Information About the COVID-19 Vaccines
Getting vaccinated—including a booster shot if recommended for you—is still the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from COVID-19.
The vaccines currently authorized for use are known as “bivalent” vaccines because they offer increased protection against two subtypes of the virus. Recommendations for these vaccines are as follows:
If you are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or have only received the original “monovalent” vaccine:
- Six years and up: One dose of bivalent vaccine
- Six months to five years: One to three doses of bivalent vaccine, as recommended by your child’s pediatrician
- Patients who are immunocompromised (all ages): Speak to your doctor about whether you should get additional doses of vaccine
If you have previously received at least one dose of bivalent vaccine:
- If you are 65 or older, a second dose of bivalent vaccine is recommended at least four months after your initial dose
- If you are immunocompromised, speak to your doctor about whether additional doses are recommended
- If you are under 65 and not immunocompromised, no additional doses are recommended at this time
All Mount Sinai patients, including children, can be scheduled for a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine through their doctor's office. We are also offering bivalent vaccines on a walk-in basis at the Mount Sinai-Union Square Urgent Care location, Monday-Friday from 8 am to 7 pm.
For information about Mount Sinai South Nassau’s Vaxmobile or to partner with it on a community health event, please email Vaxmobile@snch.org.
You can also check the New York State, New York City, New Jersey, or Connecticut websites for other locations that offer appointments or walk-in vaccination. New York City is also offering in-home vaccinations for all residents 65 and over.
Patients ages 16 to 18 need parental/guardian consent for vaccination. Patients ages 5 to 15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Getting Help With Excelsior Pass
Vaccination records from Mount Sinai are available through New York State’s digital app, Excelsior Pass. If you need help getting your vaccine record into Excelsior Pass, follow these steps.
Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine
Below are some helpful answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive about the COVID-19 vaccines.
How do the vaccines protect me from COVID-19?
Getting vaccinated–including booster shots if recommended for you–is the best way to protect yourself from hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
Vaccines expose us to pieces of either a bacterium or a virus. Our body’s immune system responds by making antibodies that fight against those pieces. The goal is that if we are exposed to the real bacteria or virus in the future, our body will recognize it and use the antibodies to fight it off.
The bivalent mRNA vaccines—made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna—do not contain any part of the COVID-19 virus. They contain instructions for your cells to follow. These instructions (called mRNA) tell your cells to make a piece of the COVID-19 virus, called the spike protein. Once your cells make the spike protein, your immune system will make antibodies that fight the COVID-19 virus and protect you from getting sick. The vaccines are “bivalent” because they contain instructions for both the original spike protein and newer variants, offering additional protection.
How do we know a vaccine is safe?
All vaccines are closely studied and tested, including the vaccines for COVID-19. The FDA reviews all vaccines for safety before allowing them onto the market. Once they are on the market, we continue to monitor them closely. If any concerns arise, the FDA quickly responds and updates its guidelines and recommendations.
In New York State, the Governor’s Clinical Advisory Task Force, which includes highly respected scientists like Adolfo García-Sastre, PhD, Irene and Dr. Arthur M. Fishberg Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, also offers an independent opinion about each vaccine’s safety and efficacy.
The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of medical and public health experts that advises the CDC, also assesses the safety and efficacy of vaccines. They helped to develop the recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine use.
Should I take the vaccine if I am pregnant or considering pregnancy, or if I am breastfeeding?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future. Pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19. Getting vaccinated will protect both you and your baby.
Can children get vaccinated?
Yes. The bivalent vaccines have been authorized for children as young as six months old.
If I already had COVID-19, should I get vaccinated?
Yes. It is safe to get vaccinated as soon as you have recovered from COVID-19 but it is recommended to wait three months from when your symptoms started or when you received a positive test.
What do we know about side effects from the vaccines?
Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause short-term side effects. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building up its protection against COVID-19. Side effects usually go away within a day or two and can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications.
The following side effects are common:
- Pain in the arm where you received your shot
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
If you experience side effects that are worrying or do not seem to go away after a few days, please tell your health care provider.
Serious side effects are extremely rare. More than 13 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been given worldwide, including more than 660 million in the United States. The safety of the vaccines is closely monitored—in fact, the COVID-19 vaccines are the most closely monitored vaccines in history.
There have been rare reports of people, especially young males, developing inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or the lining of the heart (pericarditis) after vaccination. These reports remain rare in the setting of millions of doses of vaccines being given. It is important to remember that the risk of developing myocarditis or pericarditis from COVID-19 infection is greater than the risk from vaccination. Also, the cases from vaccination have been milder than cases from COVID-19 infection.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccination as the best form of protection for adolescents.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccine side effects, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html
How much are the COVID-19 vaccines?
The COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone. You do not need health insurance to get vaccinated. If you do have insurance, please bring your card with you to your appointment. Your insurance may be billed but you will not be charged a co-pay or any other fees.
Should I take over-the-counter pain medications before or after my vaccination?
If you regularly take aspirin, acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), or ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin or Advil) for other medical conditions, continue to do so as directed by your doctor or as needed. Otherwise, do not take these medications before getting vaccinated. Taking over-the-counter medications like these before receiving a vaccine may decrease your immune response to the vaccine, making it less effective. After vaccination, you can take an over-the-counter medication as needed to address any side effects from the vaccine.
Will taking this vaccine give me COVID-19?
No. It is NOT possible to get COVID-19 from any of the vaccines available.
Should I take the vaccine if I have severe allergies?
Allergies that are not related to medications or vaccines, such as allergies to foods, animals, and pollen, are not an issue. Do not get any COVID-19 vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction (i.e., anaphylaxis) to vaccines or the components of that vaccine. If you have a history of severe medication allergies, please discuss with your health care provider.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine affect my period?
The menstrual cycle begins on the first day of a period, and the average cycle is 28 days. COVID-19 vaccination is linked with a temporary increase in this cycle of about one day on average, though not an increase in days of menses or bleeding, the National Institutes of Health says, citing a large international study. These changes after vaccination appear to be small and within the normal range of variation, the NIH says. Changes in the menstrual cycle are common and have a variety of causes. These may include stress, weight gain, changes in physical activity, and underlying medical conditions. Susan S. Khalil, MD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, encourages patients who notice irregularities in their cycle to contact a gynecologist.
Get email updates from Mount Sinai