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Updates as of Jan. 31, 2022:

We have updated this blog post to reflect the most recent recommendations from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As more information becomes available, we will continue to update our community.


The COVID-19 vaccine is an important part of reducing the spread of the coronavirus, ending the pandemic, and protecting ourselves and other people. It can reduce your chance of severe COVID-19, hospital stays, and death.

What Do I Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Available?

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and easily available throughout the United States for anyone 5 years and older. There are currently three vaccines available: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people ages 12 and older get booster shots after completing the primary series, or first dose(s). Information on each vaccine, their recommended schedules, and boosters are detailed in the article below.

A chart that who can get an additional shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and who can get a booster shot

Click here for larger view

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine, Also Known as COMIRNATY®

COMIRNATY® [koe-MIR-nah-tee] by Pfizer is an mRNA vaccine given in two primary shots three weeks apart. It is available for people ages 5 and older. Children 5 to 11 years of age will receive a lower dose of the vaccine than people 12 and older.

A vaccine for children 4 and younger is still in clinical trials. It will probably be a few more months before the vaccine is authorized for this age group.

If you have any questions about the vaccine for your child, talk with your family doctor or pediatrician.

People Who Are Immunocompromised Need Three Primary Pfizer COVID-19 Shots

Some people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (age 5+) should get a third shot at least four weeks (28 days) after the second shot. This includes people on a high dose of corticosteroids (like prednisone), who have received an organ transplant, or have other serious health conditions. If you got the Pfizer vaccine for your first two shots, the CDC recommends that you get the Pfizer shot for your additional primary shot. People ages 5 to 17 can only get the Pfizer shot for the additional primary shot.

Pfizer Booster Shots for Everyone 12 and Older

The CDC recommends that everyone 12 and older get a booster shot at least five months after their primary Pfizer shots. This includes people who are immunocompromised.

For your booster shot, you can get a Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J shot if you are age 18 or older. If you are age 12 to 17, you can only get a Pfizer booster shot.

The CDC recommends the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. But if you had a severe reaction to an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine dose or don’t have access to a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, then you can get the J&J vaccine.

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients

The Pfizer vaccine does not contain any food proteins, latex, or preservatives. It does contain mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid).

Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19-vaccine-ingredients


Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

During clinical trials for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, these were some of the common side effects:

  • Pain and swelling on the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

More people felt the side effects after the second dose of the vaccine.

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Also Known As spikevax™

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, called spikevax™, is an mRNA vaccine given in two primary shots four weeks apart. It is available for people ages 18 and older.

The FDA is reviewing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 to 17.

People Who Are Immunocompromised Need Three Primary Moderna COVID-19 Shots

If you are moderately to severely immunocompromised, you should get a third shot at least 28 days after your second shot. This includes people on a high dose of corticosteroids (like prednisone), who have received an organ transplant, or have other serious health conditions. If you got the Moderna vaccine for your first two shots, the CDC recommends that you get the Moderna shot for your additional primary shot.

Moderna Booster Shots for All Adults

The CDC recommends that everyone 18 and older who got the Moderna series of shots get a booster shot at least five months after their primary shots. This includes people who are immunocompromised.

For your booster shot, you can get a Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J shot. The CDC recommends the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. But if you had a severe reaction to an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine dose or don’t have access to a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, then you can get the J&J vaccine.

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients

The Moderna vaccine does not contain any food proteins, latex, or preservatives. It does contain mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid).

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

During clinical trials for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, these were some of the common side effects:

  • Pain and swelling on the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the same arm where the injection was given
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

More people felt the side effects after the second dose of the vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine

On Dec. 17, 2021, the CDC announced, "The CDC has updated its recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines with a preference for people to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna). Read CDC’s media statement."


The J&J vaccine is a viral vector vaccine given in one shot. It is available for people 18 and older.

Johnson & Johnson Booster Shots for 18+ and Additional Primary Shots for Immunocompromised People

At this time, an additional shot of the J&J vaccine for people who are immunocompromised has not been recommended or approved. But the CDC does recommend a booster shot for everyone 18 and older who got a J&J shot. You can get it two months after the first shot.

For your booster shot, you can get a Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J shot. The CDC recommends the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. But if you had a severe reaction to an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine dose or don’t have access to a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, then you can get the J&J vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients

The J&J vaccine does not contain any food proteins, latex, or preservatives.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine ingredients

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

During clinical trials for the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, these were some of the common side effects:

  • Pain, redness, and swelling on the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Who Can Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free to everyone. You can get your shot at a local pharmacy, clinic, or vaccination center. Go to vaccines.gov to find a location.

You can get a COVID-19 vaccine if you:

  • Are ages 5 and older
  • Have a medical condition
  • Are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed
  • Are pregnant and lactating (nursing)
  • Have allergies to food, pets, insects, venom, pollen, dust, latex, and oral medicines
  • Have a non-serious allergy to other vaccines or injectable medicines
  • Have a family history of anaphylaxis or any other history of anaphylaxis to anything other than a vaccine or injectable medicine

Your doctor may need to give you more information about the vaccine depending on your condition.

If you have a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), you may be monitored up to 30 minutes after the shot. For everyone else, you will be monitored for 15 minutes after the shot.

Talk with your doctor about risks and benefits before getting a COVID-19 vaccine and get the shots in a clinic or doctor’s office if you have a:

  • Moderate or acute (short-term) illness (such as the flu)
  • History of anaphylaxis to another vaccine or injectable medicines
  • Severe or immediate allergic reaction to previous dose or any ingredient (also called “excipients” or “components”) of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • History of an allergic reaction to PEG or polysorbate

Many people who have a history of PEG or polysorbate allergy have been successfully vaccinated for COVID-19.

According to the CDC, if you are allergic to PEG, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Ask your doctor about getting the J&J shot.

If you are allergic to polysorbate, you should not get the J&J vaccine. Ask your doctor if you can get an mRNA vaccine instead.
If you have a reaction to the first dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/Moderna), talk with your doctor about your options. It is possible to be safely vaccinated by your doctor.

People who currently have or recently had COVID-19 should finish self-isolation and talk to their doctors about when to get the vaccine. You should get vaccinated and boosted even if you have had COVID-19 in the past.

If you received COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment or convalescent plasma while you had COVID-19, wait 90 days after receiving the treatment to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you received either of these treatments to prevent getting COVID-19 after you were exposed to it, you should wait 30 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.



pfizer covid-19 vaccine chart-v2Click here for larger view

What Are the Recommendations for COVID-19 Vaccines for Pregnant People?

If you are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant, you should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant people are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people.1 If you had a recent pregnancy (for at least 42 days following the end of pregnancy), it may also raise your risk for developing severe COVID-19. If you get COVID-19 while pregnant, you are at increased risk for preterm birth (delivering the baby earlier than 37 weeks) and other poor pregnancy outcomes.2

What Do I Need to Know Before I Get My COVID-19 Vaccine?

If you have a history of anaphylaxis, you may be monitored up to 30 minutes after the shot. For everyone else, you will be monitored for 15 minutes after the shot.

Do not take over-the-counter pain medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) before getting a COVID-19 vaccine to reduce side effects if you don’t take these medicines regularly. Taking over-the-counter pain medicines or anti-inflammatories may stop the vaccine from working as it should and reduce its ability to make antibodies. Talk with your doctor about taking pain medicines after you get the shot.

You can get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

If you get allergy shots (immunotherapy) or biologic shots or infusions, talk with your allergist if your shot schedule overlaps with getting the COVID-19 vaccine. There is not a lot of data on allergy shots, biologics, and the COVID-19 vaccine at this time. But to help reduce confusion if you have local reactions or side effects, it may help to spread these out by a few days.

What Do I Do If You Have Side Effects to the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The CDC is asking people to help report any side effects to the COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell the CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from the CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one. The information on how to register for v-safe can be found on the vaccination record card you receive when you get the shot. If you cannot find your card, please contact your health care provider.

What Activities Can I Do Safely If I Am Fully Vaccinated and Boosted Against COVID-19? Do I Have to Wear a Mask?

Once you are fully vaccinated and boosted, you can go back to doing many of the activities you did before the pandemic. But if there is a high rate of COVID-19 in your area, wear a mask in public indoor places, even if you are fully vaccinated and boosted.

Continuing to wear a face mask may have benefits. If you have asthma or allergies, masks can help protect you from pollen and other allergens and irritants that trigger symptoms. Masks also can protect you from respiratory infections like the flu, COVID-19, and even the common cold. Masks provide increased protection for people who are immunocompromised.

The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students (ages 2 and older), and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

If you have a condition or are taking medicines that weaken your immune system, talk with your doctor about which activities are safe to do.

AAFA recommends that you postpone any unnecessary travel.

What Should I Do If I’m Not Fully Vaccinated and/or Boosted Against COVID-19?

If you have not received a COVID-19 shot yet, plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible. If you have not received a COVID-19 shot yet, plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible. If you have received your primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine but have not gotten a booster shot, plan to do so as soon as possible.

People who are unvaccinated and not boosted are at the higher risk of getting COVID-19, spreading it to other people, and becoming hospitalized and/or dying of the virus. If you believe you are not eligible for the vaccine due to your medical conditions, talk with your doctor to see what options may be available to you.

Medical Review January 2022 by Mitchell Grayson, MD

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References
1. Zambrano LD, Ellington S, Strid P, et al. Update: Characteristics of Symptomatic Women of Reproductive Age with Laboratory-Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection by Pregnancy Status — United States, January 22–October 3, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1641–1647. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6944e3
2. Allotey J, Stallings E, Bonet M, Yap M, Chatterjee S, Kew T et al. Clinical manifestations, risk factors, and maternal and perinatal outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 in pregnancy: living systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ 2020; 370 :m3320 doi:10.1136/bmj.m3320

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Images (3)
  • Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine ingredients: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine ingredients
  • Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients: Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients
  • Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19-vaccine-ingredients: Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19-vaccine-ingredients

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Comments (3)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

Please consider immunization if you haven’t yet received your shot. There are a lot of rumors and disinformation floating on the web and social media. If you have questions or fears, please talk to your doctor or pharmacist!

Emelina

Good news!  My sister, my 91 yrs mom & myself, have made appts at our local Walgreen's pharmacy to get the COVID-19 booster shot.  So important as the COVID-19 variants are circulating currently in FL with increased seasonal visitors. 

Whippetartist
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