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
- Vaccines and variants
- Booster shots and additional doses
- Digital vaccine record
- Side effects
- 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 are safe and effective in protecting children from COVID-19.
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 after vaccination.
What we know
- Vaccinations can prevent nearly all COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths. Post-vaccination cases are rare, but happen.
- Vaccinations reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- COVID-19 vaccines are effective against many variants of the virus, including Delta.
- People with weakened immune systems 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 more from CDPH:
Vaccines and variants
Vaccination has proven very effective against COVID-19 variants like Delta. We don’t yet know how effective it will be against emerging variants like Omicron.
The best thing we can do to limit virus spread and mutation is to:
- Get vaccinated
- Get your booster if you’re eligible
More info about COVID-19 variants from CDPH:
Booster shots and additional doses
Booster shots are now available for everyone 12 and older.
Get a booster shot as soon as you’re eligible:
- If you got a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, get a booster shot after 5 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 got in your original series. A Pfizer or Moderna booster is strongly advised for those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Those aged 12-17 can only get a Pfizer booster.
To book your booster shot or find a walk-in clinic, visit My Turn.
See why the CDC urges you to stay up to date with your vaccines.
Additional doses of Pfizer or Moderna are available for those with compromised immunity.
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
Children aged 5-11 with these conditions can get an additional dose of Pfizer.
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.
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 Pfizer or Moderna. Despite this, the CDC says 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.
Read more in the CDC’s Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine.