Get vaccinated – it’s safe, effective, and free. Vaccination is the most important tool to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
On this page:
- How to get vaccinated
- Who can get vaccinated
- How COVID-19 vaccines work
- Side effects
- Booster shots and additional doses
- Digital vaccine record
- Vaccine rumors
- Spread vaccine awareness
- Questions and answers
How to get vaccinated:
You can also check with your healthcare provider or local pharmacy.
Who can get vaccinated
Any Californian aged 5 and up can get vaccinated, for free.
Your insurance or immigration status does not matter. No one will ask about your immigration status when you get vaccinated.
Vaccinations for kids
Both were found to be safe and effective in protecting children from COVID-19 in clinical trials.
How COVID-19 vaccines work
COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. It takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity against the virus. That means it is possible you could still get COVID-19 just after vaccination.
What we know
- Vaccinations can prevent nearly all COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths. Post-vaccination cases are extremely rare.
- Vaccinations reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- COVID-19 vaccines are effective against variants of the virus currently circulating in the United States, including the Delta variant.
- People with weakened immune systems, including those who take immunosuppressive medications, may not be protected even if fully vaccinated.
What we’re still learning
- How long COVID-19 vaccine protection lasts.
Once you’re vaccinated
When you’re fully vaccinated, you can return to activities you did before the pandemic. But stay aware of public health recommendations that still apply to you.
Read CDPH’s Get the Facts on Vaccines.
After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some mild side effects. These are normal signs that your body is building immunity. More serious side effects rarely happen.
Mild side effects
Common mild side effects include:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where you got the shot
- Feeling tired, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea
Side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects.
Rare but serious side effects
Rarely, women under 50 who get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have a risk of blood clots with low platelets. This risk is not seen in other COVID-19 vaccines. Read CDPH’s Fact Sheet: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Benefits and Risks.
Myocarditis and pericarditis
Some young people have developed inflammation of heart muscle or membrane after getting a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Despite this, the CDC believes that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the risks. Read more in these CDPH fact sheets:
Reporting side effects of vaccines
If you have experienced a side effect after COVID-19 vaccination, you can report it to:
When to call the doctor
In most cases, discomfort from pain or fever is a normal sign that your body is building protection. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider if:
- The redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours
- Your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you have a severe reaction, seek immediate medical care by calling 911. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and rare severe allergic reactions.
Booster shots and additional doses
Booster shots are now available for everyone 18 and older.
Get a booster shot as soon as you’re eligible:
- If you got a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, get a booster shot after 6 months
- If you got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, get a booster shot after 2 months
Your booster shot can be a different vaccine brand than you received before, as long as you completed your original vaccination series (one dose of Johnson & Johnson or two doses of Pfizer or Moderna).
To book your booster shot or find a walk-in clinic, visit My Turn.
Additional doses of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are now available for those with moderately to severely compromised immune systems.
This includes people who:
- Get active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Got an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Got a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Have advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Get active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress immune response
Talk to your doctor to see if getting an additional dose is right for you. If you meet these criteria, you can book your shot at My Turn.
Digital vaccine record
You can now get a digital copy of your vaccination record. This is called the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record (DCVR). It’s available to you if:
- You got vaccinated in California, and
- Your information matches what is recorded in the state’s immunization systems.
To get your vaccine record:
- Go to myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov
- Enter your:
- Date of birth
- Email or phone number you gave when vaccinated
- Create a four-digit PIN
This digital copy can be used as proof of vaccination.
See Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about your digital vaccine record.
If you have trouble getting your record
If you couldn’t get your vaccine record, you may need to correct or add some information. Follow the troubleshooting tips at cdph.ca.gov/covidvaccinerecord.
What might prevent you from getting your COVID-19 vaccination record:
- Your vaccination site does not report to the state’s immunization systems
- Your vaccination site didn’t report your vaccination
- The information you entered doesn’t match your record in the registry
To correct or update your vaccine record, start an online chat with My Turn’s Virtual Assistant.
Read CDPH’s Vaccine Record Guidelines & Standards for more information.
California is making sure that the public has accurate information on COVID-19 vaccination.
If you hear vaccine-related rumors online or in your community, share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CDPH reviews all emails to this address to better understand vaccine information gaps. They may contact you for more details.
Spread vaccine awareness
Urge your friends and family to get vaccinated. Find the words at Vaccinate ALL 58, our state’s awareness campaign website.
Share on social media that vaccination against COVID-19 is safe, available, and free. Visit the COVID-19 Response Toolkit page to find images and videos you can post.
Questions and answers
What to expect after vaccination
Vaccination for children
Vaccinations for employees
- CDPH: COVID-19 Vaccine Action Plan
- CDPH: COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Vaccines
- CDPH: California COVID-19 Vaccination Program
- CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines
- CDC: Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines
- CDC: COVID-19 Vaccination
- CDC: When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated
- CDC: Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine