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North Texas COVID-19 vaccine guide: Everything you need to know

When, where and how to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Current status

All adults in Texas became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on March 29 after several weeks of phased eligibility rollouts. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 12 and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots are approved for people 18 and older.

What’s the status of booster shots?

The week of September 20, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration approved a plan for certain groups to receive a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot.

According to both agencies, people 65 years and older, residents of long-term care facilities, people aged 18 to 64 with underlying health conditions, and people aged 18 to 64 who are at an increased risk of getting infected with COVID-19 because of their occupational or institutional setting can get a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The recommendation does not apply to the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

For all groups, the booster is recommended at least six months after the second dose of the vaccine is given. Read more about the booster dose recommendation here.

Editor’s note: This guide will continue to be updated as new developments are announced.

What’s inside The Dallas Morning News vaccine guide

We know there’s a lot of information out there about how to get the vaccine, and we’re here to help you navigate it. As your one-stop-shop for the latest news and developments on the vaccine, here’s what you need to know before you go:

Latest updates

Here are the top things you need to know now.

Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine in Dallas-Fort Worth?

(Michael Hogue)

County vaccination clinics

Dallas County: Register online or by calling 855-466-8639.

Tarrant County: Register online or by calling 817-248-6299.

Denton County: Register online or by calling 940-349-2585.

Collin County: Vaccines are being offered in Collin County through the county’s mobile vaccination team. The team is currently focusing on serving homebound individuals, long-term care facilities, businesses and other organizations. Appointments can be made online.

Pharmacies

Albertsons: Appointment availability can be checked online. People can also sign up to receive updates about vaccine availability.

CVS: Vaccines are available at some locations. You can check the CVS website for updates.

H-E-B Pharmacy: Appointments can be scheduled online when vaccines are available.

Kroger: Appointment availability can be checked online.

Sam’s Club: People will be able to schedule vaccine appointments online when doses become available.

Tom Thumb: Appointment availability can be checked online. People can also sign up to receive updates about vaccine availability.

Walgreens: Vaccines will be available at some locations. You can check the Walgreens website for updates.

Walmart: When vaccines are available, people can schedule an appointment online.

City hubs

Garland Health Department: Register online or by calling 972-205-3900.

Other sites

You can also see a map of vaccine availability across the state or check availability using the national vaccine finder.

How were vaccines rolled out?

Before the state opened vaccination up to all adults, the initial rollout was divided into three phases: 1A, 1B and 1C.

Phase 1A, which was announced on Dec. 14, included frontline health care workers, as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities.

On Dec. 29, the state opened up vaccination to people under Phase 1B, which included anyone 65 or older and anyone 16 and older with a medical condition that would put them at a high risk of severe illness if they got COVID-19.

School and licensed childcare personnel became eligible for vaccination on March 3 after a federal directive expanded eligibility. Shortly after, on March 15, the state announced that people under Phase 1C — defined as anyone between the age of 50 and 64 — could also be vaccinated.

Starting March 29, anyone 16 and up could get a COVID-19 shot. On May 10, the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for use in kids aged 12 and older.

(Michael Hogue)

Which vaccines are available? What’s the difference?

There are currently three vaccines available to Texans, one from Pfizer-BioNTech, one from Moderna and one from Johnson & Johnson. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were made with mRNA, or messenger RNA, technology. The groundbreaking technology teaches the body how to create a protein, which in turn generates antibodies and immune cells. That’s different from how other vaccines are made.

Johnson & Johnson used a more established approach to manufacture its vaccine: a common virus that causes cold and flu-like symptom has been modified to include the genetic information for a spike protein found on the virus that causes COVID-19. Once the body makes replicas of the spike protein, the immune system can use them to respond to the real virus.

Federal health officials recommended a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on April 13 to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The 11-day pause was lifted on April 23 after officials decided that J&J’s one-and-done vaccine is critical to fight the pandemic — and that the small clot risk could be handled with warnings to help younger women decide if they should use that shot or an alternative.

You can read more about the differences between the three vaccines in our expanded guide.

How effective are the vaccines?

According to the CDC, mRNA vaccines have been found to reduce the risk of COVID-19, including severe illness, by 90% or more in people who are fully vaccinated.

Clinical trials of the Johnson & Johnson shot found that the vaccine was 66.3% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections. It also has “high efficacy” in preventing hospitalizations and severe illness, the CDC says.

How much does it cost?

The vaccine is free, regardless of insurance status. Learn more here.

What are the side effects and how safe is the vaccine?

Like most vaccines, all three shots may cause mild side effects: pain, swelling and redness in the arm where the dose was received. People also may experience fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea.

In clinical trials of all three vaccines, mild to moderate side effects within a week of vaccination were common, the CDC said. Most side effects, however, usually occur within a day or two and go away in a few days.

Of more than 4 million first doses of the Moderna shot given between Dec. 21 and Jan. 10, only 1,266 serious side effects were reported, or about 0.03% of all people who received a first dose during that time, according to the CDC.

Of more than 1.8 million first doses of the Pfizer shot administered between Dec. 14 and Dec. 23, only 4,393 serious side effects were reported, or about 0.2% of all people who received a first dose during that time, according to the CDC.

In a study of more than 3,300 people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 0.4% reported serious side effects, according to the CDC.

For more information, check our side effects guide.

What are some common misconceptions?

We know there’s a lot of information out there, so we asked North Texas doctors to weigh in on some common myths about the vaccine. Here’s what they told us.

Do I need a second shot?

For maximum immunity, you’ll need to have two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. You also don’t want to mix and match vaccines, experts say. It’s important to receive the doses exactly as they were tested in clinical trials. Read more about that here.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.

When and how do I get my second dose?

People who receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should get their second shots 21 days after the first ones. A follow-up Moderna vaccine should be administered 28 days after the initial dose.

The state says that second doses of the vaccine are allocated to providers based on the number of first doses they received. People should return to the provider where they got their first dose to get their booster shot, the state says.

What happens if I lose my vaccine card?

Health officials say providers can verify a patient’s vaccination status even if they don’t have their card, but that it’s a good idea for patients to bring it to their second dose appointments for their own record keeping. Various providers have steps in place for how patients can request a replacement copy of the card or a record of their vaccination. Read more about that here.

Who should and shouldn’t get the vaccine?

If you have an active COVID-19 infection, you should wait to receive the vaccine. The CDC says you should wait until your symptoms are better or until the recommended isolation period is over before getting your shot.

Children under age 12 are not recommended for the Pfizer shot. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots are approved for those 18 and older.

There are few restriction recommendations for who should not get the vaccine. You can read more about them here.

Is there anything people should not do in the hours or days before and after getting shots?

There are several things people should keep in mind before they get vaccinated.

Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas County’s health director, has said it’s unclear how the coronavirus shots may interact with other vaccinations, so people should not receive another inoculation in the 30 days beforehand.

He also recommended that people who have COVID-19 or have recently been exposed to someone who’s infected wait for before getting inoculated — 90 days if the person is positive for COVID-19 or until the end of a self-quarantine period if they’ve been exposed.

Can I spread COVID-19 if I’m fully vaccinated?

With the emergence of the delta variant, health experts have found that it’s possible for someone who is fully vaccinated to pass along the virus to others.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said that early research has found that a fully vaccinated person who is infected with the delta variant has a similar viral load — or the amount of virus in a person’s body — to an unvaccinated person who is infected, meaning they can still contribute to transmission of the disease.

Read more about the delta variant here.

Do I still have to wear a mask and social distance after I’m fully vaccinated?

In May, the CDC came out with guidance that said fully vaccinated people no longer had to wear masks around others or social distance in any setting.

But the emergence of the delta variant has caused health experts to rethink that recommendation. On July 27, the CDC walked back those guidelines, recommending face coverings even for vaccinated people in parts of the country where coronavirus is surging.

You can view transmission in your area on the CDC’s website.

Can you get a different COVID-19 vaccine later if you’re unhappy with the shot you got?

Health experts discourage comparing vaccines based on efficacy data alone, and say that mixing and matching shots isn’t recommended until more data is available. For now, the CDC says there are only “exceptional situations” where mixing and matching vaccines is acceptable. Read more about that here.

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