Vaccines will be important tools in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The vaccine will work for most people, but it will not work for everyone. We do not know yet how long protection will last. We also do not know whether or how often you may need to get revaccinated.
Even after you are vaccinated, you will still need to practice these important COVID-19 prevention steps: stay home if sick, wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep physical distance from others.
Check this page regularly for up-to-date reliable information.
Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines Approved for Emergency Use
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized applications for emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. In clinical trials, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were shown to be safe and be greater than 94% effective at preventing symptoms and decreasing severe COVID-19 infection among study volunteers.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines work by teaching the body to create an immune response for a virus that is not present in the body. Learn more about the mechanics of this type of vaccine.
Both vaccines have shown to have mild to moderate side effects, including soreness or swelling on the arm where you got the shot, headache, body aches, tiredness, and fever. Side effects usually go away within two to three days.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will each require two doses, through shots in the arm, three or four weeks apart (depending on which type of vaccine you get).
- Watch: NYC Health Commissioner Discusses Vaccine Rollout in NYC
- CDC: Vaccine Testing and the Approval Process
When and Where to Get Vaccinated
COVID-19 vaccines may not be widely available to the general public until mid-2021.
The vaccine will be available in stages. It is currently being offered to people who work in health care and other people at increased risk of getting COVID-19 or of severe COVID-19 illness. The vaccine has also been made available to first responders and nursing home residents and staff.
The vaccine will be available to the following groups next:
- Essential workers who interact with the public and who are not able to physically distance
- People at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 because of age or underlying medical conditions
When there are enough vaccine doses available, it will be made available to all New Yorkers.
You will likely be able to get the vaccine at the same places you usually get vaccines, such as:
- Your health care provider
- Community and hospital clinics
- Urgent care centers
Some COVID-19 testing sites and community pop-up locations may also provide vaccinations.
The vaccines currently in trials have not yet been studied in children younger than 16. They will not be available to that age group until more information is available.
Fair and Equitable Vaccinations
The Health Department will ensure there is fair and equitable access to a vaccine. Our plans account for health inequities and disparities faced by underserved communities (PDF). We will make sure the communities hit hardest by the pandemic have access to the vaccine.
The FDA is overseeing the approval process for vaccines. It has released safety and efficacy guidelines for companies working on a vaccine. As these guidelines make clear, the COVID-19 vaccines under development and in trials must follow the same rigorous safety rules as any other new vaccine.
The FDA will only grant Emergency Use Authorization if it decides the benefits of a vaccine outweigh its potential risks.
Officials will continue monitoring the safety of vaccines after they are made available.
Ongoing trials of COVID-19 vaccines have reported mostly mild or moderate symptoms after vaccination, including fever, body aches and soreness at the injection site. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.
In rare cases, people have had a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine. If you have had an allergic reaction to other vaccines in the past, or if you think you may be allergic to ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your health care provider before getting vaccinated.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. mRNA are molecules that provide instructions. They do not contain the virus.
mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to create an immune response so that the body knows how to fight the virus if it is later exposed to the virus. Once your body learns how to create the immune response, it breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA.
- NYC Vaccine Command Center
- NYC Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan — Executive Summary (PDF)
- CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines