COVID-19 VACCINE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The federal government, through Operation Warp Speed, has been working since the start of the pandemic to make COVID-19 vaccines available as soon as possible. Although RxAdvance is not actively involved in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, we are committed to providing accurate information and resources regarding your health and safety. Below are answers to commonly asked questions. Regular updates will be made as needed.
Who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccine(s)?
It is important that the initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines be provided to individuals in a fair, ethical, and transparent manner. Based on guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and local governments, recommendations will be made about who should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine initially. Vaccine distribution is conducted at a state (and sometimes county) level.
Distribution of the first COVID-19 vaccine began in December 2020. Currently, distribution is limited to high-risk populations. Once there is ample supply, the goal is to expand eligibility to the general population so that anyone who would like to get vaccinated can do so.
The CDC has stated that there is currently no data regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women. They have also stated that more studies need to be completed before it is safe for children to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Those who receive antibody therapy should delay vaccination by 90 days. If you have questions about your eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine, speak with your healthcare provider or check your state or county Department of Health website for more information.
Where can I get vaccinated?
Distribution is limited at this time. When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more accessible to the general public, please visit your state or county’s Department of Health website to locate vaccine administration sites near you. Check with your healthcare provider, health insurer, local pharmacy, or state or county Department of Health for further guidance.
Should I be concerned about vaccine safety?
No, the safety and efficacy of a vaccine is determined through rigorous evaluation of all scientific information from clinical trials, even after it has been approved. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is internationally respected for its standards in safety, effectiveness, and quality. In order for any drug to be approved by the FDA, it must meet safety standards and pose “no serious safety concerns.”
The FDA has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
During public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, timely availability of medical products, such as vaccines, is especially important. In situations like this, the FDA has the authority to grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of medical products in order to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening conditions when certain criteria are met. EUA approvals are not full FDA approvals.
In order for an EUA to be issued for a vaccine, the FDA must determine that the known potential benefits outweigh the known potential risks. This determination is made by evaluating the clinical trials for safety and the chemistry and manufacturing information for quality and consistency. This information is also reviewed in a public meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which is comprised of external scientific and public health experts from around the country. The FDA takes into account the input from the Advisory Committee in their final determination. Even after EUA approval, manufacturers are expected to continue to gather safety and effectiveness information and pursue full approval.
Post-approval safety monitoring is a federal responsibility, conducted mostly by the FDA and CDC. The COVID-19 vaccines are no different. The CDC and FDA will conduct safety monitoring as the vaccines are distributed in order to rapidly detect safety problems if they exist. They will collect information regarding any side effects from those who have received the vaccine(s) as well as vaccine manufacturers and healthcare providers.
Are there any side effects?
Similar to any other drug, you may experience some side effects, which are normal as your body builds immunity. According to the CDC and FDA, possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccines may include:
- Muscle Pain
- Joint Pain
These side effects are routine and are similar to what you might experience after receiving the flu vaccine. After receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, pain and possible swelling may also occur at the site of injection. To minimize any pain or discomfort, wear light clothing, drink lots of fluids, and continue to use or exercise your arm. You may also apply a cool, wet washcloth over the area.
If your side effects worsen or do not go away after a few days, seek medical attention. Even if you have side effects, it is important to receive the second dose of the vaccine, unless told otherwise by your healthcare provider.
The CDC and FDA will conduct safety monitoring as the vaccines are distributed and will collect information regarding any side effects from those who have received the vaccine(s) as well as vaccine manufacturers and healthcare providers.
How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
Vaccines work by triggering protective immune responses in your body to fight against a virus. Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is important in controlling the spread of the virus. Not only does it reduce your chance of becoming infected with COVID-19, but it also reduces the severity of the virus if you do become infected despite receiving the vaccine(s). Talk to your healthcare provider to see if a COVID-19 vaccine is right for you. For more information on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, visit Pfizer’s website. For more information on the Moderna vaccine, please visit Moderna’s website.
What can I expect when receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?
In many ways, receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will be similar to receiving your annual flu shot. According to the CDC, those who are vaccinated will be given a vaccination card with important information including the name of the vaccine, as well as the date and location where the vaccine was given. Additionally, those who receive a vaccine will be given a fact sheet with more information.
When receiving your vaccine, ask your healthcare provider whether you will require a single dose or multiple doses. All currently available COVID-19 vaccines require two doses. If multiple doses are required, you must receive the doses in the appropriate timeframe in order to receive the full benefit. Plan to get the second dose even if you have side effects after the first one, unless a healthcare provider instructs you otherwise. According to the CDC, mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or with other COVID-19 vaccine products. It is also advised that the COVID-19 vaccine should not be administered within 14 days of administration of other vaccines.
It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines that require two doses may not fully protect you until after your second dose. Even if you have received both doses of the vaccine, please continue to follow CDC safety recommendations, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. The CDC will provide updated recommendations once a large proportion of the population is vaccinated and long-term protection from COVID-19 is proven.
How much money will a COVID-19 vaccine cost me?
COVID-19 vaccines will be provided free of charge to all individuals by the federal government. Insurance companies are also committed to not charging any out-of-pocket fees or co-payments for COVID-19 vaccines. Healthcare providers who administer COVID-19 vaccines must agree to not charge patients any out-of-pocket fees or deny anyone vaccination services. You should not be charged for a COVID-19 vaccination regardless of your health insurance status at the vaccination site.
If I get vaccinated, can I go back to life as usual?
Even if you have been vaccinated for COVID-19, you should continue to follow the CDC’s recommendations on how to protect yourself and others, which include:
- Washing your hands often;
- Avoiding close contact;
- Covering your mouth and nose with a mask when around others;
- Covering coughs and sneezes;
- Cleaning and disinfecting; and
- Monitoring your health daily.
Together, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and following the CDC’s recommendations will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Vaccination does not guarantee that you will not spread the virus to others, even if you are not infected yourself. It is important to practice increased caution especially around high-risk individuals, such as those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly, even if you have been vaccinated for COVID-19.
These recommendations on how to slow the spread of the virus will be updated as we learn more about the long-term protection of COVID-19 vaccines. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus spreads in communities, will also be taken into consideration.
If I have already had COVID-19, should I get vaccinated?
In some cases, when people recover from viral infections, they are protected from getting the infection again and do not need to be vaccinated. However, the CDC is advising that those who have previously been infected with COVID-19 should still receive the vaccine. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if a COVID-19 vaccine is right for you.
How do I report adverse effects from a COVID-19 vaccine?
Safety is a top priority. If you experience adverse effects from a COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your pharmacist or healthcare provider. Your provider will report your incident to Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This national system collects data to look for adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns of occurrence.
The CDC is also implementing a new smartphone-based tool called v-safe to check on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Upon being vaccinated, you should also receive a v-safe information sheet telling you how to enroll. If you enroll, you will receive regular text messages directing you to surveys where you can report any problems or adverse reactions you have after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Reporting such events to VAERS and v-safe help the CDC monitor the safety of vaccines.
Are there populations who should not get vaccinated?
More studies are needed to understand how COVID-19 vaccines will perform in specific populations. If you have questions about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you, check with your healthcare provider. For more information, please refer to the FDA’s Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine fact sheet and Moderna vaccine fact sheet.
What if my local pharmacy is unable to process my claim?
If your pharmacist is having trouble processing your claim for a COVID-19 vaccine, ask your pharmacist to contact RxAdvance’s Pharmacy Help Desk at the phone number found on the back of your Member ID Card.
What if I want more information?
For vaccine and public health information, visit the CDC’s website.
For information on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, visit Pfizer’s website.
For information on the Moderna vaccine, please visit Moderna’s website.
For information on Operation Warp Speed, visit the U.S. Department of Defense’s website.
For local information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and its availability, visit your county or state Department of Health website.