Melissa Magstadt, South Dakota Secretary of Health

South Dakota Department of Health Logo and button.

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions


Children ages 5-11

The COVID-19 vaccine is FREE to all people living in the U.S., regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.
Why should children 6 months and older get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Children who get COVID-19 can get very sick, can require treatment in a hospital, and in rare situations, can even die. After getting COVID-19, children and teens can also experience a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. Getting eligible children vaccinated can help prevent them from getting really sick even if they do get infected and help prevent serious short- and long-term complications of COVID-19.

Vaccinating children can also give parents greater confidence in their children participating in childcare, school, and other activities.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer, more reliable way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19. The known risks of COVID-19 and possible severe complications—such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death—outweigh the potential risks of having a rare, adverse reaction to vaccination. The benefit of COVID-19 vaccines, like other vaccines, is that those who get vaccinated get protection without risking the potentially serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19. More information can be found here.

Parents should talk with their child's pediatrician to get trusted, personalized medical advice and do what is right for their families.

Are children and teens at risk of getting sick from COVID-19?

COVID-19 can make children and teens of any age very sick and sometimes requires treatment in a hospital. In rare situations, the complications from COVID-19 can lead to death. There is no way to tell in advance how children will be affected by COVID-19. Although children with underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severe COVID-19, healthy children without underlying conditions can also experience severe illness.

After getting COVID-19, children and teens can also experience a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. These post-COVID conditions can be physical or mental, last for weeks, and affect quality of life.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines for children the same ones that are given to adults?

The COVID-19 vaccines for children have the same active ingredients as the vaccines given to adults. However, children receive a smaller, age-appropriate dose that is the right size for them. The smaller doses were rigorously tested and found to create the needed immune response for each age group. Your child should get the vaccine made for their age group.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for children and teens?

Yes. Before recommending COVID-19 vaccination for children, scientists conducted clinical trials with thousands of children to establish the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.

Reported side effects tend to be mild, temporary, and like those experienced after routine vaccination. Serious reactions after COVID-19 vaccination in children are rare. When they are reported, serious reactions most frequently occur within a few days after vaccination.

Is there a fertility or developmental concern with vaccinating children and teens before they reach puberty?

No. There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, can cause female or male fertility problems. There is no evidence that vaccine ingredients, including mRNA, or antibodies made following COVID-19 vaccination would cause any problems with becoming pregnant now or in the future. Similarly, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects puberty. More information can be found here.

Are there concerns about myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination of children?

Rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported after children and teens 5 years and older got a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. New studies have shown the rare risk of myocarditis and pericarditis associated with mRNA COVID-19 vaccination—mostly among males between the ages of 12 and 39 years—may be further reduced with a longer time between the first and second dose.

Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, like flu?

Children and teens can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other routinely recommended vaccines, including a flu vaccine, at the same visit.

Should children get a COVID-19 booster?

Use CDC’s COVID-19 booster tool to learn if and when your child or teen can get boosters to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.

Are COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens free?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone 6 months and older at no cost. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be given to all eligible people living in the United States, regardless of insurance or immigration status. While a vaccination site may ask to see your health insurance card, it is not required for your child to receive a vaccine.


Seasonal Flu & COVID-19

Is there a test that can detect both flu and COVID-19?

Yes. There are tests that will check for seasonal influenza A and B viruses and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Testing for these viruses at the same time gives public health officials important information about how flu and COVID-19 are spreading and what prevention steps people should take. These tests also help public health laboratories save time and testing materials, and possibly return test results faster. More information for laboratories is available.

Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

Flu vaccines are not designed to protect against COVID-19. Flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death in addition to other important benefits.

Likewise, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection against COVID-19, but those vaccines are not designed to protect against flu. Visit the CDC's Frequently Asked Questions page for information about COVID-19 vaccinations.

Can COVID-19 and flu vaccines be administered at the same time?

Yes. If eligible, both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit, without regard to timing as recommended by CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP). If a you're due for both vaccines, providers are encouraged to offer both vaccines at the same visit. Coadministration of all recommended vaccines is important because it increases the probability that people will be fully vaccinated.

Can I get a flu vaccine at the same time I get my COVID-19 booster shot?

Yes, you can get a flu vaccine at the same time you get a COVID-19 vaccine, including a COVID-19 booster shot.

COVID-19 Vaccine 3rd dose/booster shots FAQs

Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

Yes. The protection COVID-19 vaccines provide decreases over time, especially for certain groups of people.

  • Recent data suggest their effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time, especially in people ages 65 years and older.

The emergence of the variants further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.

CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone ages 6 months and older, and boosters for everyone 5 years and older, if eligible.

  • Data show that an mRNA booster increases the immune response, which improves protection against getting a serious COVID-19 infection.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, including recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Use CDC’s COVID-19 Booster Tool to learn if and when you can get boosters to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.

What are the risks to getting a booster?

Adults and children may have some side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine, including pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. Serious side effects are rare, but may occur.

If we need a booster dose, does that mean that the vaccines aren't working?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. However, public health experts see reduced protection over time against mild and moderate disease, especially among certain populations.

Am I still considered "fully vaccinated" if I don't get a booster?

Yes, the definition of fully vaccinated has not changed and does not include a booster. Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the single-dose J&J/Janssen vaccine. Fully vaccinated, however, is not the same as having the best protection. People are best protected when they stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, which includes getting boosters when eligible.

Does the definition of "up to date" include boosters?

You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines when you have received all doses in the primary series and all boosters recommended for you, when eligible. Learn more about COVID-19 booster recommendations.

Vaccine Safety FAQs

Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

COVID-19 can cause serious illness or even death. There's no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones and immunocompromised individuals who may get very sick or even die. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine greatly reduces the risk that you'll develop COVID-19.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. are safe and effective. They were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met the FDA's rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support approval or authorization of a vaccine.

Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines since they were authorized for emergency use by FDA. These vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

Your risk for serious health problems is much lower from the vaccine than your risk if you're unvaccinated and get COVID-19. COVID-19 can leave you with heart and lung damage and other conditions that require long-term treatment. Vaccines are much safer paths to immunity than the disease itself.

How can we know the vaccines are safe and effective if they have only been authorized for emergency use?

The FDA has authorized the use of three vaccines in response to the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency use authorizations get vaccines distributed faster than the formal FDA approval process without skipping any mandatory safety checks. Large clinical trials demonstrated that the vaccines were safe and effective, and real-world experience has confirmed those findings. Learn more about the FDA's emergency use authorization process.

Will the shot hurt or make me sick?

No. Some people might get sore muscles, feel tired, or have mild fever after getting the vaccine, but most people report only a sore arm where they got the shot. These reactions mean the vaccine is working to help teach your body how to fight COVID-19 if you are exposed. For most people, these side effects will go away on their own in a few days. If you have any concerns, call your doctor or nurse.

Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

If I am pregnant or planning to become pregnant, can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older, including people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners.

Currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and people who would like to have a baby.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with certain underlying medical conditions?

People with underlying medical conditions can receive a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people with underlying medical conditions. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness FAQs

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?

Vaccines train your immune system to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. With vaccines, you can build immunity to a disease without getting the disease.

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?

All FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19, including from variants. Remember: You're not fully protected from COVID-19 unless you're fully vaccinated.

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

Why should I get vaccinated if I can still get infected with COVID-19?

It's important to understand that infection doesn't necessarily lead to illness. If you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the virus manages to enter your body and begins to multiply—that is, infect you—your immune system will be prepared to quickly recognize the virus and keep it from doing real damage. That's why most people who get infected with COVID-19 despite being vaccinated—so-called breakthrough cases—have no symptoms (asymptomatic) or only mild-to-moderate illness.

Nearly everyone in the United States who is getting severely ill, needing hospitalization, and dying from COVID-19 is unvaccinated.

How long do COVID-19 vaccines last?

Scientists are continuing to monitor how long COVID-19 vaccine protection lasts. Recent studies show that protection against the virus may decrease over time. This reduction in protection has led CDC to recommend that everyone ages 5 years and older stay up to date with their vaccination by getting a booster shot after completing their primary vaccination series.

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you already had COVID-19.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection to your immune system. People who already had COVID-19 and do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after their recovery.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are effective at preventing COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine gives most people a high level of protection against COVID-19, even in people who have already been sick with COVID-19.

No currently available test can reliably determine if a person is protected from infection.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine prevent me from infecting others?

COVID-19 vaccines reduce the likelihood that you'll develop and be able to spread COVID-19. In rare occasions, some vaccinated people can get COVID-19 and spread it to others. Importantly, only a very small amount of spread happening around the country comes from vaccinated individuals.

Do the vaccines work on the new COVID variants?

COVID-19 vaccines are effective against severe disease and death from variants currently circulating in the United States.

COVID-19 Vaccine General FAQs

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines are here now and everyone age 6 months of age and older can get them. You have three ways to find vaccines near you:

How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

The federal government is providing vaccines free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.

Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I am vaccinated?

Should I wear a mask if I have a weak immune system?

If you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may not be fully protected even if you are up to date on your vaccinations. You should continue to take precautions including wearing a well-fitting mask, until advised otherwise by your healthcare provider. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

How can I get a replacement COVID-19 vaccination card?

The SD DOH does not issue cards. You will need to go back to the place you received your vaccine to request a card. Clinics/Hospitals/Pharmacies may be able to re-issue cards based on their own policies.

How do I get a copy of my immunization record?

You can request a copy from your clinic, access your patient portal (if available), or call the SD DOH at 605-773-3737.

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

Updated: 06/21/2022

Share via: