We the Patients

Everything You Need to Know About Covid Vaccines in New York

Now that vaccines are becoming more available, it could be your turn to receive the Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If you have questions about getting your vaccine in New York, we have answers!

Who can get the vaccine?

As of now, vaccines are available for these New Yorkers:

  • People over 16 years of age
  • In-person teachers, school staff, and child care workers
  • Correction staff
  • First responders
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers
  • Licensed taxi/limousine drivers
  • Restaurant workers
  • People working/living in group homeless shelters or residences
  • People with underlying health conditions
  • Public-facing government/public employees
  • Public-facing non-profit workers
  • Essential in-person and public-facing building service workers

Why should you get vaccinated?

Although it’s not legally required, receiving a Covid vaccine could protect your life among countless others. Vaccines inject small, controlled doses of a virus, “teaching” your body to fight against it in the future. They are statistically proven to be effective and essential to ending this global pandemic.

Does the vaccine cost money?

Nope! The vaccine is free for everyone, even if you don’t have insurance. If you do have insurance it may be billed to you, but you aren’t responsible for payment.

Are these vaccines safe?

The CDC has declared these vaccines both safe and effective. All companies involved used methods that have been in development for years, allowing them to start vaccine development early on in the pandemic. In order to speed up production, developers didn’t skip any steps and instead conducted some steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster. Extensive clinical trials have been reviewed by the FDA among other organizations, certifying vaccine efficacy and safety. And don’t worry—you can’t contract Covid from the vaccine!

Which vaccine should I get?

In short, it doesn’t matter! In comparison to Moderna and Pfizer, the Johnson &Johnson vaccine is just as effective in preventing hospitalization and death. Although you might have heard the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is only 67% effective compared to 95% for the other two, Johnson & Johnson trials were actually performed in multiple countries. Different countries have been impacted differently by the virus, for example with different variants of Covid, meaning that they also yielded different trial results. In fact, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be a game changer—it requires only a single shot and requires less refrigeration, so it’s easier to distribute!

Will I get sick from the vaccine?

Side effects are common following both doses, in particular the second. They could include flu-like headaches or tiredness, and you could also experience soreness where you receive the shot. If you’re worried, you can check with your health care provider for more details.

What if I have existing health conditions?

In general, you can still get vaccinated while pregnant or breastfeeding, have an underlying condition, are immunocompromised, or have allergies. However, always check with your health care provider first! If you have Covid now, you should wait until you recover or after quarantining for 10 days before you get your vaccine.

How do I get the vaccine?

To get vaccinated, you’ll need to make an appointment—no walk-ins! Available locations can range from hundreds of pharmacies and hospitals to State-run sites throughout New York. If you’re eligible, you can view locations and make an appointment at vaccinefinder.nyc.gov or by calling 877-VAX4NYC for assistance in multiple languages. For State-operated vaccine sites, visit  am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov or call 833-NYS-4-VAX.

Seniors can also make appointments to get their vaccine at local pharmacies. New Yorkers over 60 years old can schedule appointments at pharmacies by visiting their websites (e.g., https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccinehttps://www.walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19https://www.riteaid.com/Covid-19).

Moderna and Pfizer vaccines consist of two injections administered around 3-6 weeks apart. Once you get your first shot, your second shot will automatically be ordered for you. You’ll schedule your second shot when you get your first, and you’ll have to get your second shot at the same location as the first. You will also receive a Covid vaccine card after your shot—don’t lose it! Make sure to bring it to your second appointment, you’ll need it as proof that you’ve been vaccinated.

Or if you receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you’ll only need one appointment for one injection.

What documentation do I need to get vaccinated?

You’ll have to provide proof that you’re in one of the eligible groups to receive the vaccine. If you’re eligible based on employment, you’ll need to attest that your job requires in-person contact. You’ll also need proof of employment in New York, such as an employee ID card, a letter from your employer/affiliated organization, or a recent pay stub.

Or, if you’re eligible by age, you’ll need to show two things: first, proof of age. This could be driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, residence card, Certificate of Naturalization, etc. You’ll also need proof of residency in New York, which could be state-issued ID, statement from a landlord, current rent receipt/lease, mortgage records, etc. Or, you could provide two of the following: a statement from another person, current mail, or school records.

If you’re eligible by an underlying health condition, you’ll need a doctor’s note, some form of medical documentation, or a signed certificate attesting that you have a qualifying condiiton.

Once you’ve scheduled an appointment, you’ll need to complete the New York State Covid-19 Vaccine form to prove your eligibility. You can fill this at online at forms.ny.gov/s3/vaccine.

If you’re asked to provide your Social Security Number, it’s likely a scam! You will not be asked for your Social Security Number.

When you go to your appointment, you should make sure to bring a health insurance card (if you have one) and your proof of eligibility. If it’s your second appointment, bring the vaccine card you received from your first appointment! If you have Medicare, you’ll need to bring your Medicare card even if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Can I get the vaccine if I’m not a US citizen?

Yes! If you’re in an eligible group, you can get the vaccine no matter what your immigrations status is. You may need proof of employment, age, or residency, but you will not be asked for proof of citizenship or immigration status. Your vaccination status will not be share with ICE and will in no way impact your immigration status. You also won’t be considered a “public charge” for receiving the vaccine.

What if I can’t travel to a vaccine administration site?

In NYC, you can be vaccinated in your home! Other counties in New York are also beginning to offer in-home vaccinations, so be sure to check for updates on your county.

In-home vaccinations (Johnson & Johnson) are available for eligible NYC residents who are fully homebound, have not been vaccinated, and do not have access to a vaccination program. If you’re eligible, you can express your interest using this form: forms.cityofnewyork.us/f/homebound. The City will contact you to discuss eligibility for the program.

If you can’t access or fill out the form, you can get help from the Vaccine Reservation Call Center at (877) 829-4692.

The NYC Department for the Aging, Medicaid health plans, and the Housing Recovery Operations office will also reach out to thousands of seniors about eligibility and possible enrollment for the program. The Fire Department will then dispatch field teams to vaccinate people over 65 in buildings identified by the Department for the Aging and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

If I already had Covid, should I still get vaccinated?

Yes, definitely! It’s possible to get Covid more than once, and the vaccine can even boost the protection you gained after natural infection. However, you should consult with your health care provider to make sure you get vaccinated at the right time.

If I got vaccinated, can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing?

Even if you got your vaccine, you should still follow these practices! At this point, we don’t have enough information to know when we can stop wearing masks or physical distancing. So for now, stay vigilant and keep following CDC guidelines!

How can I protect myself from Covid scams?

Now that vaccines are being distributed, scammers have been taking advantage of the pandemic. Here’s how you can protect yourself:

  • Don’t share your Medicare Number or Social Security Number! If someone asks for either, it’s a scam.
  • You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine, and you can’t pay to get early access.
  • Don’t share your personal/financial information if someone contacts you promising you a vaccine for free.

Need more help?

You can reach out to CSSNY’s Community Health Advocates to help you out with the vaccination process. The Community Health Advocates Helpline at 888-614-5400 is open Mon-Fri from 9am-4pm.

We’re always receiving new updates, so make sure to stay up to date! You can find up-to-date info at https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov or http://www.nyc.gov/vaccinecommandcenter.

Check out CSSNY’s full fact sheet here.