Learn important information you need to know about the booster shot, vaccine for children, vaccine requirement for international travelers to the USA, vaccine requirement for immigration purposes, who can get vaccinated, where to get vaccinated, vaccine safety, side effects, myths and facts about the vaccine, types of vaccines available, if there is any cost to the vaccine, vaccines available to undocumented immigrants, and what to do with your vaccine card.
All air passengers two years or older (including U.S. Citizens, U.S. permanent residents, visitors, tourists, and others) coming to the U.S. from another country must present a negative COVID-19 viral test; or documents that show you have recovered from COVID-19.
All non-U.S. citizens who aren’t fully vaccinated won’t be allowed to enter the United States.
Non-U.S. travelers arriving by land must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination at the port of entry and indicate the reason for traveling and their vaccination status. Learn more here.
There are limited exceptions to these requirements; please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for specific information on test requirements.
On November 8, 2021, the U.S. government lifted travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers, allowing travelers from foreign countries to visit the United States.
All applicants who need to get a medical examination for an immigration application must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
If you are eligible for the vaccine, you need to complete all the doses for the vaccine you take. Learn more about the CDC COVID vaccine requirement for immigration purposes.
Remember, if you refuse to receive the required vaccines, your immigration application may be denied.
If you are applying for an immigrant visa outside of the USA, you must receive the COVID-19 vaccine with other required vaccinations such as mumps, measles, polio, hepatitis B, and others. Learn more about the USA vaccination requirements and your options if you refuse to get vaccinated.
The booster shot for the COVID-19 vaccine is available to fully vaccinated people. The initial preference is for people:
- 65 years and older
- 18 years and older with pre-existing conditions
- In long-term care accommodations
- In high-risk settings
The CDC supports the booster shot. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the use of the booster shot.
To get the booster shot, you must have received the Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, or Moderna vaccines. Please follow these guidelines:
- Pfizer-BioNTech – You can receive the booster shot at least 6 months after your second dose.
- Johnson & Johnson – You can receive the booster shot at least 2 months after the single dose.
- Moderna – You can receive the booster shot at least 6 months after your second dose.
You can “mix and match” vaccines for your booster shot. This means you can choose which vaccine to receive for your booster regardless of the first vaccine you got.
It would be best if you got a booster shot because:
- Experts say that protection from the vaccine against COVID-19 decreases over time. Current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish, especially for high-risk people.
- The Delta variant is circulating widely.
- Additional doses could provide long-lasting protection.
The CDC guarantees that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The CDC recommends that you receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.
On August 23, 2021, the FDA fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for people 16 years of age and older. Before the full approval, the Pfizer vaccine had been in use since December 2020 due to an emergency authorization.
The FDA has authorized emergency use of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. They are still pending full approval.
As of May 1, by Presidential order, everyone in the United States is eligible to get the vaccine.
Currently, several states and counties do not have restrictions on vaccinating residents and visitors. Other states ask for proof that you live in that state, such as a driver’s license, identification card, or showing evidence of residency (i.e. mortgage statement or rental or lease agreement).
Please check the requirements of the state where you live.
The COVID-19 vaccine is available at many locations. Here are some common options:
- If you are not vaccinated, you can find a vaccine near you. Call 1-800-232-0233 or text your zip code to 438829.
- The CDC recommends using the online vaccine finder to find a location near you.
- Check with your local pharmacy.
- Check with your primary care doctor.
- You can also visit vietcovid.org. You will get information about the vaccine, where to find the vaccine in several states, and facts on the effects of the vaccine. The information is in English and Vietnamese.
- You can call Mi Familia Vota at 1-833-868-2667 to get a vaccine location near you. The information is available in English and Spanish.
- Visit the website of your state department of health. Here are links to each state (some states have information in other languages):
After getting the vaccine, it is possible to have mild to moderate side effects. These occur because your body is working on building protection against the virus. Your immune system is telling your body to react in a certain way to increase your blood flow and raise your body’s temperature to kill the virus.
Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to a vaccine. You may have different side effects from your family or friends.
The most common symptoms include:
- Swelling, redness, and pain at the injection site
- Muscle pain
The FDA says that although no severe allergic reactions were reported during clinical trials of the vaccines, after getting vaccinated some patients suffered a severe allergic reaction.
Because of this small possibility, after receiving your COVID-19 shot, you must remain under observation for 15 to 20 minutes in the place where you received the vaccine.
The coronavirus vaccine is voluntary. However, health authorities recommend that everyone get the vaccine if they can. The vaccine will help protect you from contracting and transmitting the virus.
According to the CDC, here are some of the common myths and facts about getting the coronavirus vaccine:
- Myth: I’ll have problems having a baby.
- Fact: Right now there is no evidence the vaccines cause problems in the pregnancy or the development of the placenta.
- Myth: Getting the shot will alter my DNA.
- Fact: The COVID vaccines don’t change your DNA; the vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses so you can develop immunity.
- Myth: After getting the shot, I will test positive for COVID.
- Fact: There is no authorized vaccine that causes a positive result on the viral tests (the tests used to know if you have the infection).
- Myth: After getting the shot, I will get COVID.
- Fact: There’s no authorized vaccine that contains the live virus, so the vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, different scientists have been working hard to rapidly develop a vaccine.
It is very likely that the vaccine you have received or may receive was developed by an immigrant. Pfizer was founded by Charles Pfizer an immigrant from Germany. BioNTech was founded by a husband-wife team of Turkish origin. The founders of Moderna, an American company, include immigrants from Canada and Lebanon.
Learn about the three types of vaccines:
- Pfizer – BioNTech vaccine: Requires two doses administered 21 days apart. This vaccine is applied to the upper arm and is recommended for people 16 years of age and older. This vaccine has been fully approval from the FDA.
- Moderna vaccine: Requires two doses administered 28 days apart. This vaccine is applied to the upper arm and is recommended for people 18 years of age and older.
- Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine: Requires a single dose. This vaccine is applied to the upper arm and is recommended for people 18 years of age and older.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free. It has no cost because the federal government provides it to all people who live in the United States, regardless of their immigration status or if they have or do not have health insurance.
According to the CDC, vaccine providers cannot:
- Charge for the vaccine.
- Charge for administrative expenses or insurance co-payments.
- Deny the vaccine to people who are uninsured, underinsured, or out-of-network.
- Charge for the medical visit when they only provide the vaccine.
- Require you to use other services to receive the vaccine.
Please note that providers can charge for additional medical services provided when you receive the vaccine.
Providers can ask for your health insurance information to bill the insurance company for the administration of the vaccine. Providers cannot charge you the balance of the bill.
Yes, the federal government provides the vaccine free of charge to everyone living in the United States, regardless of immigration status.
In a February 1, 2021 statement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it supports access to the vaccine for all people residing in the United States, regardless of immigration status.
According to DHS, it is a public health and moral necessity that everyone has access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Learn more about this important information from the Health Resources & Services Administration.
When you receive the first dose of your coronavirus vaccine, you will receive a white card. The card will have your name, vaccination date, where you were vaccinated, and the type of vaccine you received.
Please keep your card in a safe place. You will need it to receive your second dose, the booster shot, and perhaps in the future.
If you do not receive a vaccination card, contact the center where you were vaccinated or check with your local health department.
Remember that your card includes your private information such as your date of birth and your name. To keep your privacy safe, do not share a picture of your card on social media or in any public form.
This information comes from trusted sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). USAHello does not give legal advice or medical advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal or medical advice. If you need medical help or require medical assistance, call your doctor or the health authorities.