(Updated 12/1/2021) We’ve been hearing a lot of promising news lately about the vaccines 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-BioNTech vaccine has been authorized for everyone ages five and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen have been authorized for those 18 years and older.
Is the vaccine safe and effective?
EMI Health looks to the FDA and CDC to determine these factors. CDC reports that these vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Over 459 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States since 12/14/2020. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met the FDA's rigorous scientific standards for safety. The FDA and CDC have found the COVID-19 vaccines to be safe and effective and recommend that everyone age five and over get vaccinated.
Studies that have looked at how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions (vaccine effectiveness studies) provide a growing body of evidence that the vaccines offer similar protection in real-world conditions as they have in clinical trial settings, reducing the risk of COVID-19, including severe illness by 90 percent or more among people who are fully vaccinated. There is also increasing evidence that COVID-19 vaccines provide protection again asymptomatic infections. Vaccination can reduce the spread of disease overall, helping protect people around you.
Of course, some people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still get sick, because no vaccines are 100-percent effective. However, data suggest that vaccination may make symptoms less severe in people who are vaccinated but still get COVID-19.
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. Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine is a single dose. Booster shots are now being recommended for individuals 18 years and older. If your original dose was Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, it is recommended that you get a booster six months after completing your primary vaccination series. If you received Johnson & Johnson's Janssen, you can get your booster two months after receiving your primary vaccination. CDC's recommendations allow people to choose which vaccine to receive as a booster shot and allows for mixing and matching dosing for booster shots.
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.