COVID-19 Vaccine Information

VACCINE UPDATE: Harris County Public Health has been administering a limited supply of the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine to healthcare professionals and people over 65 or those with underlying health conditions.

For additional locations on where to get the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit: DSHS Vaccine Provider Map


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine Information

Get Vaccinated

In November 2020, Governor Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) released guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine allocationPer this plan, the first phase of distribution in Texas will be limited to healthcare workers and individuals on the frontlines. This includes those in hospital settings, long-term care staff, EMS providers, etc. Find out more about the qualifications for the current phases below.

Phase 1A Qualifications

First Tier

  • Paid and unpaid workers in hospital settings working directly with patients who are positive or at high risk for COVID-19. Such as but not limited to:
    • Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other support staff (custodial staff, etc.)
    • Additional clinical staff providing supporting laboratory, pharmacy, diagnostic and/or rehabilitation services
    • Others having direct contact with patients or infectious materials
  • Long-term care staff working directly with vulnerable residents. Includes:
    • Direct care providers at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and state supported living centers
    • Physicians, nurses, personal care assistants, custodial, food service staff
  • EMS providers who engage in 9-1-1 emergency services like pre-hospital care and transport
  • Home health care workers, including hospice care, who directly interface with vulnerable and high-risk patients
  • Residents of long-term care facilities

Second Tier

  • Staff in outpatient care settings who interact with symptomatic patients. Such as but not limited to:
    • Physicians, nurses, and other support staff (custodial staff, etc.)
    • Clinical staff providing diagnostic, laboratory, and/or rehabilitation services
    • Non 9-1-1 transport for routine care
    • Healthcare workers in corrections and detention facilities
  • Direct care staff in freestanding emergency medical care facilities and urgent care clinics
  • Community pharmacy staff who may provide direct services to clients, including vaccination or testing for individuals who may have COVID
  • Public health and emergency response staff directly involved in administration of COVID testing and vaccinations
  • Last responders who provide mortuary or death services to decedents with COVID-19. Includes:
    • Embalmers and funeral home workers who have direct contact with decedents 
    • Medical examiners and other medical certifiers who have direct contact with decedents
  • School nurses who provide health care to students and teachers

Source: Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Phase 1A Definition

Phase 1B Qualifications
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
    • Solid organ transplantation
    • Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Source: Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Phase 1B Definition

Find Providers Near You

Do you qualify for the current phase of distribution? View the Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations map for providers in your area. It is important to contact facilities prior to showing up to ensure they have vaccines available.

About COVID-19 Vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccine is here. As of December 17, 2020, two vaccines have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: This vaccine is authorized for emergency use in persons aged 16 years and older. This vaccines requires two doses given 21 days apart. Clinical trial data shows that the vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infection starting seven days after the second dose. Individuals will not be considered fully protected until one to two weeks after they receive the second dose. Find more information on the CDC's website.
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine: This vaccine is authorized for emergency use in persons aged 18 years and older. This vaccine requires two doses given 28 days apart. Clinical trial data shows the vaccine is about 94 percent effective after the second dose. Find more information on the CDC's website.

Download Guidance

About the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine
Staying COVID-19 Free!
Comparison of Current COVID-19 Vaccines
About the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine
Vaccine Drive Thru Handout

Myths, Misconceptions, and Facts

As news circulates around the creation and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines, HCPH encourages you to review facts and information from sources you trust. Below are links to several resources that offer details about common misconceptions or questions surrounding COVID-19 vaccination.

Download Guidance:

Healthcare Providers and Professionals

Are you a healthcare provider or professional looking for information on COVID-19 vaccination and distribution? Find details about enrolling as a provider, training programs, and more in our Guidance for Healthcare Professionals resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

Available Translations: Español

About the COVID-19 Vaccine

How is the vaccine administered?

The COVID-19 vaccine is given as a shot, similar to your annual flu vaccine. The majority of vaccines currently undergoing trials require two shots to be effective, with these shots given a few weeks apart.

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases, health experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously sick. Getting the vaccine is a safer and more controlled way to build protection since there is no way to predict how COVID-19 will affect you. Research has shown that the vaccine is safe and effective. 


When can my family and I get vaccinated?

At this time, HCPH has a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines that is designated to those working in hospitals, healthcare facilities as well as residents at long-term care facilities as they are the highest risk groups.

For a full breakdown of how the vaccine is being distributed, please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Will there be enough vaccines for everyone?

At some point in 2021, there should be enough COVID-19 vaccines in production for everyone - not just healthcare workers! It will be provided at pharmacies and doctors' officers, like other vaccines.

Until then, it is encouraged to continue protecting yourself and others by wearing a mask, practicing good hygiene, social distancing, and getting tested. Find more guidance here.

How much does it cost?

It is free! The federal government will cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine. Health care providers may charge you an office visit fee, or a fee to give the vaccine. Health insurance most likely will cover these fees.


Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

At this time, we urge residents to seek the vaccine for their primary healthcare provider or find a location on the Texas Department of State Health Service Vaccine map.

HCPH received a limited supply of vaccines. These were specifically designated to those working in hospitals, healthcare facilities as well as residents at long-term care facilities as they are the highest risk groups.

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes largely available to the public, we encourage you to reach out to your local hospitals, primary care physician, clinics, and even nearby pharmacies. Learn more in the AskHCPH video for Español, ChineseVietnamese, and Arabic.

I qualify for the vaccine. How do I find a provider near me?

If you quality for getting a COVID-19 vaccine based on the current distribution phase requirements, you can find more information about local providers here. It is recommended to contact a facility prior to visiting to ensure you meeting all requirements and to make sure that they current have vaccines available.

Who will be distributing the vaccine? Who is giving the shots?

The state of Texas will be responsible for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to local communities. Harris County Public Health (HCPH) has more than 1,000 partners who will receive shipments and vaccinate people when the time comes.

What should I do while waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine?

As we wait for the COVID-19 vaccine to become available to the general public, we must remain vigilant in practicing safety measures like wearing face coverings, social distancing, and hand-washing. Learn more in the AskHCPH video for Español, ChineseVietnamese, and Arabic.

Safety and Effectiveness

The COVID-19 vaccine was created quickly. Is it safe?

Yes, it is safe! Although it may seem that creating COVID-19 vaccines has been rushed, safety has been a top priority every step of the way. Vaccine manufacturers have passed through many difficult steps during the vaccine approval process. Clinical trials review vaccine safety and effectiveness, producing data and other information for the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate. No vaccine is available for use in the U.S. until it meets the FDA’s safety standards. 

Even after the FDA approves COVID-19 vaccines for use, they will continue to monitor possible side effects. There are many systems in place to report bad reactions and side effects. When people report them, scientists and medical experts quickly study them to determine a real safety concern. 

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Experiencing side effects is a sign that your body is building immunity. It is normal to experience minor side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Some of the common side effects include pain or swelling on the arm where you received the shot. You may also experience fever, chills, tiredness or a headache. Even if you experience these minor symptoms, it is important that you still get the second dose of the vaccine. Getting two doses is the only way to ensure that you have protection from COVID-19.

What serious side effects should I watch for after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

In most cases, experiencing a fever or pain at the injection site is normal. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider:

  • If the redness or tenderness where you received the shot increases after 24 hours
  • If your side effects remain after a few days

In rare cases, the Moderna vaccine causes a severe allergic reaction, usually within a few minutes to an hour after getting the vaccine. Contact your healthcare provider immediately or call 911.

  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include:
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face and throat
  • A fast heartbeat
  • A bad rash all over your body
  • Dizziness and weakness 

If I get sick after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, should I still get the second dose?

Unless you develop signs or symptoms that indicate you should not take the vaccine after the first dose, you should complete the series even if you develop the post-vaccination side effects to protect against COVID-19. Early studies show vaccine recipients have experienced some side effects after each dose, more so after the second dose. 

Will the vaccine be effective if I wait longer than the recommended time between the first and second doses?

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine at the recommended time is very important. Vaccine manufacturers establish the timeframe based on extensive scientific research to ensure maximum protection against COVID-19. Learn more in the AskHCPH video below.

Vaccine Production

Why were other countries able to produce a COVID-19 vaccine before the United States?

Each country has its own review process and regulations. This process in the United States is very stringent so once scientists and medical experts have determined that the vaccine meets the safety requirements outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), then the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for use and production. Learn more in the AskHCPH video for Español, ChineseVietnamese, and Arabic.

What is an "EUA" from the FDA?

"EUA" stands for an Emergency Use Authorization. It is the process that allows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to quickly distribute medical products - including vaccines, medications, etc. - to those in need during public health emergencies. Under an EUA, the FDA may allow the use of unapproved medical products in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious of life-threatening illnesses. Learn more in the AskHCPH video for Español, ChineseVietnamese, and Arabic.


How can my healthcare facility become a provider of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Professionals and facilities may enroll as a COVID-19 vaccine provider at For full details on requirements and the registration process, visit DSHS's Provider Vaccine Information resources. More information can also be found in HCPH's Guidance for Healthcare Professionals.


Will the COVID-19 vaccine completely end the pandemic?

While the vaccine is the best way to prevent more people from contracting COVID-19, reduce hospital stays, and minimize deaths related to the virus, it will not automatically end the pandemic. Even if the entire population were to take the vaccine, not everyone can get vaccinated at the same time. Because of this, all of the other preventative measures - like social distancing and wearing face coverings - will need to remain in place until a substantial number of people are vaccinated. Learn more in the AskHCPH video below.

Download Social Media Toolkit

In an effort to share awareness of COVID-19 vaccination within our community, social media toolkits are available for download and can be shared on your own social media platforms. Find them here.