Updated April 7, 2023

COVID-19 vaccines help prevent getting very sick, going to the hospital or even dying from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines may also reduce the risk of post-COVID conditions (“long COVID”). There are vaccines available for people age 6 months and older. 

What vaccines do you need? 

See the latest recommendations from the CDC

Where to get a vaccine

You can get a vaccine from your healthcare provider, at pharmacies and grocery stores, or community clinics. Vaccines will be free for everyone as long as the supply of federally purchased vaccines lasts.

  • Find a vaccination site using vaccine.gov
  • Upcoming COVID-19 Clinics
  • Call 211 or 1-866-698-6155 to find a clinic or pharmacy near you.
  • Call Multnomah County’s Community Immunization Clinic, 503-988-4724.

Side effects and serious reactions

You may experience some side effects, such as a sore arm, headache, tiredness, or a low fever. Side effects are common in any vaccine and are a sign your body is building protection against disease. Side effects usually go away on their own within a few days. If they don’t, call your doctor or clinic. If you don’t have a doctor, call 211 for help finding one.

Serious safety problems are rare

Hundreds of millions of people have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine. The current authorized and approved vaccines in the United States continue to be monitored for safety. In rare cases, some people have experienced serious health events after getting vaccinated. Learn more about the types of adverse events that have been reported. 

Allergic reactions

It is rare, but some people have had a severe allergic reaction within a few minutes of getting vaccinated. That is why everyone is asked to wait for 15 to 30 minutes before you leave after getting the vaccine. 

You can reduce your risk by telling the vaccinators if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or other injection. 

Children and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Clinical trials have shown COVID vaccines to be safe for children over 6 months old. A COVID-19 vaccination can: 

  • Keep your child from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19
  • Help keep your child in school and other activities and reduce child care challenges. 
  • Lower the chance of spreading COVID-19 to others

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Children and Teens (CDC)


COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for people who:

  • are pregnant, 
  • were recently pregnant (including those who are breastfeeding), 
  • are trying to become pregnant now, or 
  • might become pregnant in the future.

Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely than others to get seriously ill or go to the hospital from COVID-19. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are also more likely to have their baby too early (preterm birth) or have other adverse pregnancy outcomes. 

You and your baby are at greater risk from having COVID-19 than you are from taking the vaccine. Also, the antibodies you make from the vaccine may pass to your baby and offer some protection from COVID-19 for your newborn.

There is no evidence that the vaccines will affect your ability to get pregnant or have babies. 


You do not have to postpone or stop breastfeeding if you get a vaccine. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot can help keep you from getting COVID-19 and can help protect your baby. You can share disease fighting antibodies through breast milk with your newborn and help protect them. 

COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding 

Vaccines and underlying medical conditions

Current safety data for people whose immune functions are lowered by HIV, certain medicines, or an autoimmune disease shows that severe reactions are rare. People with these conditions are recommended to get a vaccine if they have no other reason not to. 

If you have an underlying medical condition: 

  • Talk to your healthcare provider for vaccination advice, including the best time to get a vaccine. If you are on medications that affect your immune system there may be specific times to receive your vaccine for it to work the best for you.
  • Let the person giving you the vaccination know about all your allergies and health conditions. 

Learn more: Vaccine Considerations for People with Underlying Medical Conditions.

About the vaccines

All of the authorized and approved COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death. They help our bodies develop immunity without us having to get the illness. 

Understanding how COVID-19 vaccines work (CDC)

Speed of development

How was the COVID vaccine developed so quickly? Cooperation between researchers, the government and private companies shortened the usual timeline for vaccine development.

The COVID-19 vaccines 

  • are based on decades of existing research. 
  • have gone through all the usual steps for approving a vaccine.
  • have been studied and tested for safety in large-scale clinical trials. 
  • have now been administered to more than 5 billion people worldwide.

The safety and effectiveness of vaccines continues to be monitored after they are given to the public. 

Still have questions? 

Choosing to get the vaccine is an important decision, whether it is for yourself or for someone in your family. If you have questions about the vaccine, discuss your options with your healthcare provider, a pharmacist, a school nurse or visit Statewide Safe + Strong.

If you don't have a doctor, call 211 for help finding care. They can help you even if you don't have health insurance. You can also call the Health Department's Community Health Center at 503-988-5558 to enroll as a new patient.