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COVID-19 vaccines at VA

All Veterans, their spouses and caregivers, and CHAMPVA recipients can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA. Find out how to get your vaccine. And get the latest VA vaccine updates and answers to common questions.

How to get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA

We encourage you to get your vaccine as soon as you can. It’s the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community against COVID-19. This is especially important as new forms (or “variants”) of the coronavirus spread more quickly in the U.S. 

  • Go to the facility's vaccine clinic during walk-in hours. Be sure to check the walk-in hours before you go. When you arrive, you may need to wait for the staff to prepare your vaccine.
  • Or call the facility to schedule an appointment. Our staff will help you find a time that’s convenient for you.

Here’s what to know before you arrive:

  • If you don't receive care at VA, we encourage you to pre-register online at least 1 hour before you go to a walk-in clinic. This will save you time when you arrive.
    Sign up to get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA
  • If you got your first vaccine dose outside of VA, you can still get your second dose at VA.
  • Everyone who enters a VA facility must wear a mask and complete our COVID-19 symptom screening.

Find VA facilities near you that offer COVID-19 vaccines

Have questions before you get your vaccine?

Get COVID-19 vaccine advice from Veterans and VA providers

Sign up to stay informed about COVID-19 vaccines at VA

Who can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA

Many VA health facilities and clinics now offer COVID-19 vaccines to these groups:

  • All Veterans 
  • Spouses and surviving spouses of Veterans
  • Caregivers of Veterans. For COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, we define a caregiver as a family member or friend who provides care to a Veteran. Caregivers may help a Veteran with personal needs like feeding, bathing, or dressing. They may also help a Veteran with tasks like shopping or transportation. 
  • Recipients of Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) benefits

All Veterans are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine at VA.

This includes anyone who served in the U.S. military, including the U.S. National Guard, Reserves, or Coast Guard.

This also includes anyone who served in any of these roles:

  • Commissioned officer of the Regular or Reserve Corp of the Public Health Service, or
  • Commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or Coast and Geodetic Survey), or
  • Cadet at the U.S. Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, or
  • Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy

Yes. Eligible adolescents ages 12 to 17 can now get a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at VA facilities that provide this vaccine. 

Adolescents are eligible if they meet either of these requirements:

  • They receive CHAMPVA benefits, or
  • They help provide care or assistance to a Veteran

Here’s what to know:

  • The Pfizer-BioNTech is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in adolescents at this time. Not all VA health facilities offer this vaccine right now. Check with your VA facility before you go to get a vaccine.
    Find your nearest VA health facility that offers COVID-19 vaccines 
  • The adolescent’s parent or legal  guardian must come with them to get the vaccine. Both the adolescent and their parent or guardian must give their consent for the vaccine.

If you have questions about getting a vaccine at VA:

•    Read our frequently asked questions
•    Use our coronavirus chatbot
•    If you don’t find your answer, call our MyVA411 main information line at 800-698-2411 (TTY: 711).


Basic information about getting your vaccine at VA

Where we offer vaccines

We offer COVID-19 vaccines at many VA health facilities and clinics.

Find your nearest VA facility that offers COVID-19 vaccines

Urgent care locations and retail pharmacies in our community care network also offer COVID-19 vaccines to Veterans. These locations follow their local, state, or territory vaccine plans. Veterans don’t receive priority over others seeking vaccines at these locations.

If you’re enrolled in VA health care and you go to a community care location to get a COVID-19 vaccine, download our pharmacy billing flyer (PDF). Show the card to the provider before you get your vaccine.

Learn more about how to get a COVID-19 vaccine from a community provider

We encourage you to take the first opportunity you have to get a vaccine at the most convenient location for you. 

Find other vaccine providers near you on the CDC vaccine finder website

Vaccine safety

Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes a vaccine for use, they carefully review the available safety data and clinical trial results for that vaccine. Scientists studied the 3 authorized COVID-19 vaccines in tens of thousands of people in clinical trials. 

Millions of people in the United States have now received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. Many people have reported only mild side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Serious side effects are rare.

A small number of people have had a severe allergic reaction (called “anaphylaxis”) after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. But this is rare. After you get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA, we’ll monitor you for 15 to 30 minutes. If you do have a reaction, we have medicines to effectively treat it right away.

An update on the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine

We continue to follow guidance from the CDC and FDA.

When a very small number of people who received the Janssen vaccine experienced rare but serious blood clots, CDC and FDA experts recommended a pause in providing this vaccine. They did this to give them time to study the issue. They then carefully reviewed these cases and all available data. Based on this review, they're confident that this vaccine is safe for use and works well to prevent COVID-19.

The available data shows:

  • The vaccine's benefits outweigh its risks.
  • The chance of blood clots after getting this vaccine is very low. About 7 of every 1 million women between the ages of 18 and 49 who have received this vaccine have experienced these blood clots. For women who are 50 years or old, and men of all ages, they’re even more rare.
  • Women younger than 50 years old should be aware of their increased risk for these rare blood clots. 

If we offer you the Janssen vaccine, we'll give you information about the potential risks and benefits. This includes the rare risk of blood clots. We'll also tell you about your other vaccine options. If you have questions about this vaccine, contact your primary health care provider.

Send a secure message to your VA provider to ask about COVID-19 vaccines

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets:

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets:

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet:

Continued monitoring

We’ll closely monitor everyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccine for reactions, side effects, or adverse events. An adverse event is an injury or harm that happens to someone after they receive a vaccine, which may or may not have been caused by the vaccine.

We’ll report this information in our vaccine monitoring and tracking system. This is the same system we use to monitor reactions to all vaccines, including those for the flu and shingles.

To get more information about COVID-19 vaccine safety in different languages, go to the CDC website:

Privacy

We’ll share the same information with the CDC that we share for other vaccines. This includes the following information:

  • Demographic information (like age, gender, race, and ethnicity) that helps the CDC understand which groups of people are receiving the vaccine
  • Adverse reactions to the vaccine

We won't share names or street addresses.


Questions you may have about COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccine research and FDA authorization

There is no cure for COVID-19 at this time. There are treatments for COVID-19, but the risk of severe illness and death are still high in certain groups of people. And the CDC reports that some of the treatments we use to treat COVID-19 may not work as well against the new form of the coronavirus known as the “Delta variant.”

Learn more about COVID-19 treatments on the CDC website

Learn more about coronavirus variants on the CDC website

The FDA has authorized 3 COVID-19 vaccines for public use. All of these vaccines have been proven effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 disease.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for people who are at least 16 years old. This vaccine requires 2 doses, given 21 days apart.

Read the vaccine fact sheets to learn more:

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for people who are at least 18 years old. This vaccine requires 2 doses, given 28 days apart.

Read the vaccine fact sheets to learn more:

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine

The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for people who are at least 18 years old. This vaccine requires 1 dose.

Read the vaccine fact sheet to learn more:

Federal, private, and academic partners continue to work to provide safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible. 

The FDA is the government agency that regulates all vaccines used in the U.S. It ensures organizations that develop vaccines follow strict scientific and regulatory processes. The FDA also reviews all of the laboratory and clinical trial data for each vaccine to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective before it can be used by the American public. This review process usually takes several years.

During a public health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA can issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). An EUA speeds up the FDA’s review process to get critical medical products such as vaccines to people as quickly as possible. The process still includes all the same important steps, but in a shorter period of time.

After the FDA authorizes the product, they continue to monitor the product’s safety and effectiveness. This includes tracking any adverse reactions or side effects that people may report when using the product.

To learn more about how the FDA and other government partners are speeding up the process to get COVID-19 vaccines to the public, go to the Operation Warp Speed Accelerated COVID-19 Vaccine Process infographic.

To learn more about the EUA process in general, play this FDA video (YouTube).

Yes. As one of the nation’s leaders in health research, we continue to participate in research studies for new COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. These studies are also called clinical trials.

We need research studies to help find more safe and effective ways to prevent and treat COVID-19. Because COVID-19 is so new, we still have a lot to learn.

If you’d like, you can help in these efforts by signing up for our research volunteer list. If we think you may be eligible to be a participant in one of our research studies, we’ll contact you to tell you more about it. Then you can decide if you want to join.

Anyone who is at least 18 years old can volunteer. You don’t have to be a Veteran or enrolled in VA health care. Your decision to join a study or not won’t affect any of your VA benefits or services in any way.

Learn more about volunteering for coronavirus research at VA

Yes. Our effort to provide authorized COVID-19 vaccines to Veterans and VA health care personnel is completely separate from our participation in COVID-19 research studies.

Here's what you need to know:

  • An authorized COVID-19 vaccine is one that the FDA has determined is safe and effective for public use. If you’re eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA, you’ll get an authorized vaccine.
  • Research studies test new vaccines to help determine if they’re truly safe and effective. Research studies require special enrollment and consent. We’ll never give you a study vaccine unless you volunteer to join a study.

    If you do volunteer for a study, the study team will talk with you about all the details of the study before you join. They’ll explain all of the possible benefits and risks. And you can leave the study at any time. 

    Learn more about volunteering for coronavirus research at VA

How COVID-19 vaccines work

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has caused severe illness and death around the world. This is, in part, because the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person.

We have some treatments to help reduce the effects of COVID-19 but a vaccine that helps prevent people from becoming infected is the best way to slow or stop the spread of the virus.

Vaccines help train your body’s natural immune system to recognize and fight a specific disease by stimulating a response to the virus that causes that disease.

When a virus is introduced to your body for the first time, your immune system mounts a defense. This includes making antibodies that help kill or neutralize the virus. If you’re exposed to the same virus again, these antibodies also help your immune system recognize and fight the virus quickly.

To learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work, go to the CDC website.

COVID-19 vaccines offer good protection against the variants we know most about. And widespread vaccination can prevent deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Current vaccines may not offer as much protection against future variants. But with the new types of vaccines that we have now, we can adjust the vaccines to fight new variants. Until we achieve high levels of vaccination around the world, we expect more variants to arise. 

Here’s what we know about the new variant known as the “Delta variant” that’s now spreading across the U.S.:

  • The Delta variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. 
  • The CDC reports that some of the medical treatments we use to treat COVID-19 may not work as well against this variant. 
  • People who haven’t gotten a vaccine—or have only gotten their first of a 2-dose vaccine series—are at highest risk. Getting your second dose is critical. There are reports of people who’ve received only one dose and got very sick from COVID-19. 

Get the latest facts about COVID-19 variants from the CDC website
 

No. The FDA has now authorized 3 different COVID-19 vaccines. Each vaccine’s clinical trial shows different results. But each trial took place in different parts of the U.S. and the world, at different times, and with different rates of COVID-19.

The only way to test how well vaccines work compared to other vaccines is to test them in the same clinical trial (called a head-to-head trial). We don’t have any head-to-head trials for the 3 authorized COVID-19 vaccines at this time.  

What we do know is that all 3 vaccines have been proven effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. We also know that getting a COVID-19 vaccine helps you protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Get more answers about the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine from the FDA

No. mRNA vaccines that protect you from COVID-19 don’t alter your DNA. These vaccines work outside of your cell’s nucleus (where your DNA is kept). The vaccines teach your cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Your cells then break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after they’ve finished using the instructions.

Go to the CDC website to learn more about mRNA vaccines

Vaccines protect you and the people around you. Protecting whole communities from diseases like COVID-19 is an important reason for everyone to get vaccines. We call this “community immunity.”

When enough people are vaccinated and develop immunity to a certain virus, that virus can’t spread as easily from person to person. This means that everyone in the community is less likely to get infected. Even if some people do still get infected, there’s less chance of an outbreak that causes many people in the community to get sick at the same time. This helps prevent issues like too many people needing care at once and not having enough hospital beds or health care providers.

Data shows that some communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. These include Black, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Asian communities. Members of these communities can help protect their families and friends by getting vaccinated.

No. The authorized COVID-19 vaccines, and the vaccines still in development, use inactivated virus, pieces of the virus, or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.

To learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work, go to the CDC website.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine

If you're currently receiving care at VA, your local VA health facility may contact you by phone, email, or text message. If you’re eligible and want to get a vaccine, we encourage you to respond.

But before you provide any personal information or click on any links, be sure the call, email, or text is really from VA.

  • Text messages will always come from 53079.
  • Emails will always come from a va.gov email address.
  • If someone calls you from VA and you don’t recognize the phone number, ask for a number to call them back. Then call your local VA health facility to verify.

Your facility may invite you to get a vaccine in different ways:

  • They may invite you to a large vaccination event, like a drive-thru clinic.
  • They may offer you a specific date and time to get a vaccine.
  • They may ask you to schedule an appointment.

Your health care provider can help you decide if it’s safe for you to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Before you get a vaccine, tell the provider giving you the vaccine about all your health conditions. Be sure to tell your provider if any of the below are true for you:

  • You have any allergies
  • You have a fever
  • You have a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner
  • You have a condition that weakens your immune system and makes you immunocompromised (like cancer, HIV, an organ transplant, or a genetic immune deficiency)
  • You’re taking a medicine that affects your immune system (like chemotherapy or corticosteroids)
  • You’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • You’ve received another COVID-19 vaccine

If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredients in a COVID-19 vaccine, you shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.

To find out what you should know before you get a vaccine, including a list of ingredients, read the FDA fact sheets:

Go to the CDC website to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and allergic reactions 

Data from clinical trials show that the 3 authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe in people who've been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 in the past. 

If you're currently sick from COVID-19, you should wait until you've recovered, and you're finished with isolation to get a vaccine.

If you’ve received passive antibody therapy to treat COVID-19, you should wait at least 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Go to the CDC website for answers to more common questions about COVID-19 vaccines

Yes. It’s always your choice if you want to get a vaccine or not. Your decision won’t affect your VA health care or any of your VA benefits in any way.

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine that requires 2 doses, you must get the same vaccine for both doses.

We encourage you to go to the same location for both doses. But if it’s more convenient, you can go to any VA facility that offers the same type of vaccine as your first dose. You can also choose to get the single-dose Janssen vaccine. Simply find a facility that offers the vaccine you need.

To learn about your facility’s current plan, go to the facility’s website. Once you're on the site, go to Health care services, then COVID-19 in the menu.

Find your local VA health facility’s website

You always have the right to ask questions about any vaccine or treatment. The best person to discuss your concerns with is your health care provider. Your provider can offer more information about each vaccine, and help you make choices that are right for you.

Send a secure message to your VA health care provider

If you don’t receive care at VA, contact your primary health care provider.

No. You can’t get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the flu vaccine, shingles vaccine, or any other vaccine.

We’ll follow CDC guidance on how far apart to space vaccines. You’ll need to wait at least 14 days between getting a COVID-19 vaccine and any other vaccine.

For answers to more frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines, go to the CDC website.

Yes. You can change your mind about getting a vaccine at any time.

During this time, we have a limited supply of vaccines. If you change your mind, we simply ask that you contact your care team as soon as possible. This will allow us to offer the vaccine to another Veteran.

The number of doses you’ll need will depend on the specific COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine experts will need to continue to study the data to determine if and when people will need more vaccine doses to stay protected from COVID-19.

Single-dose vaccine

The authorized Janssen COVID-19 vaccine requires 1 dose. To learn more about this vaccine, read the FDA’s vaccine fact sheet.

FDA Janssen COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet (PDF)

Vaccines that require 2 doses

For each of these vaccines, you’ll need to get both shots for the vaccine to work. Get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first one, unless a health care provider tells you not to.

Go to the CDC website for answers to more common questions about COVID-19 vaccines

Yes. 

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same safety reviews and both require 2 doses to be effective. 

If you get either of these vaccines, you’ll need to get both doses at the same VA facility. If you need to move or travel, please plan for this when you make your first vaccine appointment.

Your employer or local public health officials may offer you a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s your choice where you’d like to go to get a vaccine.

Please know that if you get either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, you’ll need to get 2 doses of the vaccine. Both of these vaccines have gone through the same safety reviews and both require 2 doses to be effective.

If you got your first dose outside of VA, you can still get your second dose here. Or, you can choose to get the single-dose Janssen vaccine.

If you decide to get a COVID-19 vaccine outside of VA, we encourage you to share this information with your VA health care team.

You can send a picture of your vaccination record card to your VA provider through secure messaging

You can also add your vaccine information to your My HealtheVet health summary for your own records. To add your information, you’ll need a Premium My HealtheVet account. Learn more about managing your COVID-19 vaccine records online

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine

You may have some side effects after you get a COVID-19 vaccine. Side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19.

These side effects may feel like the flu. They may even affect your ability to work or do other daily activities. But any side effects should go away in a few days.

Some people have reported severe allergic reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine. When you get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA, we’ll closely monitor your reaction for either 15 or 30 minutes after your vaccine. We’ll also give you all the information you need about what to do if you experience any side effects.

To learn more about what to expect after you get a COVID-19 vaccine, go to the CDC website.

To learn more about the side effects reported for the 3 authorized vaccines, read the FDA fact sheets:

An effective vaccine will lower your risk of getting infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. If you do get infected, the vaccine may also lower your risk of severe illness. But no vaccine can prevent all infections. That’s why one goal of a COVID-19 vaccine is to make it harder for the virus to spread to others.

Ongoing clinical trials showed these results for the 3 authorized vaccines:

We’ll have more information about the long-term effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines after more clinical trials are complete.

We won’t know how long protection will last until we have more data on how well the authorized COVID-19 vaccines work.

For answers to more frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines, go to the CDC website.

No. Even if you receive a COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll still need to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose when you’re in a VA facility. You’ll also need to follow other VA safety rules like practicing physical distancing. This helps protect you, other Veterans, and our staff.

For answers to more frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines, go to the CDC website.

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