Learn about the COVID-19 vaccine and booster. Find out how to get vaccinated and tested. Know what to do if you get COVID-19. Get information for immigrants, including vaccine requirements for immigration.
Updated October 17, 2022
The COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone in the USA who is 6 months of age and older. The vaccine can decrease your risk of infection and severe illness.
If you received your 2nd dose of the vaccine or recently had COVID, you should wait two months to get the updated booster. For the most current information, go to the CDC website.
The COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are free for everyone. Immigrants in the USA can get the vaccine. Your immigration status does not matter.
You can get the vaccine or booster shot at pharmacies, grocery stores, and local health clinics.
Find a vaccine or booster near you:
- Visit vaccines.gov
- Call 1-800-232-0233
- Text your zip code to 438829
Make sure to keep your COVID-19 vaccination card in a safe place.
There are two boosters currently available:
- Pfizer BioNTech updated bivalent booster
- Moderna updated bivalent booster
The updated booster will protect you from the original virus and from the Omicron variant. The original monovalent booster did not protect against Omnicron.
NOTE: If you received other types of COVID-19 vaccine outside the United States, there are other recommendations to follow.
Children 6 months and older can get either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine. The Novavax vaccine is available for those 12 and older.
Children 5 and older can get the Pfizer-BioNTech updated booster.
Children 6 and older can get the Moderna update booster.
You can choose either booster. It does no matter what type of original vaccine your child had.
Learn more about the vaccine and booster schedule for kids.
There are two types of COVID-19 tests:
also known as antigen, home or self-test
For the rapid test, you’ll need a nasal swab and you’ll get results in 30 minutes or less. This test is considered less reliable and can be done at home.
also known as a PCR
The lab test requires a nasal swab or a saliva sample and you can get results in 1 to 3 days. It is considered a reliable test. This test is usually performed by a nurse, medical technician, or doctor.
To get tested you can:
- Ask your primary care physician for a COVID-19 test or go to a medical lab to request a test.
- Buy a rapid test. Usually, these tests are sold as over-the-counter products in pharmacies and supermarkets. If you have insurance, you can get reimbursed for at-home tests.
Many organizations and community testing sites offer low-cost or free testing. Find a location near you.
If you get sick with COVID-19, it is important to stay home and keep yourself separated from other people for 5 days. You should wear a well-fitted mask if you have to be around others. As with any illness, your body needs rest and hydration.
Call your doctor if your symptoms are changing or if you have trouble breathing.
The CDC offers helpful instructions for those that test positive.
Undocumented immigrants and all immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees can also get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot.
You can trust the government health information
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the government agency that helps protect the health of everyone living in the USA. You can trust their information. You can also trust your local health authorities and medical services. Every state, county, and city government has a public health agency.
I am undocumented and need healthcare
You have healthcare rights in the USA, whatever your legal status. You may also have rights to health insurance.
Learn about your healthcare rights:
Here are more resources:
- Find a free clinic (health services for people who cannot pay).
- Find a health center (health services that only charge what you can afford). Many health centers offer free COVD-19 testing to everyone.
- California has health coverage called Medi-Cal. It is for low-income, undocumented immigrants who are younger than 25.
Do I need to worry about public charge?
No, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot. It will not be a public charge. Learn more at Protecting Immigrant Families.
If you need a medical examination for an immigration application, you also need to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
You will need to complete all the doses of the vaccine. 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.
Learn more about the USA vaccination requirements and your options if you refuse to get vaccinated.
The CDC guarantees that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
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.
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
Facts and myths
Here are some of the common myths and facts about getting the coronavirus vaccine from the CDC:
- Myth: I’ll have problems having a baby.
- Fact: There is no evidence that vaccines cause problems in the pregnancy or the placenta.
- Myth: Getting the shot will alter my DNA.
- Fact: The COVID vaccines do not 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. The vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID.
Across the USA, people are being targeted because of fears about COVID-19.
What can you do?
- You can report discrimination to your local government or your local ACLU affiliate.
- You can submit an incident report to the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council.
- If you are discriminated against at work, you can file a formal complaint to the US government.
- Find information about stigma from the CDC.
- Find anti-stigma resources from Washington state.
- Learn what to do if someone is threatening you.
- You can also learn about your rights.
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, call your doctor or the health authorities.