COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A
What is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine helps the body develop immunity to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine provides you protection from COVID-19. It is important to note that you cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine itself. The vaccines are safe and effective. We encourage our members and providers to get vaccinated.
After you receive any vaccine, your body begins the process of building immunity, which can sometimes cause you to experience mild side effects. This is normal and a sign that the vaccine works for you. If you do experience side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, they will be similar to the symptoms that many other common vaccines often cause, such as temporary soreness in your arm, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache.
Do I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine? What about the booster?
No, members will not have to pay cost sharing for COVID-19 vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pursuant to their emergency use authorization.
Which vaccines are currently available? Are any COVID-19 vaccines fully approved by the FDA?
COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are available. It is important to get the first vaccine that is available to you, as they all offer strong protection against hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine received full approval from the FDA for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals ages 5 and up. For individuals ages 12 through 15, and for certain immunocompromised individuals receiving a third dose, the Pfizer vaccine remains available under emergency use authorization. COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have received emergency use authorization from the FDA for individuals 18 years and older.
Should I get my child or grandchild vaccinated against COVID-19?
According to the CDC, the vaccine can help protect children from getting infected with COVID-19, reducing their risk of severe disease and hospitalization. The FDA and CDC recommends everyone ages 5 and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For children ages 5 and older, an age-appropriate dose of the Pfizer vaccine is now available. Visit www.vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find a vaccine appointment near you.
COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have not yet received emergency use authorization from the FDA for individuals ages 5-11 years old. We will continue to monitor federal and state guidelines for updates.
Visit the CDC to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens.
When and where can I get vaccinated?
People age 12 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For children ages 5 and older, an age-appropriate dose of the Pfizer vaccine is also now available. Visit mass.gov to find out where the COVID-19 vaccine is available in your area.
I’ve heard that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are better than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Is that true?
No. All three vaccines protect you against severe illness due to COVID-19, which may lead to hospitalization and death. Their effectiveness numbers are slightly different for many reasons, namely:
They were tested among different populations and in different countries.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested when there was widespread transmission of more contagious and deadly variants of the virus.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested when there was a different, and perhaps higher, level of transmission in the community, which may have impacted the test results.
To remain healthy, it’s important to get the first vaccine that you are eligible to receive in your state or community. This will help protect you, and potentially your loved ones, from the virus.
Are there any vaccines that do not require two doses?
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine requires only one dose. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses; if you receive one of these vaccines, you should get the second dose at the recommended time. You should get whichever vaccine is available in your community.
Do I need to get two shots or doses?
If you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, it is important to get the two recommended doses. If you only receive one dose, your body may not develop the immunity that protects you from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, leaving you more vulnerable to infection by the variant strains of the virus. This will help protect you, and potentially your loved ones, from the virus.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
I get sick from the flu shot. Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick?
Like many other vaccines, you may experience side effects while your body is building immunity. Temporary soreness in your arm, fever, chills, tiredness and headache are all normal and should go away after a few days. If you have worrisome side effects that do not go away after a few days, or severe headaches/pain that start six or more days after your vaccine, contact your primary care provider.
How often will I need to get the vaccine?
We don’t yet know. Because the virus is so new, researchers will need time to monitor its response to determine how long the vaccine will protect you from the virus.
COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are recommended for:
- Those 12 and older who had their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least five months ago
- Those 18 and older who had their second dose of the Moderna vaccine at least five months ago
- Those 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago
If you have any questions about whether a booster is right for you, please contact your physician.
We will continue to monitor federal and state guidelines for more information on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for other populations. Visit the CDC’s website for the most up-to-date information.
I’m eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. Does it need to be from the same maker (i.e., Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson) as my initial vaccine?
No. The CDC’s recommendations allow individuals who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose.
Can I receive the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?
Yes, you can have the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same visit. Generally, the potential side effects after receiving both vaccines are the same as when they are given alone. Visit the CDC to learn about this season’s flu vaccine.
How do we know that the vaccine is safe?
We understand that you may have concerns about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. A safety review was part of the FDA emergency use authorization process, and the FDA continues to actively monitor for safety. We encourage you to visit the CDC website for information about COVID-19 vaccine safety and benefits, frequently asked questions and more.
What can I do after I’ve been fully vaccinated for COVID-19?
The CDC has provided guidelines for what you should and should not do once you’ve been fully vaccinated. These guidelines will help keep you and others safe during the remainder of the pandemic.
Will I receive anything to serve as proof of my vaccination?
At your vaccine appointment, you will receive a COVID-19 vaccination record card. The card will show your name and date of birth, as well as which COVID-19 vaccine you received, where you received it and the date of your vaccination. If you need to return for a second dose of the vaccine, the card will serve as a reminder; be sure to bring the card to your second appointment.
Please do not post pictures of your vaccination record card on social media or share proof of your immunization publicly. This is considered sensitive information that may put you at risk for vaccine scammers and identify theft.
We encourage you to hold on to your vaccine card and keep it with your personal records. The CDC offers tools to help you keep your vaccine records up to date.