About COVID-19 Vaccine - Minnesota Dept. of Health
As we learn more about COVID-19, recommendations and guidance are updated frequently. Please check back often.

About COVID-19 Vaccine

On this page:
Who should get vaccinated
Vaccine doses
Getting vaccinated
After getting the vaccine
How a vaccine helps
More information

Every Minnesotan age 5 years and older can get vaccinated. All Minnesotans age 12 and older should get a booster vaccine when they are due.

There have been three COVID-19 vaccines licensed (approved) for use or authorized for use under an emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These are the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For more on how vaccines are approved or authorized, made, and tested visit Available COVID-19 Vaccines and Safety.

Who should get vaccinated

Vaccination is recommended for all people 5 years and older. This includes people with underlying medical conditions; people who have had COVID-19, are pregnant, or are immunocompromised; and those of different ages, races, and ethnicities.

People who have had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine should not get that vaccine. They may want to talk to an allergy specialist.

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You should get vaccinated even if you already had COVID-19.

For any dose of vaccine, including booster doses, people 5 years and older can get vaccinated after you have completed your isolation period and are no longer contagious. Refer to If You Are Sick or Test Positive for more information. If your illness caused you to be hospitalized, talk to your health care provider about timing of vaccination.

Consider these things before getting any dose of vaccine, including a booster dose:

  • If you or your child have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, especially if that person lives with you or your child, wait to get vaccinated until after your quarantine period has ended. Waiting to get vaccinated helps make sure that any side effects experienced after vaccination are just from the vaccine, and not COVID-19 symptoms. Visit Close Contacts & Quarantine for more information on how long to quarantine.
  • If you or your child has a mild illness (e.g., sore throat, stuffy nose, etc.), get tested for COVID-19 and wait until symptoms have improved and until you or your child have been fever-free for 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers, before getting vaccinated.

At this time, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that has been studied and authorized for use in people ages 5 years and older. Children age 5 to 11 should get the Pfizer vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds as it is a smaller dose of vaccine than the Pfizer vaccine for people age 12 and older. Data from Pfizer vaccine studies show the vaccine is safe and effective for children and teens.

On Jan. 5, 2022, FDA and CDC authorized emergency use of a single booster shot for people 12-17 years of age at least five months after completing their primary series of Pfizer vaccine. Refer to Vaccine doses for more information.

Parents can find vaccine locations and more information about the COVID-19 vaccine for their children at State of Minnesota: COVID-19 Vaccine for Children and Teens.

Find additional resources and information at CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens.

Because children and youth with specialized health needs and disabilities may be at higher risk for more severe illness from COVID-19, families and caregivers are asked to strongly consider vaccinating children 5 years and older with any underlying health condition or disability.

Learn more at Disabilities and Unique Health Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccination, including a booster shot when due, is strongly recommended for people who are pregnant, recently pregnant, breastfeeding, and considering pregnancy in the future.

  • Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get very sick with COVID-19 disease compared with non-pregnant people. The data show the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect a pregnant person and their growing baby from severe illness from COVID-19.
  • A person who is breastfeeding can get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. There is no reason to avoid starting or continuing breastfeeding after getting vaccinated.
  • There is no evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines affect future fertility. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who want to get pregnant someday or are currently trying to get pregnant.

Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy (PDF)
Fact sheet for people who are pregnant or who may want to get pregnant in the future.
Updated 10/15/21

Learn more at CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding.

Immunocompromised means a person has a weak immune system. People with advanced or untreated HIV infection, other immunocompromising conditions, or who take medications or therapies that weaken the immune system might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19.

The vaccine may not work as well in immunocompromised people because they may not have a strong immune response to the vaccine (they may have less protection). Because of this, CDC recommends that people with certain immunocompromising conditions receive an additional dose of vaccine as part of their primary vaccination series. An additional primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine for this group is different than a booster dose. People who get an additional primary dose are recommended to get booster shots as well. More information is in the “Vaccine doses” section below.

People should talk to their health care provider about their medical condition and what vaccine doses they need.

CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People

Vaccine doses

Some COVID-19 vaccines require one dose and some require two doses as part of their primary series. Your health care provider will let you know which vaccine you are getting.

There are also recommendations for people with certain immunocompromising conditions to receive an additional dose as part of their primary series.

The two-dose COVID-19 vaccine schedule

Two doses are needed for the primary series of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Your health care provider or the person giving you the vaccine will let you know when to get your second dose.

  • The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is given 3-8 weeks after the first dose.
  • The second dose of the Moderna vaccine is given 4-8 weeks after the second dose.

New research suggests that people ages 12 to 64, particularly males age 12 to 39, may benefit from getting their second dose eight weeks after the first dose. A longer time between the first and second doses may increase the effectiveness of these vaccines, and minimize the small risk of heart problems, including myocarditis and pericarditis.

Some people should still get their second doses at three or four weeks. People ages 5 through 11 years, people 65 years and older, people at risk of severe disease, or anyone needing to develop protection quickly because of high levels of COVID-19 in their community should get the second dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine three weeks after the first dose, or the second dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine four weeks after the first dose.

People who have already received their primary series and got the two doses three or four weeks apart do not need to repeat any doses.

It is important to get both vaccine doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The second dose increases your immunity to COVID-19 and provides longer protection. You should get the same product for the two doses in the primary series. Even if it is beyond the recommended amount of time between the two doses, go get your second dose. You will not have to start over.

We recommend that you schedule an appointment for your second dose when you get the first dose. Make sure you write down the appointment date somewhere you will remember.

Additional dose of mRNA vaccine for people with certain immunocompromising conditions

CDC recommends that people with certain immunocompromising conditions get an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) as part of their primary vaccine series.

If you received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), you should get the same product that you received when you were initially vaccinated, and the additional dose should be given at least 28 days after your second dose of vaccine.

If you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should receive a second dose of an mRNA vaccine at least 28 days after your single Johnson & Johnson dose.

People should talk to their health care provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.

CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People

COVID-19 vaccines continue to work very well at reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death, but data suggest that protection against COVID-19 infection decreases over time. A booster shot is given when protection from the original vaccination begins to decrease. This additional dose of vaccine can help get protection back up to a higher level.

More information about booster shots

  • Many routine vaccines require booster shots to maintain protection. For example, people are due to get a tetanus shot every 10 years. That shot is a booster shot. It "boosts" your ability to fight the disease if you are exposed, because we know original protection from the vaccine decreases over time.
  • People who have received their primary vaccine series (e.g., two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine) still have some protection even once protection starts to decrease. The booster shot helps get protection back up to a higher level.
  • People with certain immunocompromising conditions that received an additional dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as part of their primary vaccine series will also need boosters.

Watch and share videos about what booster shots are and why they are necessary at Videos for COVID-19 Response: Booster shots.

All Minnesotans age 12 and older should get a booster shot. The timing of your booster shot depends on the vaccine you received for your primary vaccine series and if you were recommended to get an additional dose as part of your primary series (refer to people with certain immunocompromising conditions below).

If you got Johnson & Johnson vaccine:

People age 18 and older should get a booster shot at least 2 months after their first dose.

If you got Moderna vaccine:

People age 18 and older should get a booster shot at least 5 months after their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine.

If you got Pfizer vaccine:

People age 12 and older should get a booster shot at least 5 months after their primary series of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

People with certain immunocompromising conditions

If you initially got Johnson & Johnson vaccine and then a recommended additional mRNA (Moderna or Pfizer) vaccine, you should get a booster dose 2 months after that mRNA dose.

If you got Moderna or Pfizer for your primary series of three doses, you should get a booster dose 3 months after that third dose.

Your provider may also talk to you about getting a second booster 4 months later (additional information below).

Certain people may get a second booster

Certain people may choose to get a second booster shot to enhance their protection.

  • People age 50 years and older.
  • People age 12-49 years who have certain immunocompromising conditions.
  • People age 18 and older who received Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for their initial dose and booster dose.

The second booster shot should be given at least 4 months after the first booster and it should be either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Available evidence shows that a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could improve protection against severe COVID-19, especially among the elderly and those with a very weak immune system. Additionally, a second booster could enhance protection for people who have received two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about getting a second booster shot.

Mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccine booster doses

Officials also authorized "mixing and matching" COVID-19 vaccine boosters, meaning adults age 18 and older can get any of the three currently authorized or approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) – regardless of what vaccine you received for your primary series. Pfizer and Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) are preferred over Johnson & Johnson for booster vaccination. People 12-17 years of age can only receive the Pfizer vaccine because it is the only authorized vaccine for them.

Talk to your health care provider about your risk, the need for a booster dose, and any questions about mixing and matching doses.

Refer to CDC: Stay Up to Date with Your Vaccines for more information.

Getting vaccinated

  • A mask. Some vaccination locations may require use of a face covering for all visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Your health insurance information if you have it. If you do not have health insurance, that is OK. You do not need health insurance to get the vaccine.
  • Legal ID if you have one and feel comfortable sharing it. You do not need a legal ID to get the vaccine.
  • Your vaccination card if you are getting a second dose, an additional dose of mRNA vaccine for people with certain immunocompromising conditions, or a booster dose.

You should receive a card when you get your first COVID-19 vaccine that has the vaccine product you got and the date you were vaccinated.

  • The vaccine card is for your own record.
    • The State of Minnesota does not require proof of vaccination for events such as traveling, concerts, or other activities. Private businesses may ask for proof of vaccination, but what forms are accepted may vary, so check with the venue or company about what is accepted before you go.
  • Hold on to your vaccine card. When you get a second dose, additional dose, or booster shot, bring the card with you to your appointment so that all doses can be recorded on the same card.
    • Keep your card in a safe place with your other records.
    • Take a picture of your card on your phone.
    • Do not laminate your card because additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine may be recommended and it is simpler to keep all the doses on one card.

MDH cannot provide a replacement CDC vaccine card and does not determine how they are used.

If you lose your card:

  • It is OK if you lose your card. If you lose it between shots, ask for a new one when you get another dose and ask them to record your previous dose(s) on it.
    • If you have not made an appointment for your next dose and need the information about your previous doses, you can request your vaccination record from the health department to see which vaccine product you got and when you need your next dose. Go to Find My Immunization Record.
    • Your health care provider can also look up your vaccination record to help determine when you should get your next dose.
  • You can request a copy of your vaccination record, which includes the same information as the vaccine card, at Find My Immunization Record.
  • If you were vaccinated in another state or country, go to Find My Immunization Record under “What if my MIIC record is missing immunizations?”

Lost Your Vaccine Card? (PDF)
Fact sheet with steps you can take if you lose your vaccine card.

Travelers should refer to CDC: U.S. Citizens. U.S. Nationals, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants: Air Travel to and from the United States for more information.

It is not recommended to take over-the-counter medications before getting your vaccine to prevent side effects. Taking over-the-counter medicines after getting the shot is OK if you have side effects. Take what you normally would take in that situation.

If you take over-the-counter medications for a different condition/pain management, it is OK to take them on your regular schedule even when you are getting the vaccine.

When you get your COVID-19 vaccine, you will be asked to share your full name, date of birth, address, phone number, and gender. You do not have to be a resident of Minnesota to get vaccinated here. You will never be asked about your immigration status when getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting vaccinated will not impact your eligibility to gain lawful permanent residence status (green card). You will not be identified as a public charge.

The person who gives you the vaccine is required to enter vaccine data into Minnesota's immunization information system, the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC). MIIC keeps track of someone's vaccination history and makes sure they get the right vaccinations at the right time. Find more information at About MIIC. MIIC collects name, date of birth, address, phone number, and various information related the vaccination itself (administration date, vaccine type, lot number, etc.). MDH shares de-identified vaccine data (general information that does not include the person's name) with the federal government (CDC) every day. This means that the data could not be traced back to a specific person. MDH does not share any information with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time as other vaccines (like flu vaccine). You can also receive a COVID-19 vaccine if you recently received another vaccine.

All COVID-19 vaccines are free. However, health care providers can charge an administration fee to insurance companies for giving the vaccine to someone. This means that you might be asked for your insurance information when you get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have insurance, you should provide that information when you get your vaccine. The administration fee helps cover costs of staffing, space, printing, extra supplies, and more. You can still get the COVID-19 vaccine if you do not have insurance. No one should receive a bill for the vaccine or administration fee. If you get a bill, call the place where you got your vaccine or your health insurance company.

After getting the vaccine

It takes about two weeks for your body to build up initial protection after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Some people who are vaccinated will get sick, but vaccination greatly reduces the chance of hospitalization and death.

Even when you are vaccinated, you should:

  • Wear a mask. For more information, refer to Masks: COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Stay home if you are sick, especially if you have been around someone who has COVID-19. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested. Learn more at CDC: Symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Do not visit people who have had close contact to someone with COVID-19 and are in quarantine.
  • If you travel, follow CDC requirements and recommendations at Travel During COVID-19.
  • Follow guidance specific to your workplace.

Some side effects are common after vaccination. They are a result of your body responding to the vaccine (it's also OK if you don't have any side effects at all). Side effects happen within a day or two of vaccination and go away one to two days later. You may have:

  • Pain where you received the vaccine
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Achy muscles and joints
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Swelling in your armpit

If your symptoms don't go away or get worse, you may have been exposed to COVID-19 before your body had time to build the protection from the vaccine. Get tested if you think you may have COVID-19.

Serious adverse events

A serious adverse event is something that results in hospitalization or is life-threatening. Most adverse effects occur in the six weeks after getting a vaccine.

If you have a severe reaction, contact your health care provider. If it is an emergency, go to a hospital or call 911.

There have been reports of some serious allergic reactions or anaphylaxis, most occurring 15-30 minutes following vaccination. Allergic reactions like this are known to happen after taking medicines or getting vaccinated, but they are still very rare. Clinics are prepared to respond quickly to adverse reactions. You will be asked to wait 15-30 minutes after you have been vaccinated so that clinic staff can observe you.

Learn more at CDC: Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination.

Myocarditis and pericarditis

Some people who have received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have had rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart). In most cases, symptoms began within seven days after the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Most cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been in young men. The chance of having this occur is very low and is higher in people with COVID-19 disease than after vaccination. Seek medical attention right away if you have any of the following symptoms after receiving COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart

For more information, visit CDC: Myocarditis and Pericarditis Following mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination.

Guillain-Barré syndrome

A few people who have received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 have experienced Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). GBS is a rare disorder where the body's immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent nerve damage. The benefits of vaccination outweigh the slight risk of this side effect and the chance of having this occur is very rare.

Symptoms of GBS have mostly been reported about two weeks after someone gets vaccinated and mostly in men ages 50-64 years of age. CDC will continue to monitor for and evaluate reports of GBS happening after COVID-19 vaccination and will share more information as it becomes available.

Seek medical attention right away if you have any of the following symptoms after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine:

  • Weakness or tingling sensations, especially in the legs or arms, that's worsening and spreading to other parts of the body
  • Hard time walking
  • Hard time with moving your face, including speaking, chewing, or swallowing
  • Double vision or not being able to move eyes
  • Difficulty with bladder control or bowel function

Blood clotting issues (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, TTS)

Some people who have received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine have developed blood clots involving blood vessels in the brain, abdomen, and legs along with low levels of platelets (blood cells that help your body stop bleeding). Most people who developed these blood clots and low levels of platelets were adult women younger than 50 years old. The chance of having this occur is very rare. For women 50 years and older and men of all ages, this adverse event is even more rare. For three weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, be on the lookout for these symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Abdominal/stomach pain that doesn't go away
  • Severe headaches or headaches that won't go away
  • Blurred vision
  • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection

If you have any of these symptoms after getting the vaccine, you should seek medical attention right away. Tell the health care provider that you recently received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than a month ago, you are unlikely to develop this condition.

People with a history of TTS following a COVID-19 vaccine should not get the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. These people should receive a dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) as a booster at least 2 months following their dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and after their clinical condition has stabilized. Learn more at CDC: Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines: Considerations for Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Should Know (PDF)

Side effects can happen after vaccination and can be similar to symptoms of illnesses, like COVID-19. These side effects can include pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given. Less common side effects can include headache, fatigue, or fever.

  • If you are experiencing side effects where the shot was given (such as pain, swelling, or redness), but you are otherwise well, you can return to work or school. Typically, side effects start within a day of receiving the vaccine and may last for three days.
  • If you are experiencing other symptoms of illness like fever, headache, or noticeable tiredness, then you should stay home. These may or may not be due to the vaccine. With any of these symptoms, stay home until your symptoms are improved and you have not had a fever for 24 hours. If symptoms worsen or last longer than three days, stay home and call your health care provider. Because the virus that causes COVID-19 is still in our communities, it is possible that you were exposed to COVID-19 before or around the same time you were vaccinated, so it may be helpful to get tested.

Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen are effective in managing vaccine side effects including pain where the shot was given, body aches, and fever after you get vaccinated. Cool cloths may relieve the swelling or pain at the injection site. Move or exercise your arm. Take the medicine you usually take when you have pain or fever or follow the instructions of your health care provider.

If you have a severe reaction, contact your health care provider. If it is an emergency, go to a hospital or call 911. Providers should report severe reactions (those that require some type of medical care) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This reporting system helps the CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.


CDC has also launched a new patient reporting tool for COVID-19 vaccine. It is a smartphone app called v-safe. This app can help with active monitoring for COVID-19 vaccine safety after you get the COVID-19 vaccine. Your health care provider will give you more information on v-safe. You can learn more at V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker and access an information sheet and flyers in multiple languages at V-safe Print Resources.

Vaccine breakthrough cases (where someone becomes sick with the disease after being up to date on vaccinations) are expected and normal. No vaccine works 100% of the time, but there is still a lot of value in getting vaccinated. We know these vaccines are safe and help keep people from ending up in the hospital or dying from COVID-19. If you do get sick, it is likely that your symptoms will be milder than if you didn't get vaccinated.

Based on available data, COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases remain uncommon. You can learn more about breakthrough data in Minnesota at COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Weekly Update.

There are a few reasons we have started to see more vaccine breakthrough cases:

  • As more people are vaccinated while COVID-19 virus is still in our communities (especially when a lot of disease is circulating), more of the cases we identify will be in vaccinated people. The vaccine will never fully protect everyone from disease.
  • Things people choose to do may be more or less risky, such as going to large gatherings, hanging out in crowded settings, traveling, etc. It also depends on how much COVID-19 virus is currently circulating in a community and vaccination rates.

Vaccination continues to be the best tool in our prevention toolbox against COVID-19. People who are vaccinated will have a less severe illness and are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than people with similar risk factors who are not vaccinated. It is still important to continue to use other tools for best protection, such as masking, frequent handwashing, getting tested when needed, and keeping physical distance from others.

Most Minnesotans who are newly diagnosed with COVID-19 or admitted to the hospital are unvaccinated. With highly-contagious variants circulating in Minnesota, it has never been more important to get vaccinated.

People who have been vaccinated should make sure they still get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 disease.

How a vaccine helps

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your community. The more people who get vaccinated against COVID-19, the better it is for everyone. More people vaccinated means that there will be less disease in our communities. Vaccination will also help prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants.

Herd immunity is also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or social immunity. This is when most people in a population or group are immune to a disease. Being immune means they cannot get the disease because either they got a vaccine, or they already had the disease and cannot get it again, at least for a while.

When a lot of people are immune, it helps to protect other people in the population who are not immune. Having herd immunity can stop or slow the spread of disease because it is harder for the germ to find people who are susceptible to disease and make them sick.

We do not know enough about COVID-19 to be sure herd immunity is possible. This is a new disease, so there has not been enough time to fully study immunity yet. It is possible that even with most of the population vaccinated, COVID-19 will still be able to spread in the population but at a much lower level/rate.

People can become very sick, be hospitalized, and or even die from COVID-19. This is why we do not want to rely on herd immunity happening by causing illness in everyone. Vaccination lets a person's body develop protection against a disease without having to actually get sick and long COVID, hospitalization, or death.

More information

Updated Wednesday, 11-May-2022 11:48:55 CDT