COVID-19 vaccines at VA
We offer COVID-19 vaccines to eligible Veterans and family members at no cost. Find out how to get your COVID-19 vaccine at VA. And get the latest VA vaccine updates and answers to common questions.
Latest updates: January 11, 2023
Updated booster shots are available at most VA health facilities. These updated boosters protect against both the original virus strain and the Omicron variant. Call before you come in to make sure the facility has the booster you want.
We offer updated COVID-19 vaccine booster shots at no cost. If you’re an eligible Veteran or family member, you can get an updated booster if all of these are true for you:
- You haven’t already had an updated bivalent booster (first offered in September 2022), and
- You’re at least 12 years old, and
- You completed your primary vaccine series, and
- You got your last dose of the original COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago
Note: The Novavax vaccine is now authorized as a first booster for people ages 18 and older in limited cases. You can get it 6 months after your primary vaccine series if you haven’t gotten any boosters yet. Novavax is not updated to protect against the Omicron variant.
If you haven’t started your primary COVID-19 vaccine series yet, you can still get an original COVID-19 vaccine. These vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19.
We offer free COVID-19 testing to eligible Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care.
Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA
We offer COVID-19 vaccines to these groups:
- All Veterans (including Veterans who live or travel outside of the U.S. and are eligible for the VA Foreign Medical Program)
Learn more about the VA Foreign Medical Program
- Spouses and surviving spouses of Veterans
- Caregivers of Veterans (including family members or friends who provide care to a Veteran)
- Recipients of Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) benefits
More information about who can get a vaccine
Which Veterans are eligible for a vaccine?
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, Reserve, 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
This also includes Veterans who live or travel outside of the U.S. and are eligible for the VA Foreign Medical Program.
Can eligible adolescents ages 12 to 17 get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA?
Yes. Eligible adolescents ages 12 to 17 can now get a Moderna, Novavax, or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at VA facilities that provide these vaccines.
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:
- Not all VA health facilities offer all 3 of these vaccines right now. And not all VA health facilities may offer vaccines to teens under age 18. 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.
Who does VA consider a caregiver?
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.
Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding?
Yes. The CDC and other experts strongly recommend that people who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Pregnant people are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Severe illness may mean having to go to the hospital, needing a ventilator to breathe, or having an illness that results in death. Pregnant people also have an increased risk of preterm birth.
COVID-19 vaccines can help protect you from COVID-19. And experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Yes. Data from clinical trials show that the 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.
Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time?
Yes. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time. Here’s what the CDC recommends:
- If you haven’t gotten your currently recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.
- Try to get a flu vaccine by the end of October. A flu shot is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health every year.
Note: Only Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care can get flu shots at VA health facilities. Call before you come in to make sure the facility has both vaccines.
How to get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA
We encourage you to stay up to date with all of your recommended vaccines. 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.
How to get your first or second vaccine dose
- Find a VA health facility that offers walk-in hours at their COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Not all facilities offer walk-in hours. Be sure to check the facility’s website for walk-in hours before you go. When you arrive, you may need to wait for the staff to prepare your vaccine.
- Or call a VA health facility that offers COVID-19 vaccines 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:
- You must receive the same vaccine for your initial vaccine series. The Moderna, Novavax, and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines require 2 doses to be effective. You must receive the same type of vaccine for both doses. Not all VA health facilities have all vaccines right now. And facilities may offer different vaccines at different times. Confirm that the facility has the vaccine you need before you come in to get your vaccine.
- 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.
How to get your booster shot
We offer COVID-19 booster shots to people who are eligible based on CDC recommendations.
More information about getting your vaccine at VA
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 have questions before you decide to get your vaccine:
Before you get your vaccine
Where we offer COVID-19 vaccines
VA health facilities
We offer COVID-19 vaccines at many VA health facilities and clinics. 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.
Community care facilities
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 information card (PDF). Show the card to the provider before you get your vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are currently provided free of charge to all Americans and there will be no cost to you for receiving your COVID-19 vaccine.
We encourage you to take the first opportunity you have to get a vaccine at the most convenient location for you.
How we contact Veterans about getting a 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 80728.
- 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.
What to tell your health care provider before you 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 same COVID-19 vaccine again. But you may be able to receive a different type of 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:
- FDA Janssen COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet (PDF)
- FDA Moderna COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet (PDF)
- FDA Novavax COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet (PDF)
- FDA Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet
Currently available COVID-19 vaccines
The FDA has authorized or approved 4 COVID-19 vaccines for public use:
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people who are at least 6 months old
- The Moderna vaccine for people who are at least 6 months old
- The Novavax vaccine for people who are at least 12 years old
- The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine for people who are at least 18 years old
The Janssen vaccine is only recommended for people unable to take the other COVID-19 vaccines.
Note: Not all VA health facilities have all types of vaccines. And facilities may offer different vaccines at different times.
After you get your vaccine
What to expect after you get 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 the side effects reported for the 4 authorized vaccines, read the FDA fact sheets:
How we monitor vaccine safety
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.
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:
How we use and store information about your vaccine status
When you get your COVID-19 vaccine, we’ll add this information to your VA health record. It’s your choice if you want to get a vaccine. Your decision won’t affect your VA health care or other benefits and services in any way.
Within VA, we use vaccine status information for several reasons:
- To help with individual Veterans’ care
- To reach out to Veterans who might still need a vaccine
- To find places or groups of Veterans with low vaccination rates so we can provide more information and vaccine clinics
You can get a copy of your VA COVID-19 vaccine records through the My HealtheVet website or on your mobile device.
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.
What to do if you get a COVID-19 vaccine outside of VA
It’s your choice where you’d like to go to get a vaccine.
If you get the Moderna, Novavax, or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, you’ll need to get 2 doses. All of these vaccines require 2 doses to be effective.
If you got some doses outside of VA, you can still get any remaining doses that are recommended for you here.
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 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.