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How to get your COVID-19 vaccine, and why now

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This page is reviewed regularly. Last updated on January 12, 2022.

The Omicron and Delta variants are responsible for an increase in infections nationwide. It is likely that they spread more quickly than earlier strains. In many states, hospitalizations are at their highest rate since the beginning of the pandemic. Many ICUs are at full capacity.

Almost all of the people sick enough to need a hospital are unvaccinated.

It is more important than ever to get your vaccine. While some vaccinated people are getting sick, their symptoms have typically been more mild. Vaccines prevent serious illness and death, slow the spread of the virus throughout the community, and help protect children too young to receive the shot.

Keep yourself and your family safe and healthy by getting vaccinated as soon as possible. It is free, regardless of whether you have insurance.

Where to Get Your Vaccine Shot (It’s Free!)

It’s easier than ever to get the COVID-19 vaccine. There are plenty of doses available, and a large network of pharmacies now offers shots in every state.

Visit to find a location near you with doses in stock ( en Español). Your local pharmacy chain, like Walgreens, Walmart or CVS, will also offer easy access.

Health insurance companies are required to cover the cost of the vaccine—you may be asked for your insurance information when you book your appointment. If you don’t have insurance, you will not have to pay at all. The federal government will cover the cost. Congress allotted more than $8 billion for this purpose.

While many pharmacies have walk-up vaccine appointments, the easiest way to be sure you can get your shot is to schedule ahead of time.

Many state and local health departments now have mass vaccination or pop-up sites that don’t require appointments or registration. To find the locations and hours of these sites, check out the Babylon vaccine page to see how your state is providing the vaccine and where.

You do not need a driver’s license to receive a shot, but you are encouraged to bring some form of ID. This is so that vaccinators can be reimbursed for your dose of the vaccine.

If you are having trouble making an appointment online, you can always call the National Vaccine Hotline at 1-800-232-0233.

Vaccine Options

  • Adults and children 12 years and older can receive Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID vaccine, which requires 2 doses, 3 weeks apart.
  • Children 5 to 11 years old can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine, which requires 2 doses, 3 weeks apart.
  • Adults 18 years and older can receive Moderna’s COVID vaccine, which requires 2 doses, 4 weeks apart.

The CDC has expressed their preference for people to get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) over the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine at this time. But those who are unable or unwilling to get an mRNA vaccine will still have access to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.2

  • Adults 18 years and older can receive the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine, which requires only 1 dose.

Vaccine Booster Dose

The CDC is now encouraging everyone 12 years and older to get a booster shot. Those who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, are eligible to receive a booster dose at least five months after their second dose.1

    Booster shots are also recommended for those 18 years and older who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago.

    If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received a Pfizer-BioNTech (ages 5 and older) or Moderna (ages 18 and older) COVID-19 vaccine primary series, you should get an additional primary dose of the same vaccine at least 28 days after the second dose. Those aged 18 years and older can choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. 12 and 17 year olds should get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a booster dose.

    What to Expect

    When you arrive at the vaccination site, you will check in and give your name, date of birth, and you may be asked for any insurance cards you have. If you do not have insurance, you can still get the shot for free.

    Some people experience side effects after their shot, generally lasting less than 72 hours. Your vaccination site will have an information sheet for you to take home with the details of these normal side effects.

    After you receive your vaccine, you will be asked to wait for ten to fifteen minutes to make sure you feel well.

    You will receive a paper card as proof of your vaccination. When you return for additional doses of the vaccine, be sure to bring this card with you. You may be asked to show your vaccine card to access certain public spaces and private businesses in the future, so keep it in a safe place and make a copy just in case.

    Many apps make it possible to carry a secure digital copy of your vaccination record on your smartphone. Confirming vaccination status may continue to play a role in our lives, so it’s important to find an easy way to share your information and keep it up to date.


    1. CDC: Everyone Ages 16 and Older Can Get a Booster Shot
    2. CDC Endorses ACIP’s Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations

      The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.