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COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Older Adults

Image shows an older man receiving a vaccination shot from a health care professional.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They have been proven to reduce your risk of getting sick from and transmitting the virus. They can also reduce the risk of serious illness or complications if you do contract the virus.

Where to Find the Vaccine

You can access the COVID-19 vaccine at multiple locations statewide. Providers include pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, doctor’s offices, community vaccination sites, and local health departments. Most providers are accepting appointments as well as walk-in visits. There is plenty of vaccine available. You should not have any out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine.

The state's COVID-19 information line, 1-833-427-5634, can help individuals find vaccine providers in their communities. 

Statewide vaccine scheduling tool 
Vaccine locator tool

If you or a loved one are unable to travel to a vaccination provider site, please contact your area agency on aging for assistance. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community or find local contact information. 

For more information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine.

Booster Shots

If you are a fully vaccinated and age 16 or older, you qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. A booster shot increases the strength of your antibody response, makes it more likely that your antibodies will protect against virus variants, and may offer added protection against serious outcomes from COVID-19. When you should get a booster depends on the brand of vaccine you originally received. 

  • If you originally received the Pfizer/Comirnaty vaccine, you are eligible for a booster dose at least five months after receiving the second dose. The Pfizer/Comirnaty vaccine booster is currently approved for individuals age 12 and older.
  • If you originally received the Moderna vaccine, you are eligible for a booster dose at least five months after receiving the second dose. The Moderna vaccine booster is currently approved for individuals age 18 and older. 
  • If you originally received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are eligible for a booster dose at least two months after receiving the initial dose. The CDC recommends the Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna booster shots even if you originally received a Johnson & Johnson shot.

In March 2022, the CDC and FDA authorized an optional second booster shot for people at the highest risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19. A second booster is recommended for:

  • People age 50 and older who received Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna booster shot at least four months ago;
  • People who are severely immunocompromised; and
  • People who received the Johnson & Johnson booster at least four months ago (the second booster should be Moderna or Pfizer/Comirnaty).

You can get your booster shot from any COVID-19 vaccine provider. You do not have to return to your original provider for a booster, and your booster shot does not have to be the same brand as your original shots. However, the CDC does not recommend the Johnson & Johnson product for boosters.

You are encouraged to bring your COVID-19 vaccine card with you when you receive your booster dose. COVID-19 booster shots are covered by Medicare. Side effects from booster shots are similar to those experienced with your original dose or doses, and include temporary pain at the injection site, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, and joint and muscle pain. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider to determine if a booster is right for you.

Learn more about COVID-19 Boosters from the Ohio Department of Health: 

Free COVID-19 At-Home Tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to receive free at-home COVID-19 tests. Order now for delivery to your home from covidtests.gov. If you have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support placing an order, you can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8am to midnight ET, 7 days a week.

Please note, the website and phone number above are currently the only official ways to order free at-home COVID-19 tests from the federal government. Nobody will contact you about this opportunity. Beware of unsolicited emails, text messages, or phone calls offering to sign you up for free tests or requesting information or payment for such tests. 

Why You Should Get Vaccinated

A COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent you from getting COVID-19 and is an important tool to help stop the pandemic. According to the CDC, getting a COVID-19 vaccine has many benefits, including:

  • A vaccine is an added layer of protection that will work with your immune system to fight the virus if you are exposed.
  • All vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19.
  • All vaccines that are still be developed will undergo careful testing and will only be made available if they are shown to make you less likely to get COVID-19.
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.
  • Getting vaccinated also protects those around you, including individuals at higher risk for getting very sick from the disease.
  • As of September, 2021, the majority of individuals being treated for COVID-19 in Ohio hospitals have NOT been vaccinated.

Once you've been fully vaccinated, you can: 

  • Resume activities that you did before the pandemic.
  • Participating in certain indoor and outdoor activities without a mask (except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance).
  • Travel within the United States without getting tested.
  • Avoid testing or self-quarantine after being around someone with COVID-19 (unless you have symptoms).

Common Vaccine Questions and Answers

What is COVID-19?

It is a new illness spreading around the world. It is also called coronavirus. It is a virus making people very sick. 

What is a COVID-19 vaccine?

A vaccine is a medicine. The COVID-19 vaccine is a shot to help your body not get sick from the COVID-19 virus. 

Why is the COVID-19 vaccine important for older people?

Older people are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 than younger people. They may have illnesses that make it hard for their body to fight the disease. Older people who get help from others may also be more likely to be in contact with someone who has and can spread the virus. 

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe? 

Yes. The vaccines were given to a lot of people as a test to show they are okay for people to use.

The COVID-19 vaccine was made in a very short time. Was it tested enough?

Yes. Scientists worked as a team to make and test the COVID-19 vaccines faster. The tests showed that the vaccines are okay for people to use.

Do I have to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is no law that you have to get the vaccine. But, your work or other places may say they want you to have the vaccine before you go there.

Will I get the COVID-19 virus from the COVID-19 vaccine shot?

No. A vaccine will not make you sick with the virus. It will not make you test positive for COVID-19. If you feel bad after your shot, it will not last long.

I had the COVID-19 virus. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The vaccine can help people who have already had COVID-19 stay healthy. It can also help their friends and family stay healthy.

Source: The Ohio State University

Facts About the COVID-19 Vaccine

  • The vaccine is free, though some providers may charge a small fee. Ask about fees before you get a shot. Check with your insurance provider about getting paid back for any fee you have to pay. For people on Medicare, the vaccine is covered with no out-of-pocket costs.
  • The vaccine may have some side effects. It can make your arm sore or you might feel tired or have a fever after getting your shot. Ask your doctor about what could happen when you get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • It is your choice to get the COVID-19 vaccine or not. Consider the benefits:
    • Vaccines boost your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.
    • Vaccines may stop you from getting very sick if you get the virus. 
    • Getting the vaccine may stop you from giving the virus to someone else.
    • Getting vaccinated means that you can safely resume activities you did before the pandemic.
    • As of September, 2021, the majority of individuals getting treated for COVID-19 in Ohio hospitals have NOT been vaccinated.
  • If you have questions about the benefits and risks of the vaccine, talk to your doctor.

Fully Vaccinated People

To be fully vaccinated means that it has been at least two weeks since you received the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If you are fully vaccinated, you should still consider a booster dose (see information above).

People who are fully vaccinated can begin resuming activities that you did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Fully vaccinated people can travel within the United States without getting tested, and do not have to get tested or self-quarantine after being around someone who has COVID-19.

Masks are still required on public transit, in health care settings, and in congregate care settings, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses.
  • Wear masks on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.
  • Watch out for symptoms of COVID-19 - If you experience symptoms, get tested and stay away from others.
  • Talk to your health care provider about other prevention steps that are recommended for your medical conditions and medications.

The guidelines are expected to change as more people become vaccinated and other factors change. Check the CDC website for the latest guidance.

COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal partners have received complaints of scammers using the public’s interest in COVID-19 vaccines to obtain personally identifiable information and money through various schemes. Recognize the warning signs of a scam, take steps to protect yourself, and know what to do if you become a target.

Warning signs of a potential scam

  • Advertisements or offers for access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee;
  • Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a waiting list;
  • Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine;
  • Offers to sell doses of a vaccine in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee;
  • Unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine your eligibility to get the vaccine or participate in a clinical trial;
  • Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified;
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources; or
  • Individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or by email to tell you the government or government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Tips to avoid COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud

  • Visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtain a vaccine through such channels.
  • Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.
  • Do not share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.
  • Do not share pictures of your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card online.
  • Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.
  • Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals. 
  • Use safe practices online, such as keeping your operating system and security software up to date, not opening attachments you did not expect, and not responding to unexpected online requests for personal, medical, or financial information. 

Reporting COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud

If you believe you have been the target of COVID-19 fraud, immediately report it to the Ohio Attorney General at 1-800-282-0515 or online at www.ohioprotects.org/file-a-complaint

Regional Vaccine Information

Use the statewide scheduling tool to locate COVID-19 providers in your area, or access the links below to find local vaccine information and related resources from your area agency on aging. Your area agency can also help if you or a loved one are unable to travel to a vaccination provider site. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community.

Image shows the 12 service regions of Ohio.Region 1 (Southwestern Ohio)
Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton & Warren counties

Region 2 (West Central Ohio)
Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, Preble & Shelby counties

Region 3 (Lower Northwestern Ohio)
Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Mercer, Putnam & Van Wert counties

Region 4 (Northwestern Ohio)
Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa, Paulding, Sandusky, Williams & Wood counties

Region 5 (North Central Ohio)
Ashland, Crawford, Huron, Knox, Marion, Morrow, Richland, Seneca & Wyandot counties

Region 6 (Central Ohio)
Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway & Union counties

Region 7 (Southern Ohio)
Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto & Vinton counties

Region 8 (Southeastern Ohio)
Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry & Washington counties

Region 9 (East Central Ohio)
Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Muskingum & Tuscarawas counties

Region 10A (Eastern Lakefront)
Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain & Medina counties

Region 10B (Akron/Canton Area)
Portage, Stark, Summit & Wayne counties

Region 11 (Northeastern Ohio)
Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning & Trumbull counties