Health Department

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administration office at 10777 Main Street in Fairfax is open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. Clinic services are not offered at this location.
703-246-2411 TTY 711
10777 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H.
Director of Health

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

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Updated October 13, 2022

Vaccine Eligibility & Staying Up to Date

All individuals in the Fairfax Health District who are 6 months and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The date on the back of your vaccine card is the earliest recommended date to receive your second dose. It is not an appointment date. If there is no date on the back of your card, please plan for your second dose based on the recommended intervals. The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible.

  • The Pfizer vaccine doses should be given 3–8 weeks apart. Note: for those 6 months to 4 years, a third primary dose is given at least two months later. 
  • The Moderna vaccine doses should be given 4–8 weeks apart

Talk to your healthcare or vaccine provider about the timing for the 2nd dose in your primary series.

  • People ages 6 months through 64 yearsand especially males ages 12 through 39 years, may consider getting the 2nd primary Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax 8 weeks after the 1st dose.
    • A longer time between the 1st and 2nd primary doses may increase how much protection the vaccines offer, and further minimize the rare risk of myocarditis and pericarditis.
  • Anyone wanting protection due to high levels of community transmission, people ages 65 years and older, or people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, should get the second dose of:
    • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 3 weeks (or 21 days) after the first dose.
    • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine 4 weeks (or 28 days) after the first dose.
    • Novavax COVID-19 vaccine 3 weeks (or 21 days) after the first dose.

Please be sure to follow this guidance when you are scheduling your second dose appointment because you may see appointments available that are too early or too late for you.

If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system), you are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death. Additionally, your immune response to COVID-19 vaccination may not be as strong as in people who are not immunocompromised. As with vaccines for other diseases, you are protected best when you stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.

Moderately to severely immunocompromised people” includes people with a range of conditions, such as recipients of organ or stem cell transplants, people with advanced or untreated HIV infection, active recipients of treatment for cancer, people who are taking some medications that weaken the immune system, and others. A full list of conditions and factors to consider for making this determination can be found in CDC’s clinical considerations guidance.

If an individual has questions about an additional dose, they should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them. Additional information is also available from the CDC.

People 5 years and older are eligible for a booster dose. 

You are best protected when you are up to date on your vaccines. Being up to date means that you have received all doses in the primary series and at least one booster dose when you are eligible.

Being up to date is important because studies show protection against COVID-19 infection decreases over time. This means that people who have not received a booster dose are more likely to get sick with COVID-19 and possibly spread it to others.

COVID-19 vaccine recommendations are based on three things:

  1. Your age
  2. The vaccine you first received, and
  3. The length of time since your last dose.

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines.

For current guidance about when to get a booster dose see: Stay Up to Date with Your Vaccines.

Information about booster doses is also available from the CDC.

Up to date means you have completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended for you by CDC.

Fully vaccinated means a person has received their primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying. As with other vaccine-preventable diseases, you are protected best from COVID-19 when you stay up to date with the recommended vaccinations, including recommended boosters.

See the guidance for being up to date on your vaccines.

It is recommended that people remain up to date with their vaccines, which means you have completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended for you by CDC.

COVID-19 vaccine recommendations are based on three things:

  1. Your age
  2. The vaccine you first received, and
  3. The length of time since your last dose.

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines.

For current guidance about when to get a booster dose see: Stay Up to Date with Your Vaccines.


A booster dose refers to another dose of a vaccine that is given to someone after a specified time following their primary series. Boosters are needed because protection against COVID-19 infection decreases over time (this is called waning immunity). 

An additional dose, or additional primary dose, refers to administration of another vaccine dose administered to someone who has a moderately or severely compromised immune system. Studies show that some immunocompromised people do not build the same level of immunity after vaccination a non-immunocompromised people and may benefit from an additional dose increase protection against COVID-19.

See booster dose and additional dose guidance.

The CDC does not recommend mixing products for a two dose primary vaccine series or an additional primary dose. If you received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you should get the same product when you need a second shot or additional primary dose.

The vaccine used for the additional primary dose for those people with moderate to severe immune compromise should be same as the vaccine used for the primary vaccine series.

However, mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines is allowed for booster shots for people ages 18 years and older.

You should get your second shot even if you have side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get it.

When people receive their vaccine at the Health Department, they are given a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, which is just a bit larger than a standard business card. That date on the back of your card is the earliest recommended date to receive your second dose. Depending on the vaccine, this date will be either three weeks (Pfizer-BioNTech) or four weeks (Moderna) later.

The date on the back of your vaccination record card is NOT an appointment date.

The Fairfax County Health Department uses a variety of ways to disseminate information, including: blog posts, website updates, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Nextdoor), English and Spanish text alerts, a countywide mailing to all homes, flyers, news media (TV, radio, newspapers and blogs), videos in multiple languages, working with our Outreach team in the community, and more.

If you were vaccinated against COVID-19 more than five months ago and have not yet received a booster, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) may send you a voice or text message reminding you to make an appointment. The message will read, “Virginia Department of Health records indicate you are eligible for a Booster COVID-19 vaccine. To schedule an appointment visit or call (877) 829-4682. Please disregard this message if you have already received your Booster.” The message will also be sent in Spanish.

The VDH initiative is part of a state-wide effort to increase booster uptake among residents. 

COVID-19 vaccine boosters are recommended for everyone 12 years or older who completed their primary vaccination series at least five months ago. If you received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago, you are eligible to receive a booster of either the Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccine. If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received three doses of Pfizer or Moderna at least three months ago, you, too, are eligible for a booster. Some individuals are now eligible for second COVID-19 booster.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), boosters are needed to improve protection against COVID-19 infection. After getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus decreases over time, in part due to new variants.  Recently published studies from multiple U.S. states show that getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose significantly improves protection against infection, emergency department visits and hospitalization caused by Omicron and Delta variant infection.

VDH will use contact information provided during your initial appointment sign up. However, because this information may not be complete, not everyone eligible for a booster will receive a voice or text message. If you think you may be eligible for a booster, please contact your healthcare provider or contact the VDH call center at 877-829-4682 for a review of your vaccination record.

Vaccines for Children

There are multiple places to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Fairfax, including:

  • Pediatric and Family Medicine Providers: call your child’s doctor to make an appointment.
  • Pharmacies, grocery stores, and urgent care facilities: visit ( to search for a vaccine appointment. Note: current Virginia law limits the ages of children to whom pharmacists can administer vaccine to those older than 3 years old. Call first to check availability and the age groups that could be vaccinated in pharmacies based on the provider available.
  • Health Department Vaccination Centers: visit the website to make an appointment or find walk-in hours, or call 703-324-7404 if you need assistance.
    • Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, 22035
    • Mount Vernon District Office (Gerry Hyland Government Center), 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, 22309

The COVID-19 vaccines for children have the same active ingredients as the vaccines given to adults. However, children receive a smaller, age-appropriate dose that is the right size for them. The smaller doses were rigorously tested and found to create the needed immune response for each age group. Your child should get the vaccine made for their age group.

While children are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, the effects of the virus are unpredictable. If infected with COVID-19, children can potentially become very ill, have short- and long-term health conditions, and spread COVID-19 to loved ones, and others at school and in the community.

Getting eligible children vaccinated can help prevent them from getting really sick even if they do get infected and help prevent serious short- and long-term complications of COVID-19.

Vaccinating children can also give parents greater confidence in their children participating in childcare, school, and other activities.

Yes. Even if your child has had an infection, they will benefit from vaccination. Compared with the natural immunity that results from previous infection, vaccination provides stronger and broader protection against the virus and its potential long-term effects.

Younger children may experience fewer side effects after COVID-19 vaccination than teens or young adults. For children 4 years and older, side effects are more common after the second dose and can include:

  • Pain, swelling, and redness in the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes

For children 3 years and younger, common side effects can include:

  • Pain where the shot was given
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Irritability or crying
  • Sleepiness
  • Loss of appetite

Side effects mean that the shot is working. It’s making the body’s immune system create antibodies to fight the virus if a future exposure occurs. Side effects are typically mild and go away within a few days.

Find more information about COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects in Children and Teens.

Over-the-counter non-aspirin pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help reduce most side effects. These medications should only be taken after — not before — your child gets the shot. Please consult your child’s health care provider before giving these medications.
Contact a health care provider if:

  • Redness or tenderness where your child got the shot increases after 24 hours.
  • Side effects are severe or persist beyond a few days.

Remember to enroll your child with v-safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s after vaccination health checker, at You can report vaccination side effects to the CDC and receive reminders when it’s time to get the second dose.

No. There is no reason to believe that the COVID-19 vaccine available in the United States will affect your child’s growth or development, including puberty, brain development, or fertility.

COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

Use to search for locations that offer COVID-19 vaccines and then schedule directly with any provider.

To schedule an appointment at a Fairfax County Health Department clinic, use the scheduling system: Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).  

Pop-up clinics are also taking place throughout the Fairfax Health District. See times and locations.

Appointments strongly encouraged, but limited walk-in service is available in the following locations.

Walk-in service is available at the Fairfax County Government Center and the Hyland South County Government Center (Mt. Vernon District Office) vaccine clinics. For more details and pop-up vaccine clinics, please visit this page.

If you received your first dose from a Fairfax County Health Department clinic and/or would like to schedule your second dose with us, please using our scheduling system Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). You can also search for other providers who offer the COVID-19 vaccine using

The Health Department does not send email reminders before someone is due for their second dose prompting them to schedule an appointment.

When scheduling your second dose, please be sure to make your appointment no earlier than the recommended interval. You can find the earliest recommended date on the back of your Vaccination Record Card. Please be sure to follow this guidance when you are scheduling your second dose appointment because you may see appointments available that are too early (or too late) for you.

If you need assistance scheduling your second dose, please contact our Vaccine Call Center at 703-324-7404.

Yes. One caregiver is welcome to join on an appointment if assistance is needed. Please note that caregivers will not be offered vaccine. Only those who meet the criteria and have an appointment will be offered vaccine.

From VDH:

Anyone in Virginia age 6 months and older is eligible for a FREE COVID-19 vaccine. While anyone over 16 can schedule an appointment for a vaccine, it may take some time for an appointment to become available near you.

Minors in the Commonwealth of Virginia may not consent to immunizations to prevent disease. The Commonwealth does allow someone acting “in loco parentis” per:§ 32.1-46, which covers  vaccination in accordance with the Immunization schedule developed by and published by the  Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the  American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Current COVID-19 vaccines have been released under an Emergency Use Authorization. In an effort to maintain consistency with similar approaches to vaccination, a minor may present for  COVID-19 vaccination with either a parent, guardian, or someone standing in loco parentis.

There are some exceptions to this practice. Except for the purposes of sexual sterilization, any minor who is or has been married shall be deemed an adult for the purpose of giving consent to surgical and medical treatment.

For minors getting vaccinated at VDH sponsored or supported community events and health department clinics: The parent or guardian does not have to be present at the time of  vaccination, but someone acting in loco parentis must accompany the minor.

For minors getting vaccinated at VDH sponsored or supported school vaccination events: Clinics occurring during the school day while school is in session and fully staffed do require parental consent but do not require the presence of a parent, guardian, or someone acting in loco parentis.

No. There is no need for individuals to provide medical documentation or proof. However, clinic staff may ask individuals if they have a moderate or severe immunocompromising condition.


Yes. You can search for an appointment date, time and location using the scheduling system we are using: Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS)

We encourage you to create an account so that you can easily manage your appointment and schedule your second dose. You will also be able to download a certificate of your vaccination status after you receive your second dose. All automatically generated emails related to your appointment will come from this system.

You will also need to complete a prevaccination questionnaire before you receive a vaccine. You will be required to answer questions about your health and acknowledge receipt of information about the vaccine. This questionnaire can be completed approximately 24 hours before your appointment in VAMS.

If you need help scheduling, contact our call center at 703-324-7404. is a free, online service where users can search for pharmacies and providers that offer vaccination. Information about where COVID-19 vaccines are available is provided directly by pharmacies and providers, in collaboration with states, and is updated daily. is powered by VaccineFinder, in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital. displays locations that have available doses from approved vaccine providers across the county, including the Health Department, pharmacies, hospitals, and some private practices.

  1. Click the blue Find COVID-19 Vaccine box
  2. If you have a preferred manufacturer due to allergies or other reasons, you can select those manufacturer(s) using the checkboxes above your zip code 
  3. Enter your zip code and select a search radius (the distance you are willing to travel)
  4. Click blue “in stock” circle at location you want to schedule an appointment
  5. You will be redirected to the provider's online scheduling system
  6. Check appointment availability at the provider's locations
  7. Schedule appointment on the day, time and location that is most convenient for you

According to the CDC’s webpage, only displays information about whether a pharmacy or provider has vaccine in stock. To check appointment availability, you will need to visit that pharmacy or provider page directly. After you enter your zip code and search radius, select the provider and then follow the instructions at the top of the page.

According to the CDC’s webpage, if a pharmacy or provider reports that COVID vaccine is “in stock,” it means the location has reported vaccines are available within the last 72 hours. Follow the links provided by the location to schedule an appointment. Vaccine availability is subject to change.

According to the CDC’s webpage, if a pharmacy or provider reports that COVID-19 vaccine is “out of stock,” it means the location has reported that vaccine is not available or has not updated vaccine stock status within the last 72 hours. is updated every day, so we recommend checking again to find out if the pharmacy or provider has received more vaccine. is currently available available in English and Spanish. Users can switch languages on their browsers as an alternative.

If you need assistance in another language or are not able to schedule an appointment online at a Fairfax County Health Department clinic, contact our Vaccine Call Center at 703-324-7404.

To cancel or reschedule an appointment, please visit VAMS and click the Manage Appointment button. If you need assistance, please call our call center: 703-324-7404.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted full approval for two COVID-19 vaccines.

Four COVID-19 vaccines are approved or authorized in the United States:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Novavax
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) (However, CDC recommends that the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine only be considered in certain situations, due to safety concerns.)

An emergency use authorization (EUA) enables medical products, including vaccines, to be used during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic following rigorous testing and scientific review. For an EUA to be issued for a vaccine, the FDA must determine that the manufacturing process ensures quality and consistency and that the known and potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh the known and potential risks. While formal approval is a process that will take additional months to secure, the vaccines have proved safe and effective in large clinical trials and no corners were cut in the development or review of the vaccines. 

See more information.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. Learn more about the Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines.

COVID-19 can be a severe or fatal disease, even in young, healthy people. The risks from COVID-19 illness are greater than the possible risks from receiving the vaccine, therefore, when you are eligible for vaccination, it is strongly recommended you receive the vaccine. If you have specific questions about whether or not you should receive the vaccine when it is available, please contact your primary care provider.

For general vaccine information you can contact our call center at 703-267-3511.

All three vaccines are extremely effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. The authorized vaccines work differently, but each stimulate an immune response, which produces antibodies. These antibodies protect us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

All currently approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and reduce your risk of severe illness. Vaccination can reduce the spread of disease, which helps protect those who get vaccinated and the people around them.

While vaccines are very effective in preventing COVID-19, they are just one tool. Even for those who have been vaccinated, a combination of actions is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. After getting the vaccine, it will still be important to adhere to all health and safety recommendations from the CDC and Virginia Department of Health.

There are four approved or authorized vaccines in the United States.

Learn more about the types of COVID-19 vaccines available.

From the CDC (10.13.22):

You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you already had COVID-19.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19. You may consider delaying your vaccine by 3 months from when your symptoms started or, if you had no symptoms, when you received a positive test.

People who already had COVID-19 and do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after their recovery.

Learn more about the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

No. The vaccine does not contain a live virus. It only contains a piece of the genetic code for the spike protein, which protects your body from the virus. It cannot give you COVID-19.

After an 11-day pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine to review scientific and case data related to extremely rare cases of severe blood clots, the U.S. CDC and FDA authorized providers to resume use of the J&J vaccine on April 23, 2021.

The pause was instituted after reports of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals following administration of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. During the pause, medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC examined available data to assess the risk of thrombosis involving the cerebral venous sinuses, or CVST (large blood vessels in the brain), and other sites in the body (including but not limited to the large blood vessels of the abdomen and the veins of the legs) along with thrombocytopenia, or low blood platelet counts. The teams at FDA and CDC also conducted extensive outreach to providers and clinicians to ensure they were made aware of the potential for these adverse events and could properly manage and recognize these events due to the unique treatment required for these blood clots and low platelets, also known as thrombosisthrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

Following their scientific review, U.S. CDC and FDA determined the following:

  • Use of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine should be resumed in the United States.
  • The FDA and CDC have confidence that this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.
  • The FDA has determined that the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.
  • At this time, the available data suggest that the chance of TTS occurring is very low, and the FDA and CDC will remain vigilant in continuing to investigate this risk.
  • Health care providers administering the vaccine and vaccine recipients or caregivers should review the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) and Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers, which have been revised to include information about the risk of this syndrome, which has occurred in a very small number of people who have received the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

We do everything possible to avoid vaccine wastage and have a strategic plan for how to use every dose. If stored in proper cold chain, vials that have not been opened are good for 30 days when refrigerated. Once a vial is opened, it must be used within 6 hours. At the Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccination sites, we know how many doses will be dispensed each day since vaccine is distributed by appointment. Currently, we experience very few no-shows at our sites. In addition, vaccinators pull doses from a shared pool of vials throughout the day to ensure that as the end of day nears, they are pulling doses from vials already opened. Our agency’s senior pharmacist provides vaccine management protocols to minimize waste. These are the same vaccination protocols in place for other vaccines that the Health Department distributes widely to the general public every day.

Vaccine Data Dashboard

The Vaccine Data Dashboard highlights key indicators of progress and status in the Fairfax Health District.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant