The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has full FDA approval for individuals ages 16 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available under emergency use authorization. You should not have any out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine.
Vaccines are widely available at many retail pharmacies, community clinics, local health departments, and dedicated clinics. Many locations are taking walk-ins with no appointment necessary. The state's COVID-19 information line, 1-833-427-5634, can help individuals find vaccine providers in their communities.
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.
Vaccine Information for Older Ohioans
On Sept. 22, 2021, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to allow for a single booster dose to be administered to adults age 65 and older at least six months after completion of the original 2-dose regimen. The booster authorization also applies to adults under age 65 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 illness or who are frequently exposed to the virus. More guidance on who should receive the Pfizer booster is expected soon.
Booster shots for individuals who have received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not yet recommended.
The CDC recommends that individuals who are immunocompromised - that is, people who have medical conditions or are in certain situations that reduce their ability to fight off illness - should talk to their health care providers about receiving an additional dose of the vaccine.
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.
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 the virus and could give it to them.
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
- Many COVID-19 vaccines are being made. Most require you to get 2 shots. You get the second shot 3 to 4 weeks after you got the first one. The second shot is like a booster shot. You need to get both shots for the vaccine to work.
- 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.
- 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 resume activities you did before the pandemic.
- If you have questions about the benefits and risks of the vaccine, talk to your doctor.
After the First Dose (Pfizer and Moderna)
You had a COVID-19 vaccine shot. Great! What do you do now?
- Make sure you get both shots of your COVID-19 vaccine. You should get a second shot about 3 or 4 weeks after the first.
- Follow directions given to you as follow-up after your vaccine shot. This may mean making time for rest. You may also be asked report the way you feel after you get the vaccine.
- Take steps to keep away from germs. Do this even after you have had the vaccine. Everyone needs to do their part to stop the virus from spreading.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when you are around other people.
- Wash your hands often.
- Make sure you have at least 6 feet of space between you and other people whenever you can.
- See people outdoors instead of indoors.
- Do not go to places with large crowds.
Visit the CDC website to read more about what to expect after your vaccine shot.
Source: The Ohio State University
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.
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 plances, 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 early 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 obtaining 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.
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