Learn about the COVID-19 Vaccine

What is the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that, along with wearing masks, social distancing, and other healthy measures, can reduce the harm and spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

What is an mNRA vaccine?

mRNA (Messenger RNA) vaccines are made using technology that has been building up over the last 20 years: the science behind DNA and genomic analysis. Currently both of the two vaccines available in the United State (from Pfizer and Moderna) are mRNA vaccines.

How was the vaccine approved?

After Pfizer and Moderna completed the three-phase trials of their vaccines, the clinical data was reviewed by the federal government and then by a vaccine advisory committee independent of the government. Finally, each state developed an independent group of public health experts that then reviewed the data to help determine if the data was strong enough to offer the vaccine to their own residents.

Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Give Me COVID-19?

mRNA vaccines do not contain a live virus and cannot give you COVID-19. One way to think about the mRNA vaccine is that it is like a message that’s sent to your immune system explaining what the virus looks like and instructions on how to kill it. Immediately after your immune system reads the message, it then throws it away. The vaccine does not contain a live virus. 

Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Make Me Sick with Anything Else?

Healthcare providers cannot predict who is going to do well when they contract the virus and who is going to do poorly. The main risk of taking either vaccine is an allergic reaction or some rare side effect, but the risks are much lower than if you contract the virus.

Learn More:

Who Can Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed in phases, starting with groups of people at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure or severe COVID-19 illness. This process will take time, and vaccines are not expected to be widely available to all New Yorkers until mid-2021.

Click here to use the New York State Department of Health tool to check your eligibility. If you believe you or a loved one is eligible, but the screening tool does not list you as eligible, call the COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829) from 7am–10pm, 7 days a week.


Click here to see the full qualifications for the vaccine. Some conditions must be considered “severe” in nature to qualify. Review the Eligibility Guidelines or the NYS Screening Tool for more information. As of February 15, 2021, some groups in particular that qualify are:

  • Adults who are 65 years of age and older
  • Health care workers
  • First responders and essential workers
  • People with underlying conditions such as:
    1. Cancer (current or in remission)
    2. Chronic kidney disease
    3. Pulmonary disease
    4. Intellectual and developmental disabilities
    5. Heart conditions
    6. Immunocompromised state (including HIV)
    7. Severe Obesity
    8. Pregnancy
    9. Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
    10. Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
    11. Cerebrovascular disease
    12. Neurologic conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia
    13. Liver Disease

Where Can I Get the Vaccine?

It is possible for you to make your own appointments for vaccines at various sites set up by the City:

Please note that you may need documentation showing you qualify for a vaccine. Please click here who currently qualifies for the vaccine.

What do I Bring to My Appointment?

Once you have an appointment, please be sure to bring the necessary documentation with you.

  1. Any form of ID issued by New York State or Federal Government (Click “Eligibility and Scheduling”)
  2. Documents for eligibility including proof of job, age, or other medical risk factors listed above. Note: some sites also require documents to prove area of residence such as:
    • State or government-issued ID
    • Consulate ID (if New York address is displayed)
    • Statement from landlord
    • Current rent receipt or lease
    • Mortgage records
    • or provide two of the following: Statement from another person; Current mail; School records
  3. Complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form. New York State requires the provider administering the vaccine to check that you completed the form.
  4. Certification of Eligibility for COVID-19 Vaccine Due to Comorbidities or Underlying Condition (PDF) for those who qualify with a medical condition
  5. Wear a face mask, because you will not be allowed entry to a vaccine site without one.