COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Last revision March 27, 2024

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to Hawaii residents who are 6 months of age and older.

If you are looking for a vaccine location, use the link below!

Acronyms and abbreviations used:

  • CDC: US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  • COVID-19: Coronavirus Disease 2019
  • EUA: Emergency Use Authorization
  • FDA: US Food & Drug Administration
  • HDOH: State of Hawaii Department of Health
  • VAERS: Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System

General Vaccine FAQs

What are the current COVID-19 vaccine recommendations?

CDC recommends that all people receive an updated (2023–2024 Formula) COVID-19 vaccine, as authorized or approved by FDA. Most people aged 5 years through 64 years should receive a single dose of vaccine to protect against serious illness from COVID-19. None of the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines is preferred over another. COVID-19 vaccines are now a part of the routine vaccination schedule and it is anticipated that an updated COVID-19 vaccine will be recommended annually in the fall. For more information please visit Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC.

How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

Most people can get no-cost updated COVID-19 vaccines through their private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid plans.

Adults without health insurance and adults whose insurance does not cover all vaccine costs can get no-cost updated COVID-19 vaccine at healthcare providers, federally supported health centers, and select pharmacy locations participating in CDC’s Bridge Access Program.

CDC’s Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides vaccines at no cost to eligible children through health care providers enrolled in the program.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women?

Pregnant and recently pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe illness when compared with non-pregnant people. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk for preterm birth and might be at increased risk for other adverse pregnancy complications and outcomes, such as preeclampsia, coagulopathy, and stillbirth. The benefits of vaccination outweigh any known or potential risks of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. Studies have shown that antibodies produced after COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy are transferred to the newborn, and COVID-19 vaccination of people who are pregnant reduces the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization in infants younger than 6 months. Learn more at COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding | CDC.

The COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax) do not contain the live virus and cannot cause infection in either the pregnant person or the fetus.

Other things to consider:

  • COVID-19 risks of severe illness or adverse outcomes are known to be higher for pregnant women and their fetuses.
  • You should talk to your pregnancy healthcare provider and discuss if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine.

You can learn more about vaccines for pregnant women at COVID-19 Vaccines while Pregnant or Breastfeeding | CDC.

If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available?

You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you already had COVID-19Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19. 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. You may consider delaying your vaccine by 3 months. However, certain factors could be reasons to get a vaccine sooner rather than later, such as personal risk of severe disease, risk of disease in a loved one or close contact, local COVID-19 hospital admission level, and the most common COVID-19 variant currently causing illness. To learn more, go to Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC.

No one should be vaccinated while they are currently sick with a COVID-19 infection. Vaccinating should be postponed until the person has no more symptoms and criteria have been met for them to discontinue isolation. View the CDC Respiratory Virus Guidance for more information.

Are there other vaccines that can help prevent me from getting COVID-19? Does getting the annual flu shot help?

Right now, there are three 2023-2024 updated COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States.

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)
  2. Moderna
  3. Novavax

The three vaccines mentioned above are the only vaccines available in the U.S. that will protect against COVID-19. However, it is important to also get your annual flu shot during the COVID-19 pandemic. An influenza vaccine (“flu shot”) will not protect you from getting COVID-19, but it may provide several individual health benefits, such as keeping you from getting sick with the flu, reducing the severity of your illness if you do get the flu, and reducing your risk of hospitalization because of the flu. Flu vaccination is very important to keep you healthy and to keep our clinics and hospitals from being overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the differences between flu and COVID-19 at Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19​ | CDC.

Can I take the COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines such as the flu vaccine?

You can get the any of the COVID-19 vaccines at the same time you receive other vaccines, such as flu vaccine (Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-10 Vaccination | CDC).

Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than the protection you would get from a COVID-19 vaccine? How long will the vaccine protect people?

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer and more dependable way to build immunity to COVID-19 than getting sick with COVID-19. The level of protection people get from a COVID-19 infection may vary depending on how mild or severe their illness was, the time since their infection, and their age.

Although the amount and duration of protection from vaccination or infection can vary from person to person, CDC data have demonstrated that original COVID-19 vaccines can help protect against being put on a ventilator and/or death for up to 2 years and bivalent COVID-19 vaccines also provide sustained protection against critical illness and death.

Even though older versions of the vaccine provide extended protection, the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is by receiving the updated COVID-19 vaccine. People who received the updated COVID-19 vaccine were 54% less likely to get COVID-19 during the four-month period from mid-September to January.  For more information see COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness | CDC.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine have any side effects? Can it cause you to get sick?

Some people have no side effects. Many people have reported side effects—such as headache, fatigue, and soreness at the injection site—that are generally mild to moderate and go away within a few days. For more information, see COVID-19 Vaccine Safety | CDC.

COVID-19 vaccines do not cause new variants. See Facts about COVID-19 vaccines for more details.

If I am up to date on vaccinations, are there still actions I should take to protect myself and others?

Yes, you should still protect yourself and others by wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others not in your household, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Learn more about how to protect yourself and others under the CDC Respiratory Virus Guidance.

How do I report it if I have a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

A problem or bad reaction can be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). For more information on how to report to VAERS please visit here.

What do I do if I am up to date on vaccinations and have tested positive for COVID-19?

People over age 5 are considered up to date when they have received at least 1 updated COVID-19 vaccine. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 after being up to date on vaccines, there is some good news. Vaccines have been proven to decrease the severity of a COVID-19 infection for the majority of individuals.

What do I do if I am a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 and am experiencing symptoms but I am up to date on vaccinations?

People are considered up to date on their vaccinations when they have received the updated COVID vaccine.  If you are up to date on vaccinations and you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested as soon as possible. View the CDC Respiratory Virus Guidance.

What do I do if I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 but I am not experiencing any symptoms and am up to date with vaccinations?

If you are up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations you do not need to quarantine after being exposed but when you start experiencing symptoms, you should take a self-test. View the CDC Respiratory Virus Guidance for testing as an additional strategy to further protect yourself and others.

Where can I find out more information?

For more information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or you can also visit HDOH’s COVID-19 website.

Vaccine FAQs For Children 5-11 Years Old

How is the children’s dose different from the adult dose?

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 right for them. The smaller doses were rigorously tested and found to create the needed immune response for each age group.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine dosage for children aged 5-11 is 10 micrograms, 1/3 the dose used for adults and adolescents.

Moderna dosage for children 5-11 is 25 micrograms, 1/2 the dose used for adults and adolescents.

Novavax does not offer a COVID-19 vaccine for this age group.

To learn more, visit CDC Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination.

How can you tell the difference between an adult vial and pediatric vial?

The Pfizer adult/adolescent vial has gray cap with gray label while the Pfizer pediatric vial has a blue cap with blue label. The Moderna adult/adolescent vial has a dark blue cap with blue label (border) while the Moderna pediatric vial has a dark blue cap with green label (border) .

What side effects should I anticipate for my child following the shot?

Your child may have some side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. On the arm where your child got the shot:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Throughout the rest of your child’s body:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle Pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

For more information, refer to CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Children and Teens.

Should I keep my child home from school the day after receiving the vaccine?

Side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider for advice on using a non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home to comfort your child. It is not recommended you give pain relievers before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effect.

For more information, visit Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine | CDC.

Why should my child be vaccinated?

Although children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill when infected with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can get very sick, have both short and long-term health complications, and spread COVID-19 to others. Children are more likely to be asymptomatic than adults and can spread it unknowingly to those who are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill. CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years staying up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines because:

  • COVID-19 vaccines prevent serious illness.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are a safer and more reliable way to build protection than getting the disease itself.
  • COVID-19 vaccines offer added protection, even for those that may have gotten sick with COVID-19.
  • People who are up to date on COVID-19 vaccines will not be required to quarantine if they come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and children and teens, refer to Benefits of Getting A COVID-19 Vaccine | CDC.

Which COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for kids?

Children aged 5 years – 11 years who are unvaccinated or have previously gotten a COVID-19 vaccine before September 12, 2023, should get 1 updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. To learn more, visit Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC.

How many doses will my child need to get? What if my child is immunocompromised?

Everyone aged 5 years and older should get 1 dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness from COVID-19. None of the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines is preferred over another.

Everyone aged 6 months and older who is moderately or severely immunocompromised needs at least 1 dose of a 2023-2024 updated COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on the number of doses you’ve previously received, you may need more than 1 dose of updated vaccine.

For more detailed information, please see COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised | CDC.

Should I still get my child vaccinated even though there’s a possible risk of myocarditis?

Yes. CDC continues to recommend that everyone ages 5 years and older get vaccinated for COVID-19. The known risks of COVID-19 illness and its related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.

For more information, please refer to CDC’s Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines in the United States.

If you have concerns about COVID-19 vaccination, talk with your healthcare provider or your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic. Link for more information: Myocarditis and Pericarditis After mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC.

Is my child at risk of myocarditis after receiving the vaccine?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the lining outside the heart. In both cases, the body’s immune system is causing inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger. Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, or feelings of having a fast beating, fluttering or pounding heart.

Myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.

The severity of cases of myocarditis and pericarditis can vary. For the cases reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, most who presented to medical care have responded well to medications and rest.

Learn more here: Myocarditis and Pericarditis After mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC.

Vaccine FAQs for Children 6 Months to 4 Years Old

What is the dosage given to children ages 6 months to 4 years old?

The Pfizer vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years is 3 micrograms, 1/10 of the dose given to adults and adolescents.

The Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years is 25 micrograms, 1/2 of the dose given to adults and adolescents.

Novavax does not offer a COVID-19 vaccine for this age group.

To learn more, visit Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC.

How many doses will my child need to get? What if my child is immunocompromised?

If your child (6 months- 4 years) is not vaccinated they should get either 3 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine or 2 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

If your child has received COVID-19 vaccine previously, the number of doses will depend on how many COVID-19 vaccine doses they received before. If your child received a complete primary series of COVID-19 vaccine, then they will just need 1 updated COVID-19 vaccine.

If your child is immunocompromised and up-to-date with all of their COVID-19 vaccines except the 2023/2024 COVID-19 Updated Vaccine, they need only 1 dose of updated COVID-19 vaccine to become current with immunization recommendations.

For more information please visit Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC.


Please call the Immunization Branch Vaccination Call Center at (808) 586-8332 or 1-833-711-0645