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:

My Turn

Check myturn.ca.gov or call 1-833-422-4255 to book an appointment or find a walk-in site near you. Third or booster shots are available for those eligible.

Vaccines.gov

Use the CDC’s Vaccines.gov to book an appointment or find a walk-in site near you.

You can also check with your healthcare provider or local pharmacy.


Who can get vaccinated

Any Californian aged 12 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

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is authorized by the FDA for kids aged 12 and up. It was found to be safe and effective in protecting children as young as 12 in clinical trials.


How COVID-19 vaccines work

Illustration of a women getting a bandage on her arm after vaccination

Vaccines are highly effective against severe COVID-19. No fully-vaccinated person died due to COVID-19 during clinical trials of the three authorized vaccines.

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.


Side effects

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

Blood clots

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:

  • VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System)
  • V-safe (After Vaccination Health Checker)

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

Booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine are now recommended if you:

  • Got a Pfizer vaccination at least six months ago, and
  • Are 65 or older, or
  • Are a long-term care resident that is 18 or older, or
  • Are 50-64 and have an underlying medical condition, or
  • Are 50-64 and at increased risk due to social inequity (including that of communities of color)

You may also consider getting a booster if you:

  • Are 18-49 and have an underlying medical condition or are at increased risk due to social inequity, or
  • Are 18-64 and work or live in a high-risk setting (like a shelter)
    • The CDC defines high-risk jobs as:
      • First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
      • Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
      • Food and agriculture workers
      • Manufacturing workers
      • Corrections workers
      • U.S. Postal Service workers
      • Public transit workers
      • Grocery store workers

To book your booster shot, visit My Turn.

Read more about Pfizer booster shots and booster questions and answers from CDPH.

We’re ensuring that there are enough vaccines for those who will need a booster shot, and anyone else not yet vaccinated. See the COVID-19 Vaccine Action Plan.

Additional doses

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.

See questions and answers about additional doses.


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:

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.


Vaccine rumors  

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 rumors@cdph.ca.gov.

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.

Map of California with text Vaccinate ALL 58 - Together we can end the pandemic.

Questions and answers

Getting vaccinated

How many COVID-19 vaccine doses do I need, and how far apart should I get them?

Ideally, you’d get:

  • Two doses for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 21 days apart
  • Two doses for the Moderna vaccine, 28 days apart 
  • Just one dose of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine

If two shots are needed, get your second shot as close to the recommended interval as possible. If you can’t get it at the recommended interval, you can get your second dose up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. We have limited data on how well these vaccines work beyond this window. But if you get the second dose after 42 days, there is no need to start over.

You can get a booster (third) dose of the Pfizer vaccine if you are:

  • 65 or older
  • Living in long-term care and are 18-64, or
  • At risk because of your job (example: healthcare workers) and are 18 -64.

Third doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are available for those 18 and older with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. Read Booster shots and additional doses to see if you are eligible.

Can I mix and match COVID-19 vaccines from different manufacturers?

No, you can’t mix and match different vaccines. Be sure to get the same vaccine the second time that you got the first time. COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other. The safety and effectiveness of mixing vaccines has not been tested.

How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost? 

Nothing. COVID-19 vaccines and their administration are free to the public.

Read more at the Department of Managed Health Care’s Know Your Health Care Rights.

Do I need to be a California resident to get COVID-19 vaccine?

No. Vaccine eligibility is based on age. Residency or immigration status does not matter.

How do I cancel or reschedule my vaccine appointment through My Turn?

If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, you can do so on the Manage your appointments page.

You will be asked to confirm your appointment with:

  • Your appointment confirmation number, and 
  • Either your cell phone number or your email address.

I’ve already had COVID-19. Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. We do not know how long immunity lasts after recovering from COVID-19.

Can I get vaccinated against COVID-19 while I am currently sick with COVID-19?

No. Wait until you have recovered and have met the criteria for ending isolation. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 between their first and second dose.

Will COVID-19 vaccine sites be accessible?

Yes. All vaccine clinics in California are required to meet ADA requirements.

How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine at home if I am unable to travel to a vaccine site?

Check with your healthcare provider, local health department, or local pharmacy. 

If you cannot leave your home, you can state this when booking on myturn.ca.gov or when calling 1-833-422-4255. If eligible, your local health jurisdiction will arrange for your in-home vaccination.

How do I get transportation to a vaccine site?

If you do not have a way to get to a vaccination site, you can receive free transportation through:

Transportation options include:

  • Car transportation for ambulatory patients
  • Non-emergency medical transportation for non-ambulatory patients, including 
    • Wheelchair vans
    • Gurney transportation, and other options. 

You can also check with your healthcare provider, local health department, or local pharmacy.

If you have Medi-Cal managed care, you can get transportation through your health plan or provider. Contact your plan’s member service department to ask for transportation.

If you get Medi-Cal through Fee-for-Service (FFS), you can access a list of transportation providers in your county. Contact them directly to arrange transportation to your appointments. 

If there is not a provider in your area, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) can assist. Email them at DHCSNMT@dhcs.ca.gov. Do NOT include personal information in your first email. DHCS staff will reply with a secure email asking for more information. 

If you need non-emergency medical transportation, please inform your medical provider. They can prescribe this service and put you in touch with a transportation service.

What to expect after vaccination

Will I need a booster vaccination?

Booster doses are currently recommended if you:

  • Got a Pfizer vaccination at least six months ago, and
  • Are 65 or older, or
  • Are a long-term care resident that is 18 or older, or
  • Are 50-64 and have an underlying medical condition, or
  • Are 50-64 and at increased risk due to social inequity (including that of communities of color)

You may also consider getting a booster if you:

  • Are 18-49 and have an underlying medical condition or are at increased risk due to social inequity, or
  • Are 18-64 and work or live in a high-risk setting (like a shelter)
    • The CDC defines high-risk jobs as:
      • First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
      • Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
      • Food and agriculture workers
      • Manufacturing workers
      • Corrections workers
      • U.S. Postal Service workers
      • Public transit workers
      • Grocery store workers

Californians can schedule their booster shot at My Turn.

Additional doses of Pfizer or Moderna are recommended for people with compromised immune systems, specifically those 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 third dose at My Turn.

See questions and answers about additional doses.

What is acceptable as proof of full vaccination?

The following are accepted: 

  • Original DHHS CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card, which includes:
    • Name of person vaccinated
    • Date of birth 
    • Type of vaccine provided
    • Lot number
    • Date last dose administered
    • Site where administered
  • A photo or paper copy of your DHHS CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card
  • A photo of your vaccination record card stored on a phone or other electronic device
  • Paper or digital documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider or other issuer.
  • A Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record (DCVR). 

Read CDPH’s Vaccine Record Guidelines & Standards for complete details.

What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”?

People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19:

  • Two weeks after they receive the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna), or
  • Two weeks after they receive a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson/Janssen).

See CDPH’s COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People for details.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me test positive for COVID-19?

No. A vaccine will not cause you to test positive on viral tests.

If your body develops an immune response, you may test positive on antibody tests. This shows that you may have protection against the virus.

How is my privacy protected if I take the COVID-19 vaccine?

California law strictly limits how personal information about those who are vaccinated can be shared. California negotiated with the federal government to limit the required data sharing to only information that will not allow an individual to be identified.

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 COVID-19 Vaccine Record (DCVR) 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.

Read CDPH’s Vaccine Record Guidelines & Standards for complete details.

If I get a booster shot or additional dose, will it show on my digital vaccine record?

Booster shots or additional doses will not automatically show on your digital vaccine record. You will need to go to the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record portal to get a new QR code.

We recommend waiting 14 days for your new dose to show up in the California Immunization Registry before you try to get a new QR code.

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:

  • Parent, 
  • 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 from a parent or legal guardian of an unaccompanied minor. This consent must verify the parent/guardian has received the Pfizer EUA Fact Sheet.
  • Phone or video consent is acceptable. The parent/guardian must confirm that they received the Pfizer EUA Fact Sheet. Reading the fact sheet to the parent/guardian is an option.

Families should check with their vaccine provider on acceptable forms of consent. See CDPH’s Pfizer Vaccine Minor Consent Guidance for more details.

Why should I vaccinate my child?

Cases in children are increasing. It is important to get young people vaccinated to prevent more hospitalizations and deaths.

Vaccinations may stop the spread of coronavirus variants. They can also shrink the pool of people vulnerable to COVID-19. By getting children 12 and up vaccinated, families can be safer as we get back to doing the things we love.

My child has had reactions to other vaccines. Should they still get the vaccine?

Yes, unless they have had anaphylactic-type reactions to components of the Pfizer vaccine. Allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are rare. If your child has severe allergies or flu vaccine reactions, talk to their doctor before getting them vaccinated.   

Is there an increased vaccination risk to children who have pre-existing conditions like asthma?

Youth aged 12 and up can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if they have health conditions. Talk to your doctor or clinic about your child’s specific conditions.

Will my child have to get vaccinated before returning to in-person schooling?

No. Vaccination isn’t currently required to return to in-person learning. But the state’s goal is to get as many of our 2.1 million 12- to 15-year-olds vaccinated before the new fall term. Vaccination will protect young people against more-contagious coronavirus variants and COVID-19.

Why is the vaccine only for adolescents 12 and over? When will vaccines be available for younger children?

Vaccine trials begin with older, more vulnerable populations, then extend to younger ages. Adolescents were the next group prioritized because they are most like adults. Also, they are more likely than younger kids to spread the virus and become seriously ill. This approach balances the need for safety and speed, while protecting our children.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have ongoing clinical trials in kids younger than 12. If all goes well, authorization for this next age group could happen later this year. Johnson & Johnson is currently in clinical trials for the 12-17 age group.

Vaccinations for employees

I’m an employer and want to help my employees get vaccinated. How do I do that?

The Employer Vaccination Toolkit provides all the information you need to:

  • Partner with local providers for offsite vaccination events
  • Request a worksite mobile clinic
  • Help employees find and book vaccination appointments
  • Share and promote resources that support employees in getting vaccinated

Can an employer require COVID-19 vaccination for all employees entering a workplace?

Yes, if certain requirements are met. Under the ADA, an employer may insist all employees to meet a standard that is job-related and consistent with business necessity. This could include a safety-related standard requiring COVID-19 vaccination.  

But if an employee cannot meet such a standard because of a disability, the employer may not require that they comply. The exception to that is if the employee’s non-compliance poses a threat to their health or safety or that of others in the workplace.

For more details, read What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.

Are people with certain jobs required to be vaccinated?

Yes. In California these include healthcare workers, those who work in congregate settings, state employees, care workers, and K-12 teachers and school staff.

Healthcare workers and workers in congregate settings (like homeless shelters and correctional facilities) must be fully vaccinated. Exceptions can only be made for those with:

  • Conflicting religious beliefs, or
  • Qualified medical reasons. 

If they are not fully vaccinated, they are required to get tested for COVID-19 regularly and wear masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE) at work. Read more in: 

California state employees must also be fully vaccinated or be regularly tested for COVID-19. See details at CalHR’s Vaccine Verification and Testing Requirements.

K-12 teachers and school employees in California must verify that they are fully vaccinated, or be tested weekly for COVID-19.

Workers in adult and senior care facilities and in-home care workers must be fully vaccinated by November 30, 2021. For details and exceptions, see the September 28 public health order.

Vaccine limitations

If I get a COVID-19 vaccine, will I still need a flu shot this fall?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccine does not provide protection against flu.

Are there certain populations who should not get a COVID-19 vaccine? What about people with allergies?

The CDC recommends that:

  • If you have had a severe or immediate reaction to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, do not get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Ask your doctor if you can get the Janssen vaccine.
  • If you have had a severe or immediate reaction to any ingredient in the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, do not get the Janssen vaccine. Ask your doctor if you can get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
  • If you had an immediate allergic reaction after getting the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, do not get the second dose.  
  • If you are allergic to PEG, you should not get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Ask your doctor if you can get the Janssen vaccine.
  • If you are allergic to polysorbate, you should not get the Janssen vaccine. Ask your doctor if you can get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

People with underlying medical conditions can get vaccinated, as long as they are not allergic to vaccine ingredients. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people with underlying medical conditions.

To learn about the ingredients in authorized COVID-19 vaccines, see

If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The CDC states that pregnant and lactating individuals can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Experts have no vaccination safety concerns for pregnant or lactating women or their babies. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus, so they cannot cause COVID-19.

Pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 than those who are not pregnant. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy can protect you from severe illness. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information, read:

How long should I wait to get the vaccine after I’ve had COVID-19?

The CDC recommends:

  • If you tested positive, had only mild symptoms, and were not treated for the coronavirus, you should:
    • Wait at least 10 days after the start of COVID-19 symptoms, and 
    • Meet criteria to stop isolation before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Wait 90 days to get the vaccine if:
    • You recovered from a COVID-19 infection, and 
    • Were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma.

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 (like for the flu) at the same visit. You no longer need to wait 14 days between different vaccinations. Learn more about getting more than one kind of vaccine.

Vaccine choices

Will I have a choice between the various COVID-19 vaccines?

Yes. Both My Turn and VaccineFinder allow you to search for vaccines by manufacturer.

Read CDPH’s Choosing the COVID-19 Vaccine That is Right for You.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines FDA-approved?

One is. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, now named Comirnaty, has full FDA approval for use in anyone aged 16 and up. 

The FDA can allow using vaccines before full approval. This is called an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). It lets us respond quickly to emergency situations like a pandemic. EUAs still involve rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness.

The Pfizer vaccine has an EUA for use in children aged 12 to 15. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have EUAs for use in anyone aged 18 and up.

If you’ve been waiting for full FDA approval of a vaccine before getting vaccinated, the wait is over. Visit My Turn and book your Pfizer vaccination today.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines mandatory? 

No. Neither the state or federal government requires you to get vaccinated. We hope Californians will opt for vaccination once they see how safe and effective it is.

Do I need to be vaccinated to visit a healthcare facility?

Yes. Visitors to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities must show proof that they are fully vaccinated. If they are not fully vaccinated, they may only visit if they show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours.

All visitors, no matter their vaccination status, must wear masks and appropriate PPE and keep social distance during their visit. Read more in CDPH’s Requirements for Visitors in Acute Health Care and Long-Term Care Settings.

How can I convince my family and friends to take a COVID-19 vaccine?

Talking with family and friends about the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine can be hard. Try to listen without judgement and identify the root of their concerns. Things to remember to help open the discussion include:

  • Listen to questions with empathy
  • Ask open-ended questions to explore concerns
  • Ask permission to share information
  • Help them find their own reason to get vaccinated
  • Help make their vaccination happen

Read the CDC’s How to talk about COVID-19 vaccines with friends and family.


Stay informed