COVID-19 Vaccines: What Older New Yorkers Need to Know

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you will be protected!

Why is it important for older adults to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

While anyone can get sick from COVID-19, the risk of severe illness increases with age. Severe illness from COVID-19 may lead to hospitalization, intensive care, use of a ventilator or death. Certain underlying medical conditions, such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease, also increase the risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe, and do they work?

Yes. Scientists used decades of research for other vaccines to develop the COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines went through large clinical studies that showed they protect against severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death, and the vaccines have since been given safely to hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. The vaccines do not contain the COVID-19 virus, cannot cause COVID-19 infection and cannot change your DNA.

Are there side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines?

Many people have side effects, such as soreness in the arm, headache, body aches, tiredness and fever. Side effects usually last one to two days and are less common in older adults. Serious side effects are very rare. Call your health care provider if you have side effects that concern you or do not go away after a few days, or if the redness or soreness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours.

How many doses of vaccine do older adults need?

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine requires one dose.

People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should get a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days after their second dose.

For many people who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, a booster shot is recommended at least 5 months after their second dose. For everyone who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a booster shot is recommended at least two months after vaccination.

If you think you might need a third dose or booster shot, talk to your provider.

Where can I get vaccinated?

To find a vaccination site:

  • Visit
  • Call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692).
  • Contact your provider or pharmacy to see if they are offering vaccination.

Can all New York City Residents Get the COVID-19 Vaccine at Home?

New York City is offering in-home Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations to any City resident who is homebound, and City residents 65 and older.

You can also schedule a free in-home vaccination by visiting or calling 877-829-4692.

Is it safe for me to leave home to get vaccinated?

Vaccination sites are taking extra precautions to protect patients and staff, such as limiting the number of people on-site at the same time. Wear a face mask and try to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others when traveling to and from and while at the vaccination site.

How can I get to the vaccination site?

Free transportation to and from vaccination sites is available for New York City (NYC) residents age 65 and older and people who have disabilities and no other way to get to a vaccination site. To arrange for transportation, call 877-829-4692. If you take public transportation, find the most direct and least crowded way to travel.


How much will it cost to get vaccinated?

Vaccination is free. If you have insurance, it may be billed, but you will not be charged a copayment or other fee.

Do I need to provide proof of eligibility to be vaccinated?

Yes. Bring proof of age, such as a driver’s license or other state ID, valid U.S. or foreign passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, life insurance policy, or other document showing your date of birth. You do not need to share immigration status or a social security number.

Can I stop physical distancing and wearing a mask after I get vaccinated?


Once fully vaccinated, you can do some activities without wearing a mask or physical distancing. Our advice is to keep your mask on in all public indoor and crowded settings, even when it is not required, and in any setting when you do not know the vaccination status of the people around you. Also, you must follow the mask requirements of any place that you go, such as a business, school, public transportation or your workplace.

If you have a condition or take medication that weakens your immune system, you may not be fully protected even if fully vaccinated. Talk to your provider before stopping precautions.

Do I need both the COVID-19 and flu vaccine?

Yes. The flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine protect against different infections. Older adults are at increased risk of complications from both the flu and COVID-19, so it is important to get both vaccines. You can get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, or at any time before or after.

For accommodations (such as a wheelchair provided on-site or in-person ASL interpretation), call 877-829-4692 or visit ahead of time. To give feedback or file an accessibility complaint, call 311, text 311692 or email

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, talk to your provider, call 311 or visit

For a list of free services and support for older New Yorkers during the COVID-19 public health emergency, visit

The NYC Health Department may change recommendations as the situation evolves. 11.10.21