COVID-19 Vaccination in New York State Easy Read Guide

Last Updated: May 2021 

The document was developed by the Young Leaders and Advocates Network, a member agency of Western New York Independent Living, Inc. Family of Agencies. 

The duplication, distribution, and use of the product can be without any notification of the authors or publisher of same.


Melanie Hecker, YLAN Council Member
Brianna Gower, YLAN Director 


  • What is the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • How do I get the COVID vaccine?
  • Scheduling an Appointment
  • What To Expect Before, During and After


he COVID-19 vaccine is a shot. It helps keep you from getting COVID. It teaches your immune system how to recognize the virus and fight it. 

If enough people get the vaccine, there is less chance for it to spread. This means that less people will get sick and the pandemic will end. 

The vaccine is free and safe to get. Doctors and scientists have done lots of work to make sure it is safe to use. The vaccine got tested on a lot of different people. Almost everyone who got the vaccine didn’t get sick. This means that it works! 

All individuals 12 years of age and older that reside in the United States are eligible to receive the vaccine.


In order to get your vaccine, you will need to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are also accepted at all NYS vaccine sites on a first-come-first-serve basis. You can schedule an appointment through: 

  • The New York State Health Department
  • Your county health department
  • Pharmacies and vaccine clinics 

If you are under 18 years old, you can only get the Pfizer vaccine. Studies are still being done to make sure the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are safe for people under 18. The state-run website tells you which vaccine is offered at each site. Counties and pharmacies should be able to tell you as well. 

Note: Places that offer vaccines will ask you for your insurance information. You will not have to pay for the vaccine. They just need your insurance information so they can get money back for giving you the vaccine. If you don't have insurance, you can still get the vaccine for free.


You can schedule an appointment with a state vaccination site by either calling the COVID vaccine hotline or visiting their website: 


Be sure to have ready: 

  • Your birthdate 
  • Your email address and phone number
  • Your health insurance information 


When you call to make an appointment, the person on the phone will ask you a few questions. They will ask you if you have had any COVID symptoms in the last two weeks. If you have, you will need to call back when you are feeling better. 

After, the person on the phone will ask you which of the state-run clinics you want to get your shot at and what time. 

If you need to get two shots, the state will make the second appointment for you 3-4 weeks after your first appointment. 

Once you have answered all the questions the person on the phone has, they will need to read you a lot of legal info about the vaccine. 

When they are finished, they will send a ticket for the appointment to your email address. They will also send a few more questions that you will need to answer online. 


When you get on the website, you will need to click on 
"Make appointment." This will bring you to a page with a list of places where the vaccine is being given. It will also say which places have appointments available. 

Click on "get started" to start scheduling your appointment. You will need to fill out a form with your information. After you submit, it will bring you to a page with a list of vaccine sites with appointments available. The sites closest to you will be listed at the top. From there, you will pick a date and time for your appointment. 

Once you select a date and time, you will need to register for the appointment. There will be a 20-minute countdown in the upper corner. This is how long they will hold the appointment for you while you register. If you need more time, you will be able to extend it. 

The registration will take you through different screening questions. You will also have to fill out information about yourself. When you are done, you will get an email with your ticket. The email will also include instructions for your appointment and what to do next. 


Each county or local government has its own way you can sign up for an appointment. You can go to your county's website for information on getting a vaccine. They should also have a phone number you can call. 

Most counties have a form you can fill out to be notified when an appointment is available. This form does not sign you up for an appointment. This will add you to their list of people who want the vaccine. When appointments are available, they will reach out and tell you how to sign up. 

Vaccines are available at most pharmacies. You can go to to find appointments available near you. You can also check your local pharmacy's website to see if they have appointments available. 

Some groups that serve people with disabilities are holding vaccine clinics just for people with disabilities. Ask your service coordinator if any clinics are running near you. 


Be patient but persistent. 
Check scheduling websites often, and at different times of the day. 

Book whatever appointment you can get.
You can always cancel it if you find one sooner. 

If there are no appointments available near you, try to get one anyways.
Sometimes there are a few available even if it says there isn't. You can also refresh the website to see if any new ones show up. 

Some places will let you get an appointment even if you don't live near it.
Make sure you can get reliable transportation to the site if you do.

If you want to schedule your appointment around the same time as someone else,
pick a date that has a lot of appointments available or is further away. This way, it'll be easier to find times that are close together. 


You will need to complete the NYS Vaccine Form.
This can be found at Print or take a photo of the confirmation. This way, you will not have to fill it out again at the vaccine site. 

All sites will need you to bring proof that you are eligible. This includes proof of identity, age, and residency. The state suggests using a driver's license or passport. You should also bring your insurance information. For more information, visit Make sure you have everything you need for your appointment.

If you start to have COVID symptoms around the time of your appointment, call your healthcare provider before going to get the vaccine. You may need to get a COVID test before you can go. 

If you are under 18, a parent or guardian must provide verbal consent in person or by phone at the appointment. If you are 12-15 years old, you must arrive with a parent or guardian OR with another caregiver who has written approval.


You can bring someone with you to the appointment if you need assistance or for the purpose of consent. However, only people with an appointment will get the vaccine. 

You and the staff at the site will need to wear masks or face coverings. You will also need to stay 6 feet away from others while inside and in lines. 

Try to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. The clinic may have specific instructions on how early you can arrive. This will be in the email they sent you. 

Expect the appointment to last at least 30 minutes. It may take longer if there are a lot of people going that day. 

The clinic may look like a regular building. It might also look like a big tent. No matter what the clinic looks like, people will give you directions to it when you get close. 


The process may look a little different depending on where you get your vaccine. There will be people there that help tell you where to go and what to do. For the most part, this is what an appointment would be like:

There will be a person at the front or at a table for you to check in. They will ask for your ID, ticket, insurance, and proof that you did the survey. Have this information ready. 

Afterwards, the person will tell you where to go for the vaccine. You may have to wait in line. You may also be told to walk straight to where vaccines are being given. This depends on how they are set up. 

When it's your turn, they will clean the area on your arm where they will be giving the shot. You'll feel a quick poke and then it will be over. After your shot, you will be given a vaccination card. Make sure your information is correct. 

Once you are done, you will need to be monitored for 15 minutes. This is to make sure you don't have an allergic reaction. After your time is up, you can leave the clinic. 


After you get your shot, you might feel a little sick in some ways. These are called "side effects." It usually lasts a few hours or a few days. This doesn't mean that you have COVID. This means that your body is building protection.

Side effects might include:

Where you got the shot: 

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling 

The rest of your body:

  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Fever 
  • Chills
  • Nausea 

Some people might have side effects that make them very sick. 
You should call your doctor if: 

  • The redness and tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours 
  • Your side effects are worrying you or don't go away after a few days


Yes. Here's why:

It takes time for the vaccine to build up in your body. People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their final shot. 

Even though the vaccine helps protect you from COVID, you might still be able to give it to others. 

We are still learning how long COVID-19 vaccines can protect people. 

Until we know more, everyone should keep wearing masks and following social distancing rules. 

Doctors will tell us when it is safe to be in public without a mask. 



Together we can protect our communities and stop the pandemic. 

  • Get vaccinated 
  • Wear a mask 
  • Social distance
  • Wash your hands


Your local Independent Living Centers are open and providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact your local center for resources and support navigating the pandemic and getting your vaccine.