COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free.

COVID-19 vaccines are available for free to everyone age 5 and older living in the United States, regardless of immigration or insurance status. Getting vaccinated is the best way to help protect people from COVID-19. Get vaccinated if you haven't. If you are fully vaccinated, get a booster when you are eligible.

How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

You can also check with your local health department or local news for additional information where vaccines are available in your area.


COVID-19 Vaccine Milestones

May


FDA expanded eligibility for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to allow a single booster dose for children 5 through 11 years of age.


March


FDA authorized the second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for adults ages 50 years and older and certain immunocompromised individuals.


January


FDA approved the second COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA), which was previously known as Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine; the approved vaccine will be marketed as Spikevax for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older.


HHS Secretary issued a directive to expand eligibility for children ages 12 through 15 years to receive a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and to allow a third vaccine dose for immunocompromised children 5 through 11 years of age.


December


HHS Secretary issued a directive to expand eligibility for adolescents ages 16 and 17 to receive a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.


November


HHS Secretary issued a directive to expand eligibility for all adults ages 18 and older to receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines.


A joint letter from HHS Secretary Becerra and Education Secretary Cardona is issued about how schools can support COVID-19 vaccination for children.


HHS Secretary issued a directive to expand eligibility for children five years and older to receive an age-appropriate dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.


October


FDA authorized the emergency use (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 to include children 5 through 11 years of age.


HHS Secretary issued a directive on Moderna and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine boosters*


FDA amended the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) to allow for a single booster dose the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine. FDA also authorized the use of heterologous (or "mix-and-match") booster dose of an available vaccine in eligible individuals following completion of primary vaccination with a different COVID-19 vaccine.


September


HHS Secretary issued a directive to allow a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to certain populations.


FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) to allow a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be administered at least six months after completion of the vaccine's primary series in certain populations.


August


FDA approved the first COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA), which was previously known as Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.


May


FDA amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age.


April


The White House announced that all people age 16 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.


March


Acting HHS Secretary issued a directive to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Americans* by May 1, 2021.


Acting HHS Secretary directed that teachers, school staff, and child care workers are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations*.


February


FDA issued the third EUA for use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in persons aged 18 years and older for the prevention of COVID-19.


December


FDA issued the second EUA for use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in persons aged 18 years and older for the prevention of COVID-19.


The first deliveries of the COVID-19 vaccines began.


FDA issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in persons aged 16 years and older for the prevention of COVID-19.


COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Authorization

The federal government has been working since the pandemic started to develop, manufacture, and distribute safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

Years before the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists were already studying coronaviruses to find out how to protect against them. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, researchers were able to come up with vaccines for this new virus much faster because of work that was already happening.

FDA Authorization

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews and evaluates COVID-19 vaccines for quality, safety, and effectiveness. The FDA then issues Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for certain vaccines that meet rigorous, science-based standards. The FDA determines that these vaccines are safe and effective for public use.

CDC Recommendation

After the FDA authorizes the emergency use of a vaccine, an independent panel of medical and health experts called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) provides recommendations and guidance to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the use of the vaccine.

FDA Approval

When the FDA approves a vaccine, it must undergo the agency's standard approval process for reviewing the quality, safety and effectiveness. The FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research conducts an analysis of the benefits and risks to ensure the vaccine meets the FDA's standards for approval.

Find vaccine overviews, safety information, and ingredient lists:


Building Vaccine Confidence

Some people have questions before they get vaccinated. We are working to meet people where they are and help them understand that vaccines are safe, effective, and the best way to combat COVID-19. If you want to do more to build vaccine confidence in your community, join the COVID-19 Community Corps, a nationwide, grassroots network of local voices and trusted community leaders.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

During the COVID-19 pandemic, each state, tribe, and territory received allocations of vaccines and developed its own plan for distributing the vaccine to people in their jurisdiction.

Vaccinations in the United States began on December 14, 2020.

Tribal health programs and Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) decided to receive vaccines either through the Indian Health Service (IHS) or through the State. To better understand the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native, HHS initiated tribal consultation in September 2020 to seek input from tribal leaders on COVID-19 vaccination planning for Indian Country.

To ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the federal government stood up programs to reach high-risk communities directly and quickly.

  • The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program sent doses to 21 pharmacy partners with over 40,000 activated stores, 40% of which are located in high-risk zip codes.
  • The Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program allocates doses directly to community-based health centers who sign up to receive and administer COVID-19 vaccines. The program is open to more than 1,400 health centers nationwide. Over 91% of these health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • The Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution (RHCVD) Program distributes doses directly to Rural Health Clinics in medically-underserved rural communities.

Vaccine Data

As more and more people get their vaccines, you can track the total number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered in the United States.

Map of the United States with each state a different shade of blue or green reflecting the percentage of the population that is vaccinated in that state.


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Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed