How and Where to Get COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters in Pennsylvania

Posted on 05/20/22 by Andrew Soergel

Pittsburgh VA Administers Pfizer Vaccinations

En español | Who's eligible to get vaccinated? 

  • Everyone age 5 and up can get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 
  • The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine is authorized for people 18 and older who only have access to the J&J vaccine, or who cannot receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for medical reasons. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated its J&J guidance due to a rare but serious blood clotting disorder associated with the one-shot vaccine. 


Who's eligible for booster shots?

  • People age 5 to 17: Pfizer recipients should get a booster at least five months after completing their initial two-shot series, according to the CDC.
  • People age 18 and older: Moderna and Pfizer recipients should get their booster five months after their second shot, and Johnson & Johnson recipients should get a booster at least two months after the first shot. 
  • Second boosters: People 50 and older are eligible for a second booster of Pfizer or Moderna at least four months after their initial booster. People 12 and older who are immunocompromised or have had certain organ transplants are also eligible for a second Pfizer booster, while those 18 and older with the same health conditions can get a second Moderna booster. And people who are immunocompromised and who have already received four shots — three vaccine doses and a booster — can get a second booster.

Third doses of Pfizer and Moderna, distinct from boosters, are recommended for specific immunocompromised people age 12 and older. These recipients may also get a booster — a fourth dose — at least six months after the third shot, according to CDC guidance. The agency recommends that children ages 5 to 11 who are immunocompromised get a third Pfizer dose 28 days after their second shot.

Can I mix and match boosters?

Yes. It’s safe and effective to choose which vaccine you receive as a booster.

Which vaccine is authorized for kids?

 Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for children age 5 and older. It’s one-third the dose for those 12 and older and is given in two shots, three weeks apart, according to CDC recommendations. Doses for kids are available at doctors’ offices and certain retail pharmacies. Call your doctor or check pharmacy websites. Both Pfizer and Moderna are researching how their vaccines work in children as young as 6 months.  

What's happening in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia County receives independent federal funding, so it has its own distribution roadmap. Learn more about what's happening locally by visiting Philadelphia's COVID-19 landing page. On April 18, Philadelphia reinstated its indoor mask mandate, but businesses can choose to require proof of vaccination in lieu of a mask.

Where can I get a vaccine or booster?

  • The federal government’s vaccines websiteVaccines.gov, lets you search for vaccine and booster sites by zip code, with links to appointments. Get the same information by texting your zip code to 438829 or by calling 800-232-0233 (TTY: 888-720-7489).
  • Certain retail pharmacies, some of which accept walk-ins, no appointment required. If you'd prefer to make an appointment ahead of time, check the websites of Rite AidWeis MarketsWegmans and Giant Eagle for scheduling. Note that some pharmacy websites require you to answer questions about your vaccination status before presenting the option for a booster. Many sites let you book appointments for the specific brand of vaccine or booster you prefer, based on availability. You can get an appointment through CVS — including at some Target stores with CVS pharmacies inside — online or by calling 800-746-7287. All Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies are accepting walk-ins.
  • Check the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website for updates. You can also call the health department at 877-724-3258 toll-free or use the Your Turn eligibility tool to see if you can get a vaccine and sign up for vaccine updates from the health department. Pennsylvania's COVID-19 dashboard tracks how many people have been vaccinated in the state.
  • Many transit agencies are offering free or discounted rides to and from vaccination sites.

What should I bring to my vaccine or booster appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, along with your health insurance card, if you have one. You won’t be charged for the initial vaccine series, or a booster shot, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine. After your first shot, bring your vaccine card for subsequent shots.  

How are vaccinations working in nursing homes and long-term care facilities?

Most long-term care residents and staff were offered first and second doses through a federal program that provided free on-site vaccinations in late 2020 and early 2021. The program has ended, but the federal government continues to allocate COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to pharmacies that are partnered with long-term care facilities to provide vaccinations, mainly on-site.  

Facilities that don’t have a pharmacy partner are encouraged to work with local or state health departments — or the federal government, if need be — to provide vaccinations. 

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine or a booster. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself.

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

What should I do with my vaccine card?

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

You may need your vaccine card to schedule a third vaccine dose, for certain immunocompromised people, or a booster shot.  You may also need it for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft.

If you’ve lost your vaccine card, call the site where you were vaccinated to request a new one or a copy of your vaccination record. You can also contact your state health department to request a replacement card or a copy of your record. 

How protected am I post-vaccination? I’ve heard about breakthrough infections.

All three vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections and are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from the disease. But no vaccine is 100 percent effective, and breakthrough infections can occur post-vaccination.

This guide was originally published on Dec. 17, 2020. It was updated on May 10, 2022, with more informaiton about booster shots for children.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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