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Photograph of a female patient having a CVS bandage applied after receiving vaccine.

Stay informed about the no-cost COVID-19 vaccine.*

We are administering the COVID-19 vaccine in limited areas by appointment only.

Photograph of a female patient having a CVS bandage applied after receiving vaccine.

CDC recommendations for vaccine allocation by phase and eligibility group. Phase 1a is eligible to health care workers and long-term care facility residents. Phase 1b is eligible to frontline essential workers and people 75 years and older. Phase 1c is eligible to people ages 65 – 74 years, people ages 16 – 64 years with high risk medical conditions, and essential workers not previously recommended for vaccination. Phase 2 is eligible to people 16 years and older, not previously recommended for vaccination.

What to know about getting the COVID-19 vaccine at CVS®.

  • We are currently administering the COVID-19 vaccine in limited areas at our retail locations per state eligibility guidelines
  • Eligibility phases may vary from CDC guidance based on each state's community needs*

  • When eligible, schedule both vaccines (first dose and second dose) online or through the CVS Pharmacy app
  • The vaccine will be no cost to you through your insurance or a government program for the uninsured
An image of a pharmacist administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient

We'll help keep you informed about the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • mRNA vaccines train our bodies to trigger an immune response to the disease, and don't affect or interact with our DNA in any way
  • Vaccine development process was informed by decades of research and large-scale clinical trials with thousands of participants
  • After two required doses, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have a 94% to 95% efficacy rate of protection against COVID-19

  • They may include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain or chills and fever
  • Remember, the vaccine does not contain the virus, so it cannot give you COVID-19
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COVID-19 vaccines: Your questions, answered

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Why get the COVID-19 vaccine from CVS Health®?

  • We've administered millions of COVID-19 tests to date
  • We have years of experience safely administering vaccines, such as those for flu, shingles and pneumonia
  • Once the vaccine is available to pharmacies, we'll offer easy online vaccination scheduling

Here's what you can do to prepare.

Once the vaccine is available to pharmacies, visit this page to schedule your vaccination with us.

Please continue to wear your mask, practice physical distancing and wash your hands frequently to help reduce transmission.

COVID-19 vaccine FAQs

CVS Health is prepared to play a prominent role in administering COVID-19 vaccinations to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, as well as to the general public once the vaccine is available for general distribution through a partnership with the CDC as one of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Providers. CVS Health also stands ready to provide additional assistance to states in their state-run vaccination programs.

CVS Health immunizers may include pharmacists, pharmacy interns and trained pharmacy technicians, as well as other qualified health care professionals depending on the state's specific regulations. All CVS Health immunizers will be certified according to company regulations, trained in the administration of immunizations and hold an active CPR certification.

When patients make an appointment for their initial shot online or through the CVS Pharmacy® app, they will be prompted to schedule an appointment for their booster dose at the same time. The booster dose will be scheduled within the appropriate time frame, allowing enough time for a potential reschedule of the appointment. Upon receiving their first dose, patients will be provided with a mandated vaccine card with all relevant vaccination information. Detailed reporting will be shared with state, local or territorial public health authorities.

CVS Health is mobilizing to provide vaccine access for all Americans, consistent with federal and state prioritization guidelines. States are actively working to finalize their prioritization guidance for critical infrastructure workers. We anticipate the vaccination of these workers will begin early 2021 in many states, subsequent to vaccination efforts for frontline health care workers and long-term care facilities.  CVS Health is well positioned to support the vaccination of critical infrastructure workers. We are in active discussions with authorities about supporting these efforts and will communicate further specifics as they become available.

Depending on which vaccines are authorized, there are a number of factors involving handling, distribution and tracking:

  • Logistics of cold-chain shipping and storage: There may be a need for refrigeration, freezing or even ultracold storage. CVS Health is putting in place essential logistics to maintain the cold chain, such as transporting vaccines in dry ice packs and ensuring facilities have appropriate freezer capacity.
  • Avoiding waste with multi-dose vials: Manufacturers are putting multiple doses into each vial — currently ranging from 5 to 15 doses. CVS Health will train vaccine administrators to make sure that once the vaccine is taken out of the freezer, as many doses as possible are used in a specified time frame before spoilage occurs, so waste is minimized.
  • Dosing, scheduling and tracking: Booster shots are going to be required for nearly all vaccines. CVS Health has implemented a detailed tracking system to make sure we know who received which vaccine and that they get the second dose of the same vaccine.

Yes, CVS Health is able to appropriately store vaccines at the required temperature range. CVS Health already maintains standard refrigeration and freezing capabilities at every one of our nearly 10,000 CVS Pharmacy locations, and we are putting in place essential logistics to maintain the cold chain, such as transporting vaccines in dry ice packs and ensuring facilities have appropriate freezer capacity.

Yes. Inventory of these items is matched with a vaccine to ensure proper administration. Medical supplies including needles, syringes, alcohol pads, surgical masks, face shields and preparation materials are provided in kits with the vaccine to CVS Health by the federal government in coordination with the vaccine manufacturers.

Federal and state authorities are developing guidelines to prioritize vulnerable populations in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Because the current supply of the COVID-19 vaccine is limited, the CDC recommends initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to health care workers and elderly people living in long-term care facilities. Vaccines may be available to the general population as soon as March or April.

"Health care workers" are defined in the government's recommendations as anyone, paid or unpaid, serving in health care settings who has the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. Federal and state authorities are developing guidelines to prioritize the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, including among health care workers. CVS Health will administer COVID-19 vaccines in line with all requirements, recommendations and other guidance. Learn more about how "health care worker" is defined by the CDC.

Family members of health care workers are not included in the government's recommendation for distributing the initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Federal and state authorities are developing guidelines to prioritize the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. CVS Health will administer COVID-19 vaccines in line with all requirements, recommendations and other guidance.

The first COVID-19 vaccines to become available will only be approved for use in those 16 years or older. The clinical trials conducted thus far tested the vaccines' safety and efficacy in adults, and researchers will need to conduct additional studies on how the vaccines affect younger children. CVS Health will follow the guidance provided by the CDC and the FDA regarding the age of individuals eligible to receive the vaccine.

The number of vaccine doses made available to CVS Health will be determined by the states and federal government. CVS Health will have the capacity to administer as many as 20 million to 25 million shots per month (covering 10 million to 12.5 million people per month with a two-dose vaccine) at our nearly 10,000 pharmacy locations in communities across the country.

CVS Health is prepared to provide vaccinations at our nearly 10,000 pharmacy locations in all 50 states, as well as in Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

The vaccine made available to CVS Health will be determined by the U.S. government.

No, patients will not be charged for the vaccine or its administration. The government will pay for the cost of the vaccine, and the health care provider who administers the vaccine will be reimbursed by the patient's insurance or, in the case of uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) program for uninsured patients.

CVS Health has contracted with the CDC to be one of the official COVID-19 Vaccination Program Providers. The government will provide CVS Health with the vaccine to administer in line with prioritization guidelines.

Under this contract, CVS Health will administer the vaccine to patients in line with all state and federal requirements, recommendations and other guidance.

The vaccine will be available at all of our nearly 10,000 CVS Pharmacy retail locations.

Appointments will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, which can be scheduled online at CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app. We will also have a dedicated 800 number for people without online access. These tools will help consumers easily schedule their vaccinations — both the initial shot and the required second vaccination — at the same time.

Yes, all the major national chains and several regional chains are helping the government administer as many vaccinations as possible. Learn more about the pharmacies participating in the administration of the vaccine.

As with any vaccine, the goal of a COVID-19 vaccine is to expose the body to an antigen that won't cause disease but will provoke an immune response that can block or kill the virus if a person becomes infected. Vaccines contain either the whole virus or a component. After receiving a vaccine, a person develops immunity to that disease without having to get the disease. The immunity varies based on the type of vaccine you receive. Some vaccines last a year (like the flu vaccine) and others last longer (like the polio vaccine). Current science suggests that the COVID-19 vaccine will be more like the flu vaccine, requiring annual dosing, but research will be required to fully answer this question.

Manufacturers are taking different approaches toward developing a COVID-19 vaccine including using portions of the virus, genetic material or other vectors.

Traditional technology A traditional vaccine technology is to use protein sub-units that can be injected into cells to stimulate a response. Such vaccines usually need adjuvants — or immune-stimulating molecules — delivered in conjunction with the vaccine and may also require multiple doses. Some of the candidates in development using this technique are from Novavax and Sanofi/GSK.

Novel technologies Viral vector vaccines use another virus that has been engineered to express the S protein to generate an immune response. Some of the candidates in development using this category are from AstraZeneca/Oxford, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Vaxart.

Nucleic acid vaccines deliver genetic material into the cell. The genetic material is then translated into a protein — usually the S protein. However, this method — and the way the genetic material (RNA or DNA) is delivered into the cell — requires that these vaccines be stored and transported at ultracold temperatures of -20 to -70 degrees Celsius. Some candidates in development in this category are from Pfizer-BioNTech, Inovio and Moderna.

Vaccine development is a lengthy, expensive process and can take up to 15 years. The fastest vaccine ever to be developed until now was for mumps — and that took nearly five years. Because of the cost and high failure rates, developers typically follow a linear sequence of steps, with multiple pauses for data analysis or manufacturing-process checks.

However, with this pandemic, manufacturers have been able to speed up vaccine development. Here's why:

Head startData from SARS-CoV-1 and MERS CoV vaccine development saved time, and the initial step of exploratory vaccine design was accelerated.

Government involvement The government invoked emergency authority to enable manufacturing to start alongside clinical trials. Manufacturing is usually scaled substantially after trials have concluded, but Operation Warp Speed has enabled manufacturers to de-risk and build manufacturing alongside clinical trials.

Pandemic recruitment The higher rates of infection from this virus and more trial participants have enabled manufacturers to recruit participants and demonstrate efficacy more quickly.

Cutting-edge approaches New manufacturing technologies have helped accelerate vaccine production.

Given each vaccine will have different clinical profiles, there are a number of important criteria to evaluate as part of overall planning efforts. Understanding these criteria will help the clinical community plan for safe and effective administration of the vaccine. Some of these considerations include:

  • Efficacy, safety, age of vaccine recipient, duration of immunity and route of administration (e.g., intramuscular, intradermal injection, oral or other)
  • Dosing frequency and tracking (e.g., single dose vs. multiple doses or time between doses)
  • Shipping/storage requirements (e.g., room temperature, refrigerated, froze or deep frozen)
  • Compounding requirements (e.g., reconstitution or ready-to-use)

Most COVID-19 vaccines under development are likely to require a second booster shot a month or so after the initial dose. Providers will need to ensure that individuals who got the first shot receive a second shot of the right vaccine at the right time. Educating the population about the importance of receiving the booster shot will be critical.

CVS Health COVID-19 vaccination services will be conducted in compliance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance for Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic for safe delivery of vaccines. CVS Health will only be administering vaccines that have been approved for emergency use by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The most commonly reported side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever. Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose, so it is important for vaccination providers and recipients to expect that there may be some side effects after either dose, but even more so after the second dose. The most commonly reported side effects of the Moderna vaccine were similar including injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, and chills. 

CVS Health immunizers are trained in the safe administration of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by the FDA, including identifying and treating allergic reactions. The vaccination procedures include a patient-screening checklist to assess the risk of reaction. All patients are monitored for 15 minutes after administration injection, or longer for people with a history of severe allergic reactions. Providers at CVS Health long-term care facility COVID-19 vaccination clinics are equipped with appropriate equipment and medications, such as epinephrine and antihistamines, to assess and treat adverse reactions. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and allergic reactions.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have two doses, with the booster shot coming a few weeks after the first. Pfizer-BioNTech's second dose comes three weeks after the first, and Moderna's comes four weeks later. The second dose provides a potent boost that gives people strong, long-lasting immunity. While the two leading vaccines include a second dose, some future vaccine candidates may only require one dose. Johnson & Johnson, for example, is expecting data in January that will show whether its experimental vaccine works after a single dose. In case it doesn't, the company has also started a separate trial using two doses.

Yes, the process will be very similar to receiving a flu vaccine, including scheduling an appointment online at CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app. CVS Health has ample experience in safely administering vaccines, including millions of flu shots every year.

Current science suggests that the COVID-19 vaccine will be like the flu vaccine, requiring annual dosing, but research will be required to fully answer this question.

The FDA has rigorous scientific and regulatory processes in place to facilitate development and ensure the safety, effectiveness and quality of COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and by Moderna. An EUA gives the FDA authority to allow unapproved medical products to be used in emergencies when no approved alternatives are available. Other COVID-19 vaccines are in development and will be reviewed by the FDA under EUA. Learn more about the current status of the vaccine EUAs.

The information contained in this FAQ is subject to change at the discretion of CVS at any time, for any reason and without advanced notice.

*FOR COVID-19 VACCINE COST: The COVID-19 vaccine is currently available at select CVS Pharmacy® locations and is no cost with most insurance plans or through a federal program for the uninsured.

*FOR SIDE EFFECTS: All CVS Health® immunizers will be certified according to company requirements and trained in the administration of immunizations, and will hold an active CPR certification.

*FOR CDC SOURCING: Learn more about CDC data sources, exclusions and estimates.

*FOR VACCINE ADMINISTRATION GUIDELINES: All CVS Health certified immunizers are trained in the administration of vaccines and hold an active CPR certification.