We’ve been hearing a lot lately about promising news for a vaccine against coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. Of course, there are still a lot of questions as well. We want to help answer as many of those as we can, based on what the experts at the FDA, CDC, and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) are telling us.
Has a vaccine been approved?
The Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval for individuals 16 and over and Emergency Use Authorization for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have received FDA-approved Emergency Use Authorization. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended the vaccine for everyone 12 and older.
Will the vaccine be both safe and effective?
EMI Health looks to the FDA and CDC to determine these factors. In April, Pfizer reported its vaccine had 91.3-percent efficacy against COVID-19 and found it to be 100 percent effective in preventing severe disease as defined by the CDC. Moderna announced that its vaccine is 90 percent effective against coronavirus and 95 percent effective against severe disease. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 72 percent effective in preventing coronavirus and 86 percent effective against moderate and severe disease, according to the FDA.
Where can I get a vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are being offered by county health departments, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers. You may find a vaccine near you at https://vaccinefinder.org/.
How much will the vaccine cost and will it be covered by my health plan?
To ensure that cost is not an obstacle to getting vaccinated, the government purchased vaccine doses with taxpayer dollars, which will be given at no cost. However, vaccination providers may charge administration fees for giving the shot. EMI Health medical plans will cover approved COVID-19 vaccines at 100 percent when received from a participating provider or pharmacy. Vaccines received from non-participating providers will be paid at 100 percent up to the plan's maximum allowable charge (MAC).
Will I need more than one vaccine?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two shots. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose. Booster shots are now being recommended for certain at-risk individuals. Viruses tend to mutate over time, plus we do not yet completely understand how long the vaccinations may provide protection from COVID-19. This is a matter that will continue to be studied by the medical and scientific communities.
Where can I get more information?
The CDC COVID-19 FAQ page is a good place to start. State and local health departments also have resources to provide additional information on COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC provides a link to accredited State Departments of Health, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials provides links to local health departments. EMI Health will continue to share information as it becomes available, including on our COVID-19 blog.