Long after the pandemic lockdowns, COVID-19 is still a part of everyday life. But thanks to free COVID-19 vaccines, life is becoming more “normal” again. The lowered chances of dangerous side effects to the immune system have proven the effectiveness of the vaccines. With recent studies announcing no need for a fourth vaccine, now is a great time to schedule your appointment to get fully vaccinated and protected from the virus.
The information below is a comprehensive guide to understanding everything there is to know about the vaccines series, the booster shot, and how to get a vaccine appointment.
Where can I get a COVID-19 Vaccine and Booster?
There are many places to get COVID vaccines in Houston. For most locations, you will need to call or go online to schedule your appointment, but some have walk-in hours available. You should check out the information available online or call ahead to check they have the time and supplies at your choice of site before leaving to get your vaccine.
Primary Care Clinics
Your regular primary care clinic should be equipped to help you receive vaccines as well. Patients are recommended to call ahead and double-check if supplies are ready. If you would like to visit Hillcroft Physicians P.A., we provide Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots to patients 18 and older on Fridays.
The Harris County Public Health Department has mobile vaccination sites, and all the information on the date, time, address of these sites can be found on their website.
Most hospitals also have vaccines available to administer. Walk-in appointments at the Houston Methodist are welcomed Monday through Thursday from the hours of 8 A.M. and 5 P.M. On Fridays, the hours are 8 A.M. to noon.
A majority of pharmacies can administer the COVID-19 vaccine and booster. The list includes but is not limited to CVS, Walgreens, Target, Randalls, H-E-B, and Kroger. Patients can call to schedule their appointment or check if they can register online on the pharmacy website.
Fixed Vaccination Sites
The City of Houston’s Emergency Operations Center has both fixed and pop-up vaccination sites listed on their website.
In-home vaccinations are available to those who qualify, including older adults, people with disabilities, and veterans. Call the number provided on the City Of Houston’s Emergency Operation’s website to check if you sign up for the service.
What are the Benefits of Getting Vaccinated?
The Houston Health Department has put the virus at a Threat Level 1, which means outbreaks are still present and worsening. At this level, the unvaccinated are advised to avoid all gatherings until fully vaccinated, and they should also continue to mask and practice social distancing while in public spaces. Vaccinated individuals are encouraged to follow local public health guidance on masking and social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been keeping track of the vaccines’ effectiveness. Several methods are utilized by them to study vaccine efficacy, including randomized controlled trials. Once out in the public, data is taken in with the real-world conditions through observational studies. These studies continue as viruses evolve into variants.
It is still possible to get COVID-19 because of a vaccine breakthrough infection because no vaccine is 100% effective at avoiding illness. However, they help prevent people from becoming severely ill, avoid hospitalization, and minimize deaths. Becoming fully vaccinated means keeping your spouse, children, parents, and community members safe. You can also experience the world in a more “normal” way with the vaccines protecting you.
What Vaccines Are Available?
Currently, there are three brands of the COVID-19 vaccine that are approved and authorized for use in the United States. These are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen. Each of these vaccines also has a booster shot available to the public to further protect your immune system.
Who Can Get Vaccinated?
Patients in the age groups of 5-11, 12-17, and 18 and older are authorized to take the Pfizer vaccine. They should also get the additional booster five months after their last dose in the vaccine series.
The Moderna vaccine is approved for people age 18 and up. The CDC also recommend getting the Pfizer or Moderna booster shot about five months after the last dose.
Finally, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen is also recommended to 18 and older and receiving the Pfizer or Moderna booster shot at least two months after your first dose. You may get the booster from Johnson & Johnson in some cases. These situations include if you had post-vaccination side effects or a severe allergic reaction; if you have thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome; or when you want to receive the vaccine despite the safety concerns identified.
How Many Doses is the Vaccine?
The Pfizer vaccine is two doses, taken three weeks or 21 days apart. The Moderna vaccine is two doses, taken four weeks or 28 days apart. The booster shot can be taken about five to six months after your primary series. You will be fully vaccinated two weeks after your last dose.
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen only has one dose, but it is strongly advised that you get the Pfizer or Moderna booster vaccine at least two months later.
What are the CDC Recommendations?
The CDC recommends receiving vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for the primary series. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is only advised in certain cases.
The CDC also encourages the population to get the booster shot to better their chances against fighting the coronavirus.
Are the Vaccines Free?
COVID-19 vaccines authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are distributed at no cost to state and local communities. The public does not need to pay any out-of-pocket expenses for receiving any of the vaccines.
If you are being asked to make a payment for the vaccines, it is likely a scam or a mistake.