets a COVID-19 vaccine at a place that doesn’t offer other vaccines that they may need, you can go to a different location to get them at any time. There is no need to wait between vaccines.Updated 9/16/22
It depends on what the child is allergic to.
- Children who are allergic to things like oral medication, food (including eggs), latex, pets, or pollen, or who have a family history of allergies can get vaccinated. The vaccines do not contain food proteins (like egg or nut products), gelatin, latex, antibiotics, metals, or preservatives (like thimerosal or mercury). Learn more about what ingredients are and are not in each COVID-19 vaccine here.
- Talk to your doctor if your child had an allergic reaction to any vaccine or injectable therapy (even if it was not severe). The doctor will help decide if it is safe for them to get vaccinated.
- People who are allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG) should not get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. People who are allergic to polysorbate should not get the Novavax vaccine.
No, the vaccine does not cause infertility. There is no evidence that any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can cause female or male fertility problems. Plus, there is no evidence that vaccine ingredients, including mRNA, or antibodies made following COVID-19 vaccination would cause any problems with a person becoming pregnant (either now or in the future). Studies have shown no differences in pregnancy rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated women and men. The vaccines do not change a person’s DNA. There is also no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect puberty or teen development. For more information, see the CDC webpage COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Would Like to Have a Baby.Updated 9/16/22
Some people have reported a change in their period after getting the vaccine. Two recent studies showed common, but minor, changes after COVID-19 vaccination. These included a shorter time between periods, longer-lasting periods, and heavier bleeding than usual. These changes were temporary.
It is important to remember that many things can cause a change to menstrual cycles. These include stress, changes in sleep, diet, exercise, and some medicines. Irregular periods are very common in teens and may have no specific cause at all. If your child has concerns about their period, it is recommended that they talk to their doctor.Updated 9/16/22
No. Based on what we know from other vaccines, any rare side effects usually begin within six weeks of getting a vaccine. For this reason, the FDA required each COVID-19 vaccine to be studied for at least eight weeks after the final dose before they authorized them for use. Plus, the CDC continues to monitor COVID-19 vaccines after they are authorized. If a safety concern occurs, the FDA and the vaccine manufacturer work together to address it. Your child is more likely to have long-term side effects from getting COVID-19 than from getting a COVID-19 vaccine.Updated 9/16/22
If your child has an adverse reaction after being vaccinated, talk to your doctor and report the reaction to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (or VAERS). Report it even if you aren't sure that the vaccine caused it. VAERS is an early warning system that the FDA and CDC use to find possible safety problems with any vaccine. To make a report, call 1-800-822-7967 or visit https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html.
If you have a smartphone, you can help the CDC monitor the vaccines by signing up your child for v-safe. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that sends text messages to check in on your child after they have been vaccinated. Each child should be signed up separately. All v-safe text messages are sent to the parent or guardian’s smartphone.
Do not use VAERS and v-safe for medical advice. Call your doctor or seek medical help if your child has symptoms or health problems that worry you after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.Updated 9/16/22
GETTING CHILDREN VACCINATED
Vaccines are available at hundreds of locations throughout LA County. Locations include pediatricians’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, schools, special COVID-19 vaccination sites, and pop-up sites. You do not need an appointment at many locations.
In-home vaccination is also available for people who are homebound.
To learn more, visit ph.lacounty.gov/howtogetvaccinated. You can also call the Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-540-0473. It is open daily from 8am to 8:30pm and can arrange for free transportation to a vaccination site and in-home vaccination. Be sure to pick a location that offers the vaccine that is appropriate for the age of your child. Note that many pharmacies cannot vaccinate children under the age of 3.Updated 9/16/22
If your child was vaccinated in California, they will get a white vaccine record card. You can also request a digital COVID-19 Vaccination Record at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov. This is an official record. It can be downloaded to Google Pay on an Android phone or the Apple Health app on an iPhone. You can get a record for each person in your family even if you used the same email address or mobile phone number when they got vaccinated. For more information, visit the Vaccination Records webpage.Updated 6/29/22
Youth under 18 need consent from a parent/guardian or caregiver to get vaccinated. If you cannot be present, you may be allowed to give consent by phone, video, or in writing. Check the consent requirements of the place where you plan to go. If it is a location run by Public Health, you can see the requirements and download a consent form at ph.lacounty.gov/howtogetvaccinated. Click on Preparing for Your Visit or call the Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-540-0473 (8am-8:30pm daily).
Some exceptions apply. Minors ages 15 years or older who are self-sufficient (e.g., emancipated or self-sufficient minor, married, or previously married) can give their own consent. If you are a foster caregiver, relative caregiver, or Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program (STRTP) staff you can provide consent as long as the foster child agrees. If you are a foster caregiver and you do not give consent but your foster child wants to get a vaccine, they can contact their legal counsel.Updated 9/16/22
Photo ID may be required at some vaccination locations. If you are a guardian of a child in foster care and your foster child does not have a photo ID, have them contact their legal counsel. Another option is to go to a location run by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which does not require photo ID.
See above for information about consent. Check the requirements of the place you plan to go. They may be found on their webpage or in an appointment confirmation email or text. For information about the requirements at LA County Department of Public Health vaccine sites, visit ph.lacounty.gov/howtogetvaccinated - click on ‘Preparing for Your Visit’ or call the Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-540-0473 (8am-8:30pm daily).Updated 9/16/22
It’s important for young people to know the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. There is a lot of misinformation on COVID-19 and the vaccines on the internet and social media. Be sure to talk to your kids about COVID-19 and answer any questions they may have.
Let them know about the health risks if someone gets COVID-19 and how the vaccine can help protect them. Explain that the vaccine is safe and that it does not have the virus. Go over the side effects with them and let them know that side effects are normal.
Comfort them if they are nervous about getting a vaccine. Be honest and calm. Take time to explain what to expect. In simple terms, let your child know that they may feel a little pinch and it will go away very fast. Use words like “pressure” or “poke” instead of “pain” or “shot.” Even if your child can’t understand your words, your calm voice will be reassuring. Remain upbeat and relaxed before, during, and especially after shots.
If your child is afraid of needles, see the CDC webpage Needle Fears and Phobia – Find Ways to Manage.
Use the DPH resource Your Child’s COVID-19 Vaccine Booklet which is designed to help parents and caregivers prepare for and record their children’s COVID-19 vaccination.Updated 9/16/22
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be a very similar to getting routine vaccines. The tips below can help make things easier for you and your child when they get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Before your visit
- Find the right vaccine location for your child
- Check that the vaccination location is able to provide vaccines for your child’s age group. Note that many pharmacies are unable to vaccinate children under the age of 3.
- Check consent and documentation requirements. They may be found on their webpage or in an appointment confirmation email or text. For information about the requirements at LA County Department of Public Health vaccine sites, visit ph.lacounty.gov/vaccineappointment. Click on ‘Preparing for Your Visit’
- Let staff know if your child needs accommodations when you make the appointment (or when you arrive at the site if it is a location where appointments are not needed). Service animals are allowed, by law, to accompany children at COVID-19 vaccination sites. If you need information about paratransit services, free transportation to a vaccination location or in-home vaccination, visit ph.lacounty.gov/howtogetvaccinated. You can also call the DPH Vaccine Call Center 833-540-0473 open daily 8am to 8:30pm. More information is available on the CDC webpage COVID-19 Vaccination for Children and Teens with Disabilities.
- Read the information about the vaccine that was in your appointment confirmation. Write down any questions you may have.
- Learn about possible side effects and how to manage them at the Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects webpage.
- Talk to your child about what to expect. See How do I talk to my child about the COVID-19 vaccine above.
On the day of your child’s visit
- Do not give your child over the counter medicine before getting the vaccine (such as pain relievers or antihistamines) to help prevent side effects unless your child regularly takes these medicines for other reasons.
- Take your child’s COVID-19 vaccination record if they have been vaccinated before.
- Bring something that your child finds comforting, like a favorite toy, blanket, or book.
- Pack face masks. Everyone including the staff, you, and your child (if age 2 or older) must wear a mask at the vaccination site.
- Pack a snack and water. On warm days, if you are visiting an outdoor location, wear a hat and lightweight clothing.
- Get tips on how to support your child before, during, and after vaccination
- Tips to support children of all ages with routine vaccinations are available on the CDC webpage Before, During, and After Shots.
- Information for babies is on the CDC webpage Make shots less stressful for babies. These include distraction techniques, breastfeeding, or asking the doctor to use an oral sugar solution, and pain-relieving ointment or cooling spray.
- Information about how to manage needle fears are on the CDC webpage Needle Fears and Phobia.
While at your visit
- Tell the vaccine provider about any allergies your child may have.
- Ask your child to sit or lie down during vaccination. They should continue to sit or lie down for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given. This helps to prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting. See the CDC webpage for tips on How to Hold Your Child During Vaccination. This will help reduce the child’s stress and may also make it easier for healthcare professionals to give the vaccine.
- Stay for 15–30 minutes after your child’s COVID-19 vaccination. Your child should be observed in case they have a severe allergic reaction and need medical attention.
- Ask your child’s healthcare provider for advice on using a non-aspirin pain reliever. Ask about any other steps you can take at home to comfort your child.
- Make sure your child receives their COVID-19 Vaccination Record card. See the Public Health vaccination records webpage for information about the card and digital records.
- Make sure you know when your child’s next dose is due. You may wish to talk to your provider about the best time to get the second dose
- Sign up for V-safe. V-safe provides quick and confidential health check-ins via text messages and/or web surveys. You can quickly and easily share information with CDC how your child feels after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more at the V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker website and sign up at vsafe.cdc.gov.
Use the DPH resource Your Child’s COVID-19 Vaccine Booklet which is designed to help parents and caregivers prepare for and record their children’s COVID-19 vaccination.Updated 9/16/22
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