As of June 20, 2022: Everyone 6 months and older in Oregon is now eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine Find out what this means for parents and families.

Get vaccine answers

Find answers to your vaccine questions

If you have questions about a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s important to get your questions answered. Here you can find answers about safety, how the vaccine works, and when and where to get the vaccine.

Safe & effective

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines that are being given in Oregon are safe. The vaccines have been tested with thousands of people around the world. Black, Indigenous, Latino/a, Asian American, Pacific Islander and people of color have chosen to be part of these research studies to make sure the vaccines are safe for their communities. These tests have shown that all of the vaccines are safe, and they work to protect people from getting very sick with COVID-19.

How do the vaccines work?

Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine teaches your body to fight the virus and protect you from getting sick. The vaccine is given as a shot to the upper arm. For some kinds of the vaccine, you will need to get more than one shot. Your second shot will be 3 or 4 weeks after your first. If you get this type of vaccine, it is important for you to get both shots for the vaccine to work.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

What is the difference between the COVID-19 vaccines that are available?

Several manufacturers have produced safe and effective FDA-authorized vaccines. All of the vaccines have been and continue to be tested for safety, and all of them are proven to be very effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalizations.

None of the vaccines contain the live COVID-19 virus, so you can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccines.

More information about the different vaccines is available on the CDC website in English, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and Simplified Chinese.

Learn more from the Oregon Health Authority

Should I get a vaccine booster?

The CDC recommends everyone age 5 and older get a booster dose, including people who are immunocompromised and received an additional dose. The vaccines are widely available and health experts strongly recommend:

  • Everyone 5 and older who received the Pfizer vaccine should get a booster dose five months after their second dose.

  • People 50 and older who received the Pfizer vaccine should get a second booster dose four months after their first booster.

  • People 18 and older who received the Moderna vaccine should get a booster dose five months after their second dose.

  • People 50 and older who received the Moderna vaccine should get a second booster dose four months after their first booster.

  • People 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster dose two months after their first dose. (An mRNA vaccine – Pfizer or Moderna – is preferred in most cases*.)

  • People 50 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a second booster dose four months after their first booster. The second booster must be an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).

  • People who are immunocompromised should get their booster at least three months after their last dose, and talk to their health care provider about their medical condition and review additional dose and booster recommendations from the Oregon Health Authority or the CDC.

*Although mRNA vaccines are preferred for the first booster, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may be considered in some situations.

Anyone 18 and older can choose between Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines as your booster dose. Your booster vaccine doesn’t have to be the same as your first vaccine, but Pfizer or Moderna are preferred.

Looking for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster? Find vaccine locations and learn more from the Oregon Health Authority.

Free for everyone

Who is eligible for which vaccine?

Adults ages 18 or older:

  • Pfizer

  • Moderna

  • Johnson & Johnson

Children and teens ages 6 months–17 years:

  • Pfizer

Children 6 months–5 years:

  • Pfizer

  • Moderna

I’m pregnant or may become pregnant. Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccines are safe even if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines will cause problems with pregnancy or the ability to become pregnant. Consult with your doctor if you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy.

If you are pregnant, have recently given birth or might become pregnant in the future, COVID-19 vaccines help prevent serious illness, death and complications during pregnancy.

Do I have to pay for the vaccine?

No, the vaccine is free for everyone, even if you don’t have health insurance.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get the vaccine?

Everyone can get the COVID-19 vaccine, no matter your immigration status. You may be asked for information such as your name and phone number when you get the vaccine, but that information is private and won’t be shared with anyone. It is important for everyone who lives in Oregon to get the vaccine.

What to expect

Are there any side effects?

After getting the vaccine, you might experience some common side effects, like a fever, a sore arm or fatigue. This is normal and means the vaccine is working and strengthening your immune response to be able to fight off the virus. Side effects should go away in a few days. Apply a cold pack, drink plenty of water and get lots of rest. Over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil and Tylenol can also help.

Side effects and what to do:

  • Sore arm: Apply an ice pack

  • Tiredness: Rest when needed

  • Headache, fever, chills: Rest, take a pain reliever. If fever is 102° or higher, call a doctor.

  • Muscle aches, soreness: Take a pain reliever. Apply heat or ice pack.

  • Trouble breathing: Call 911

What happens after I get the vaccine?

Even after you get the vaccine, you may still be able to spread COVID-19. So, keep following safety steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Wear a mask or face covering where required or recommended

  • Stay away from others if you’re sick

  • Wash your hands often

  • Try to stay 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with

  • Avoid crowds

  • Keep gatherings small and outdoors when possible

  • When indoors, increase fresh air by opening a window or running a fan

What is “herd immunity?”

You may hear people talk about “community immunity” or “herd immunity.” When you get the COVID-19 vaccine, your body learns how to fight the virus. This is called “immunity.” Community immunity happens when enough people have gotten the vaccine to stop the spread of the virus, protecting the whole community. Until then, it’s still safest to follow mask guidelines where required or recommended to keep groups small even after you get the vaccine, to help protect the entire community.

What are variants?

Over time, all viruses mutate and change, sometimes creating stronger, more harmful versions of themselves. Other times they become less harmful, but perhaps more contagious. Whatever the mutations look like, they are called “variants” of the virus. Delta and Omicron are examples of COVID-19 variants that have spread across the globe.

Scientists are always on the lookout for new COVID-19 variants. They use a process called genetic sequencing to identify them, either from positive COVID-19 test samples or from wastewater samples taken from dozens of wastewater treatment plants across Oregon. Wastewater monitoring is especially effective at identifying variants because it doesn’t rely on people having symptoms or positive COVID-19 test results. It only relies on the contents of our wastewater, and we know that COVID-19 virus particles live in our feces and urine. Wastewater monitoring also tells us where variants are circulating within the state.

By tracking variants in these ways, public health experts can learn and provide the following information for each variant:

  • Level of contagiousness

  • Severity of COVID-19 illness it can cause

  • Vaccine and booster effectiveness

  • Effectiveness of COVID-19 treatments

For data about COVID-19 variants circulating in Oregon, check out Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 variant dashboard, updated weekly. To learn about variants nationwide, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which includes a regularly updated variant data tracker.

Vaccines and boosters remain our best protection against COVID-19 infection, spread and severe illness. Additional precautions such as wearing masks around others and social distancing may be appropriate in some situations.