COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, specifically SARS-CoV-2. It is very contagious and can spread very quickly.
COVID-19 most often causes respiratory illness that can feel much like a cold, a flu, or pneumonia. It can cause mild symptoms or more severe illness in some people. A number of diseases make a person more likely to have severe symptoms of COVID-19. This list of high-risk diseases comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Protect yourself against COVID-19. Be up to date with your vaccines!
You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine if you have gotten your primary series of COVID-19 shots and a bivalent booster (the updated booster).
You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine if you have received the updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The updated vaccines are called “updated” because they protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5. The updated vaccines are also called bivalent vaccines.
Two COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, have developed updated COVID-19 vaccines.
If you are someone aged 65+ or immunocompromised*, who has never previously received a COVID -19 vaccine:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you receive the updated Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
If you are someone aged 65+ and not immunocompromised, who has already received the updated Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine:
- You and your clinician may decide a second Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine shot is needed. CDC recommends that you wait 4 months from your last shot to receive this second shot of the updated Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
If you are an adult of any age and immunocompromised, who has already received the updated Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine:
- You and your clinician may decide a second Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine shot is needed. CDC recommends that you wait 2 months from your last shot to receive this second shot of the updated Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
If you are someone aged 65+ who already has received the original** COVID-19 primary series or an original vaccine booster but not an updated vaccine:
- CDC recommends that you wait 4 months from your last shot to receive a single shot of the updated Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
*A person is immunocompromised when their immune system is weak. These people may have more trouble fighting COVID-19 and are at higher risk of getting seriously sick or dying from COVID-19. You may have a weak immune system if you have cancer, diabetes, or heart conditions, for example. These are just a few of the diseases that can make your immune system weak. Please check with your healthcare provider to see if you have a medical problem that makes your immune system weak.
** Previous COVID-19 vaccines are called “original” because they were designed to protect against the original virus that causes COVID-19.
Older adults who are unable or choose NOT to get an updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 bivalent vaccine can consider Novavax to get up to date:
|1st Dose||2nd Dose||3rd dose|
|1 shot||2nd shot, 3 weeks after first shot||
1 shot updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna
A Novavax booster is available in limited situations when you are unable or unwilling to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna updated COVID-19 booster.
Getting the Vaccine
The vaccine is available at no cost to you:
- If you have Medicare, you will not have to pay to get vaccinated.
- Medicaid and private health insurance plans cover all vaccine costs.
- If you are uninsured, you can get free vaccines.
Vaccines are available at many locations:
- Most drug stores
- Community health centers
- State or local health departments
Find a COVID-19 vaccine location near you:
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider
- Call 1-800-232-0233
- Text your zip code to 438829 or visit vaccines.gov
Other Ways to Protect Yourself
- Wear a high-quality mask or respirator. People may choose to mask at any time. Masks are recommended in indoor public transportation settings and may be required in other places by local or state authorities.
- Increase your distance. The closer you are to a greater number of people increases your exposure to COVID-19. Keeping your distance or avoiding crowds can lower that risk.
Last Updated May 2023
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