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What to know if you were vaccinated outside the U.S.

How to go from partially to fully vaccinated, the booster shot, Philly's vaccine rules, and more.

If you were vaccinated in a different country, the advice can be confusing. Here's what you should do
If you were vaccinated in a different country, the advice can be confusing. Here's what you should doRead moreCynthia Greer (Custom credit)

With multiple vaccines available worldwide, it can be hard to know whether you meet U.S. standards. So, if you got vaccinated (or partially vaccinated) in another country, here’s what you need to know: how to complete your course of vaccines and how Philadelphia’s vaccine rules apply to you.

Am I considered vaccinated in the U.S.?

In Philadelphia, you are considered fully vaccinated if you have received a full course of vaccines that are approved by either the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO). If your vaccine is on either list, you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting the final shot, no matter where in the world it was administered.

If your vaccine is not on either list, you’re not considered vaccinated in the U.S. and you will have to start again.

What if I’m only partially vaccinated?

If you arrived in the U.S. partially vaccinated, meaning you received the first shot abroad, you need to get the second dose here to be considered fully vaccinated. Note: the U.S. administers only FDA-approved and authorized vaccines.

If your first vaccine is approved by the FDA:

If you need a second dose of an FDA-approved vaccine:

➡️ Go to any vaccine provider in the city. Bring the COVID-19 vaccination record issued by the foreign country as proof of your first dose. After the second shot, you should get a CDC vaccine card that will show only your second dose. If you are immunocompromised, you may need an additional primary dose after this.

If your first vaccine isn’t approved by the FDA:

If you got one dose of a vaccine approved by WHO, but not authorized by the FDA:

➡️ You should get the Pfizer shot, at least 28 days after your last vaccine, according to the CDC. Bring your foreign vaccination report, and tell the provider what vaccine you received. You will get a CDC vaccine card, listing your second shot. If you are immunocompromised, you may also need an additional primary dose.

If you got one or two doses of a vaccine not recognized by WHO or the FDA:

➡️ Start your vaccines over again. Wait at least 28 days from the date you received the second dose of the non-approved vaccine. Restart the vaccination process with either Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson. You will get a CDC vaccine card that will list the shots you got in the U.S. If you are immunocompromised, it is not recommended that you get an additional primary dose in this case.

What about my booster shot?

For your booster, mixing vaccines is considered OK. All adults who have been fully vaccinated for 5 months (2 months if they received Johnson and Johnson) can get any FDA-approved vaccine as a booster. So, if you were fully vaccinated with Moderna, your booster can be Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson and Johnson. For children ages 12 to 17, however, Pfizer is the only vaccine that has been approved. There is no authorized booster for younger kids. Your booster will also be registered on the CDC vaccine card.

Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine in Philadelphia?

For a list of places to get vaccinated, go to, or go to to find pop-up vaccine clinics. You don’t need to provide an ID, or prove your immigration status, to get a vaccine.

What should I tell my vaccine provider?

  • Your name (for your vaccination card)
  • Information about your previous COVID-19 vaccines: What vaccines you got, the number of doses, and the date you received them.
  • Medical conditions: Whether or not you have a fever, any allergies, family history of disease, or have ever fainted during or after an injection.

Philadelphia vaccine mandate

On Feb. 16, Philadelphia lifted its vaccine mandate. But individual businesses can still require proof of vaccination for both guests and employees if they choose. For the 1,208,229 people who were fully vaccinated in Philadelphia, showing their CDC vaccination card is straightforward, but if you were vaccinated abroad, you may have questions.

What proof of vaccination do I need?

If you received the first dose abroad and the second one in the U.S.:

➡️ Show your CDC card, and the one issued by the foreign country, to prove that you are fully vaccinated.

All COVID-19 vaccination certificates must have:

  1. Your full name, plus one other identifier — such as date of birth or passport number — that matches your ID.

  2. The name of the public health agency, government, or other authorized vaccine providers that issued it.

  3. The vaccine manufacturer and dates of vaccination.

The following all count as proof under the mandate:

  1. The original vaccination record.

  2. An app with a QR code: Meaning, it’s linked to verifiable information confirming it was issued by an official database and is protected from tampering, such as the United Kingdom National Health Service COVID Pass, and the European Union Digital COVID Certificate.

  3. A photo of the original document or a downloaded version of your vaccine certificate from an official public health agency or government.

If your certificate meets those requirements, no matter where you got the vaccine, it counts as proof. A business that has questions about it can call the Philadelphia Department of Public Health at 215-685-5488.

What should I do if I you lose a vaccine certificate issued abroad?

The short answer is to contact the authorities of the country where you were vaccinated. There is really no other option.

The CDC does not maintain vaccination records. It doesn’t even provide the CDC-labeled white cards; it only distributes them to state and local vaccination providers. Therefore, the CDC won’t be able to help if you lose your CDC vaccination card, much less an international-issued certificate.

Likewise, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health does not keep any records from outside Pennsylvania. However, if you lose your CDC vaccination card with the second or both doses in it, it can help you obtain a copy.

What if I am planning on traveling?

Countries have their own requirements for travelers, and what proof of vaccination, and tests, are required. Make sure to check before you book if you are considered fully vaccinated by that country.

This story has been updated since it first published.