Is the vaccine free?
Yes. The vaccine is provided at no cost. Vaccine providers can charge a fee for giving the vaccine, but it’s expected to be covered by insurance, or for those who are uninsured, by a government fund, according to the CDC.
When will the vaccine be available?
Front-line healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff are largely the first who are receiving the vaccine. A committee of experts organized by the CDC called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has issued guidance for how states should plan and deploy the COVID vaccine within their jurisdictions. So, each state will take into consideration the ACIP’s guidance and interpret it in the context of their own local situation and what is best for their state. The ACIP has published recommendations for a phased rollout of the vaccine. It recommends that adults 75 and older and “frontline essential workers,” such as teachers, first responders, and grocery store employees, be the second priority; and that the third priority focus on people ages 65 to 74, plus those 16 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in the second phase, including restaurant and construction workers.
Should I still get vaccinated if I’ve had COVID-19?
Yes. At this time, there isn’t enough information available to say if or for how long after infection someone may be protected from getting COVID-19 again. The current recommendation by the ACIP is to receive the vaccine even if you’ve already had COVID. It is not recommended to take the vaccine during the period of COVID illness itself.
Do I still need to wear a face covering and practice social distancing if I get the vaccine?
Yes. Until we know more about how long someone is protected after receiving the vaccine, people should continue to use all tools to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing, to be safe. As vaccines are distributed more widely some of these requirements may change.
Who should NOT get the vaccine?
According to the ACIP, if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the vaccine’s ingredients, it’s not recommended that you receive that specific vaccine at this time; and if you had a severe reaction after the first shot, you shouldn’t get the second shot. That being said, the vast majority of people with a history of allergies can receive it safely. Until we have more information, those with a history of a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis to any vaccine or injectable medicine should be cautious about getting the vaccine. If that applies to you, discuss with your provider to decide how to proceed. In addition, the ACIP recommends that everyone should be observed for 15 to 30 minutes after the vaccination.
For women who are pregnant, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that the vaccine not be withheld from them, and that a conversation with their doctor prior to vaccination is not required but may be helpful in guiding their decision. The Moderna vaccine is for adults 18 and older, though trials have begun on children ages 12 to 17. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine won’t be available to children under 16 at this time; Pfizer is currently testing it in children as young as 12, and other studies will include even younger children. Before you receive the vaccine, tell the healthcare professional administering the vaccine if you have a fever, have an allergy, are immunocompromised or are on a medicine that affects your immune system. While people who are immunocompromised will be offered the vaccine, we do not yet know how well it works. They should continue to rely on other measures like masks and social distancing for protection. If you recently had another vaccine, for example for influenza, you should wait 14 days before taking this vaccine.
Public health officials recommend a vaccine as the first and best way to protect against COVID-19. “I don’t see the COVID pandemic ending without it; vaccination is a small thing each of us can do to have a huge impact on our community,” says Dr. Marks. “Make sure your friends and family seek out information from reputable sources like the CDC and NewYork-Presbyterian — there is a lot of misinformation out there. NewYork-Presbyterian is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information on the COVID vaccine.”