Get vaccinated – it’s safe and effective. The latest COVID-19 vaccines are here and have been updated for the 2023-2024 season. Getting vaccinated is the safest way to protect against the serious effects of COVID-19.
On this page:
- How to get vaccinated
- What’s new with vaccines
- How COVID-19 vaccines work
- Digital vaccine record
- Side effects
- Questions and answers
How to get vaccinated:
What’s new with vaccines
As of September 12, 2023, CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine protects against possible serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter. What you need to know:
- Anyone aged 6 months and older can get vaccinated.
- Most people 5 years or older should get one dose of the updated vaccine.
- Children under 5 years or younger and anyone with weakened immune systems may be eligible to receive multiple doses of the updated vaccine.
How COVID-19 vaccines work
Vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. You can still get COVID-19 after vaccination, but your symptoms are likely to be much less severe. Vaccination offers the best protection against new variants, long COVID, hospitalization, and death.
What we know
- Vaccinations can prevent most COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths.
- The updated COVID-19 vaccine provides protections against the latest variants of the virus.
- Those with weak immune systems are more likely to experience severe COVID-19 symptoms, even if vaccinated.
- The vaccine can still help you even if you have had COVID-19.
Digital vaccine record
You can now get a digital copy of your vaccination record. This is called the Digital Vaccine Record (DVR). It’s available to you if:
- You got vaccinated in California, and
- Your information matches what is recorded in the state’s immunization systems.
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. Some people have no side effects.
Mild side effects
Side effects should go away in a few days.
Common mild side effects include:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where you got the vaccination
- Feeling tired, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea
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 received the vaccine gets worse after 24 hours
- If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
Severe side effects
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.
Read more in the CDC’s Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines.
Reporting side effects of vaccines
If you have experienced a side effect after COVID-19 vaccination, you can report it to:
- VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System)
Questions and answers
Can I mix and match COVID-19 vaccines from different manufacturers?
Yes, people ages 5 years and older may mix and match COVID-19 vaccines. Some people who have been previously vaccinated may prefer the vaccine they got before, and others may prefer to get a different vaccine. Please talk to your doctor or health care provider for more information on mixing vaccines.
Do I need to be a California resident to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
No. Vaccine eligibility is based on age. Residency or immigration status does not matter and will not be checked at your vaccine appointment.
How is my privacy protected if I take the COVID-19 vaccine?
California law strictly limits how personal information can be shared. The state prevents individuals being identified in shared data.
Read more at CDPH’s California Data Use Agreement and Frequently Asked Questions.
Should I keep my COVID-19 vaccination record card?
Yes. Keep your vaccination record card in a safe place to prevent loss or damage.
The Digital Vaccine Record (DVR) portal gives you a digital copy of this record. If you’ve lost your paper card, print out your digital record. You can use it at any place where you would show your paper card. Learn more about your digital vaccine record.
How long should I wait to get the vaccine after I’ve had COVID-19?
If you tested positive, you should:
- Wait until you meet criteria to stop isolation before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Reinfection is less likely in the weeks to months after infection, and you may consider waiting up to 3 months to get the vaccine if you recently recovered from COVID-19.
If I’ve recently had a dose of the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, how long should I wait to get the updated vaccine?
People 5 years and older should wait at least two months after getting the last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine before getting the updated COVID vaccine, according to CDC guidance.
Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as another vaccine?
Yes, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit. This includes the flu shot and routine vaccinations for kids. Learn more about getting more than one kind of vaccine.
Vaccination for children
Do providers need parental consent before administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a minor?
Yes. Before vaccinating a minor, vaccine providers must get consent from a:
- Legal guardian, or
- Other adults having legal custody.
There are some exceptions:
- Emancipated minors do not need the consent of a parent or guardian to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Providers may accept written consent. It must be from the parent or legal guardian of an unaccompanied minor. This consent must verify the parent/guardian has received the Fact Sheet for the specific vaccine to be given.
- Phone or video consent is acceptable. The parent/guardian must confirm that they received the Fact Sheet for the vaccine to be given. Reading the fact sheet to the parent/guardian is an option.
Why should I vaccinate my child?
Vaccinations protect children from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19. These can include Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome-Children (MIS-C), hospitalization, and death.
My child has had reactions to other vaccines. Should they still get the vaccine?
Yes, unless they have had life-threatening allergic reactions to components of COVID-19 vaccines. Allergic reactions to these vaccines are rare. Talk to your child’s doctor before vaccination if they’ve had:
- Severe allergies
- Flu vaccination reactions
Can children who have pre-existing conditions like asthma get vaccinated?
Yes. Children can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if they have pre-existing health conditions. Talk to your doctor or clinic about your child’s specific conditions before scheduling their vaccines.
If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. The CDC strongly recommends that you get vaccinated if:
- You’re pregnant,
- You could be pregnant, or
- You’re breastfeeding.
If you get COVID-19 while you are pregnant, you are more likely to get severely ill. You also increase your risk of pregnancy complications and premature birth. The vaccines are safe and beneficial for you and your baby.
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
For more information, read:
- CDPH: COVID-19 Vaccines
- CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines
- CDC: COVID-19 Vaccination Clinical & Professional Resources
- CDPH Vaccine Toolkit: Fight the Flu & COVID-19 (ca.gov)