Health Department

Fairfax County, Virginia

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. COVID-19 call center hours are Monday–Friday, 9am–7pm.

703-267-3511
TTY 711

10777 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030

Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H.,
Director of Health

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

How do I make an appointment for a vaccine?

Use Vaccines.gov 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.

Are walk-in appointments available?

Walk-in clinic hours at the Fairfax County Government Center and the Hyland South County Government Center (Mt. Vernon District Office) are temporarily paused. Appointments are now required at these location. An update will be posted here when walk-ins will be accepted again at these locations.

Walk-in vaccination may be available at other community sites like pharmacies.

 

Can caregivers accompany on an appointment?

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.

Do minors need to be accompanied by an adult to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment??

From VDH:

Anyone in Virginia age 5 or 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.

I've already scheduled my appointment, but I am currently in quarantine. What do I do? 

You will need to wait until your quarantine is over before coming in for your second dose. This action will help prevent you from possibly spreading illness to volunteers and staff working the vaccination clinic. 

Go to your appointment confirmation email you received and click the “cancel appointment” link (found near the end of the email). Once you’ve cancelled your appointment, you will receive a cancellation confirmation email which will contain a link to reschedule your appointment. Appointments for second doses are added to the scheduler each week.

While the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose.
 

VACCINE ELIGIBILITY IN FAIRFAX HEALTH DISTRICT

Who is currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Virginia?

All individuals in the Fairfax Health District who are 5 or older are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. 

Can I get vaccinated at a pharmacy?

Residents are encouraged to use Vaccines.gov to search for locations that offer COVID-19 vaccines and then schedule appointments directly with any provider based on the day, time and location that is most convenient for them.

Be aware that each provider may have different processes to sign up to get an appointment.

 

How are you informing people that it is their turn to be vaccinated?

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.

Vaccines for Children 5-11

Where can my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

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 vaccines.gov (www.vacunas.gov) to search for a vaccine appointment.
  • Health Department Vaccination Centers: visit the website to make an appointment, 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
  • Tysons Community Vaccination Center, 7950 Tysons Corner Center, TysonsVisit here or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 711). Appointment assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages.
  • Inova Children Vaccination Clinic: make an appointment for their weekend clinics at the Inova Center for Personalized Health, 8100 Innovation Park Drive, Fairfax.

Is the kids’ vaccine different from the vaccine for ages 12 and up?

The Pfizer-BioNTech (age 5-11) COVID-19 vaccine is now authorized for use in children 5 to 11. The kids’ vaccine is specifically formulated for children and given at a lower dose than the vaccine meant for those over 12. The dose for 5- to 11-year-olds is just one-third the adult-size dose.

It is important that children 5 to 11 receive the COVID-19 vaccine product indicated for their age group.

Given the low risk that COVID-19 poses for children, why not wait to vaccinate my child?

The risk of children getting severely ill from COVID-19 is lower than in adults, but it is not zero.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children now account for as many as 1 in 4 COVID-19 infections. Children with COVID-19 are at risk of getting sick, becoming hospitalized, or in some cases, dying. Children may also develop long-term illness such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) or “long COVID.”

Getting children fully vaccinated helps protect them from becoming seriously ill or developing long-term complications. Vaccination can also help reduce infection in families, schools, and our communities.

If my child has already had a COVID-19 infection, do they still need to be vaccinated?

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.

What side effects are common in children after vaccination?

Common side effects in children 5 to 11 after getting the shot are similar to those seen in adolescents and young adults.
On their arm where they get the shot, kids may experience:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Redness
  • Swelling

They might also experience:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Body aches or muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea or diarrhea
  • Swollen lymph nodes

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.

What should I do if my child gets any of the common COVID-19 vaccine reactions?

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 vsafe.cdc.gov. You can report vaccination side effects to the CDC and receive reminders when it’s time to get the second dose.

Could the COVID-19 vaccine affect my child’s growth or development?

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.

VAMS & VACCINES.GOV

Can I schedule at one of your clinics without using Vaccine.gov?

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.

What is Vaccines.gov?

Vaccines.gov 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. Vaccines.gov is powered by VaccineFinder, in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital.

How does Vaccines.gov work?

Vaccines.gov 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

Why can’t I schedule an appointment on Vaccines.gov or see whether appointments are available?

According to the CDC’s Vaccines.gov webpage, Vaccines.gov 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.

What does it mean if a COVID-19 vaccine is “in stock”?

According to the CDC’s Vaccines.gov 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.

What does it mean if a COVID-19 vaccine is “out of stock”?

According to the CDC’s Vaccines.gov 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. Vaccines.gov is updated every day, so we recommend checking again to find out if the pharmacy or provider has received more vaccine.

Is Vaccines.gov available in languages other than English?

Vaccines.gov 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.

ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINES

Is there an approved COVID-19 vaccine?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for persons ages 16 and older. See the FDA’s Announcement and FAQs.

The vaccine, which will now be marketed under the brand name “Comirnaty”, continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 5 years of age and older, for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised people, and for a single booster dose in eligible people.

Additionally, for logistical reasons, the EUA will continue to cover the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in individuals 16 years of age and older; this use is also now approved.

Are additional vaccines available under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?

Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines available under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA):

  • Pfizer-BioNTech, for individuals 5 through 15 years of age
  • Moderna, for individuals 18 years of age and older.
  • Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) for individuals 18 years of age and older.

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. 

What vaccines are available?

There are three COVID-19 vaccines in use in the United States.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for persons ages 16 and older. This will now be marketed under the brand name “Comirnaty”.

There are currently three vaccines that are authorized by the FDA for use in the United States: 1) Pfizer-BioNTec COVID-19 vaccine, for 5-15 year olds 2) Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and 3) Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. All three vaccines are extremely effective at preventing hospitalization or death from COVID-19.

Are the vaccines safe?

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.
 

How will COVID-19 vaccines protect me and others?

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.

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.

What is in the vaccine?

There are three currently available vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines include a piece of messenger RNA, or mRNA, that your body uses as instructions to make a protein that appears on the surface of the virus. Your immune system reacts to this protein and develops a response without danger of coronavirus infection. This allows your body to start preparing to fight against the virus even before you are exposed. There is no live virus in the vaccine and it is impossible to get COVID-19 from the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a different technology, but one that has been developed over many years for several vaccines. It is not an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer and Moderna. Instead it is a viral vector vaccine, which uses a harmless adenovirus, one of a family of viruses which causes the common cold, as a vector to deliver instructions, in the form of genetic material (a gene), to make a piece of the coronavirus that stimulates our immune response. The vaccine does not cause infection with either COVID-19 or the virus that is used as the vector. The genetic material delivered by the viral vector does not integrate into a person’s DNA.

Vaccine ingredients lists can be found on the manufacturer’s fact sheets:

How is the vaccine administered?

Vaccines currently available will be given by injecting it into the muscle, similar to the flu shot.

The Pfizer-BoiNTech and Moderna vaccines require a second dose which should be administered about three or four weeks after the first dose. Your shot will be recorded on a vaccination card and you will be asked to follow up with a second appointment at the appropriate time. You must receive both doses as scheduled in order to fully benefit from the vaccine’s protection.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine requires only a single dose.

If I have already recovered from COVID-19, do I need the vaccine or am I already protected?

From the CDC (12.28.21):

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

Getting sick with COVID-19 offers some protection from future illness with COVID-19, sometimes called “natural immunity.” The level of protection people get from having COVID-19 may vary depending on how mild or severe their illness was, the time since their infection, and their age. No currently available test can reliably determine if a person is protected from infection.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are effective at preventing COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine gives most people a high level of protection against COVID-19 even in people who have already been sick with COVID-19.

Emerging evidence shows that getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection to your immune system. One study showed that, for people who already had COVID-19, those who do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more than 2 times as likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get fully vaccinated after their recovery.

People who were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma or people who have a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults or children (MIS-A or MIS-C) may need to wait a while after recovering before they can get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Related pages:

If I get the vaccine will I need to quarantine for a period of time after receiving the 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.

Why was use of the J&J vaccine paused?

On April 13, 2021, after six cases of extremely rare but severe cases of blood clots associated with low platelet count were reported in women who had received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, the U.S. CDC and U.S. FDA paused use of the vaccine. This pause allowed the U.S. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to investigate the case reports and assess the safety of the vaccine. 

What did the U.S. CDC and FDA decide after their scientific review of the J&J vaccine?

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.

Will patients need to sign a consent form before the J&J vaccine can be administered?

The consent form for the J&J vaccine has not changed.

What do you do with leftover 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.

What should people with weakened immune systems know?

People who have weakened immune systems are at higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 infection and spreading the infection to others. This includes people whose immunity is lower because of a disease such as cancer; because they have received an organ transplant; or because they take a medication that suppresses their immune system (including chemotherapy or many of the medications used to treat rheumatic conditions).

The good news is that COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations, and death due to Delta variant infection.

Studies show that vaccination is effective at protecting many people who have weakened immune systems. This protection is likely lower than for others because of a weaker immune response to the vaccine; however, even if someone does become ill after vaccination, the infection may be less severe. Because there are many different conditions that lead to weakened immunity, talk with your doctor about your specific condition and getting vaccinated. Vaccination is safe in people regardless of their immune status.

Even after vaccination, people who have a weakened immune system should pay extra attention to all the other measures to prevent COVID-19 infection. This includes wearing a mask when indoors and around others in public; staying 6 feet apart from others they do not live with; avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces; and practicing good handwashing. In addition, family members and care takers who spend time with immunocompromised people should get vaccinated against COVID-19 because if they are protected, they are unlikely to get infected and possibly spread the infection to the person whose immunity is lower.

COVID-19 VACCINE SECOND DOSE

How do I schedule my second dose at a Fairfax County Health Department Clinic?

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 Vaccines.gov.

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 (21 days after your first Pfizer vaccination or 28 days after your first Moderna vaccination). You can find the earliest recommended date on the back of your Vaccination Record Card.

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

Do I need a second dose if I received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?

If you received a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you will need 2 shots to get the most protection. You should get your second shot even if you had side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor told you not to get it. You are only considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your second dose.

COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable. If you received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you should get the same product for your second shot.

People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) after the initial 2 doses. Certain groups of people who received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine are eligible to get a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot. More information about third doses is available on our website.

When should I get my second dose?

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 weeks (21 days) apart.
  • The Moderna vaccine doses should be given 4 weeks (28 days) apart.

You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 4-week interval as possible. However, your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary. You should not get the second dose early. There is currently limited information on the effectiveness of receiving your second shot earlier than recommended or later than 6 weeks after the first shot.

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.

Do I need to get the same vaccine for the second dose?

Yes. Second doses must be the same vaccine from the same manufacturer as the first dose. 

What is the date on the back of my vaccine card?

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.

What if I don’t see an appointment available when it is time for me to get my second dose?

If you received a first dose from the Fairfax County Health Department, a second dose has been allocated for you during the week you are due back (21 days after your first Pfizer vaccination or 28 days after your first Moderna vaccination). You will be able to schedule an appointment for your second dose. Please continue to check for availability as vaccination appointment days and times are frequently refreshed. 

As a reminder, you should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 4-week interval as possible. However, your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose, if necessary.
 

COVID-19 Third Doses

What is the difference between an additional dose and a booster dose?

A “additional dose” refers to administration of an additional vaccine dose when the initial immune response following a primary vaccine series may be insufficient. Studies indicate that some immunocompromised people do not always build the same level of immunity after vaccination the way non-immunocompromised people do and may benefit from an additional dose to ensure adequate protection against COVID-19.

A “booster dose” refers to a dose of vaccine administered when the initial sufficient immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have waned over time.

Are additional (extra) doses of a COVID-19 recommended for people with weakened immune systems?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized and CDC adopted the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) advice to recommend a third (additional) dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for people with moderately or severely weakened immune systems (immunocompromised).

  • People who are immunocompromised can speak to their healthcare provider to help determine if they would benefit from an additional dose.
  • This recommended additional dose applies only to those who received 2 doses of an mRNA vaccine.
  • The third dose should be administered at least 28 days after the second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
  • Individuals 12 and older can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and individuals 18 and older can receive the Moderna vaccine.
  • The third dose should be the same mRNA vaccine as the primary series. However, an alternative mRNA vaccine can be used if the primary series product is not available.
  • Individuals will need to self-attest as having a qualifying condition.

People with weakened immune systems, even those who receive an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine, might not have strong protection against COVID-19 after vaccination and should continue to take additional precautions to prevent COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, watching their distance from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

  • They should also discuss the possibility of monoclonal antibody treatment options with their healthcare provider in case they get infected with or are exposed to COVID-19.
  • Their household members and other close contacts should get fully vaccinated to provide increased protection to their loved ones.

Who is recommended to get an additional dose of the vaccine?

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 a third 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.

When and where can I get a third dose?

Vaccines are readily available throughout Virginia. Individuals who are recommended to receive a third dose can make an appointment or find a walk-in location. Visit vaccines.gov or the Fairfax County Health Department vaccine website to find a location.

Will the health department provide a third dose of all of the vaccines?

Booster doses will be available from healthcare providers, pharmacies, local Health Department clinics and the Community Vaccination Center (CVC) in Tysons. Health Department vaccination dispensing sites will supply the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but do not have the Johnson & Johnson doses. J&J, however, will be available at the CVC in Tysons.

Do I need to prove that I am immunocompromised to receive an additional dose of vaccine?

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.

Can I preregister with the Health Department for a third dose appointment?

No. The Health Department no longer maintains a registration list.

Early in the vaccine roll-out, supply was extremely limited and only a small number of providers offered vaccine, including local health departments. Today, vaccine is widely available throughout the Fairfax Health District. Pharmacies, health systems and health care providers will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations and will remain options for residents when boosters become available.

Residents can visit vaccines.gov to make an appointment when they become eligible for booster shots.

What is the dose size for the additional dose, for significantly immunocompromised individuals?

The dosage size for the third dose is the same as previous doses. The third dose should be the same mRNA vaccine as the primary series. However, an alternative mRNA vaccine can be used if the primary series product is not available.

Who is eligible for a booster dose now?

Individuals ages 12–17 years should get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine booster dose five months after finishing their two-dose primary series.

Individuals ages 18 years and older should get any COVID-19 Vaccine booster dose five months, rather than six months, after finishing their two-dose primary series of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine that has been authorized for use in children and adolescents, ages 5 years and older, and the only vaccine with a booster interval of five months after completion of the initial two-dose series. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen are authorized only for persons 18 years of age and older; the booster dose interval for Moderna remains unchanged at six months after the completion of the initial two-dose series while J&J remains unchanged at two months after completion of the initial one-dose series.

See: COVID-19 Third Doses page.

Why are booster doses important?

All COVID-19 vaccines continue to work very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection over time against mild and moderate disease (called waning immunity). 

A booster dose is important because receiving another dose of the vaccine will boost one’s immunity and increase effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infection. In addition, by increasing protection, there will be less chance of becoming infected and spreading infection to someone else, keeping our whole community safer.

Vaccine Data Dashboard

What information is included on the vaccine data dashboard?

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

  • Total doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered among Fairfax Health District residents;
  • Aggregate number of doses administered by date of vaccination;
  • Number and proportion of residents who’ve received at least one dose;
  • Number and proportion of residents who are fully vaccinated;
  • Number and proportion of residents who who have received a third/booster dose;
  • Vaccination progress by age group, including among adolescents; and
  • Race and ethnicity data among residents who’ve received at least one dose and scheduled/registered through the Vaccination Administration Management System (VAMS).

Health Department Vaccine Cancellations

How do I reschedule or cancel and appointment?

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.

 

CDC Vaccine FAQ

Syringe

 

Virginia Department of Health FAQ

VA Covid

Fairfax Virtual Assistant