COVID-19 Resource Center

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Vaccine Safety - Animated Video
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Vaccine Development Process - Animated Video

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs 

We are actively monitoring COVID-19 vaccine developments. Below you will find helpful information and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

Covid-19 Vaccine-Member FAQs (March 2021)

We have a COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce comprised of experts, including clinicians, health plan leadership, and pharmacy network team members that meets regularly to discuss the latest developments and plan support. We are monitoring government guidance at the federal and state levels. We are taking steps to ensure you have the information you need as the information and guidelines are made available by federal and state agencies.

Vaccine Development and Distribution 

Operation Warp Speed (OWS) was set up by the White House to coordinate efforts among federal government entities, states, and private sector partners. It aims to accelerate the testing, supply, development, and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

There are many government agencies involved in helping with the COVID-19 pandemic. A few of the key agencies are listed below for your reference:

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available?

Currently there are two vaccines authorized by the FDA and recommended by CDC/ACIP to prevent COVID-19. These are the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine. All other vaccines in development are expected to be reviewed for FDA approval in 2021.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes, according to the FDA the vaccine is safe.  The FDA has a process for ensuring that all vaccines are safe before they can be used in the United States. These include clinical trials involving tens of thousands of volunteers who were followed after receiving the vaccine. Trial participants included people from many racial and ethnic backgrounds, and the trials were evaluated for both safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Who will get the vaccine first?

The Baker-Polito administration has laid out its plan for the vaccine distribution here in the Commonwealth and is based upon the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. The groups are listed in order of priority.

 

Phase 1 (Currently open)

  • Clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers doing direct COVID-19 care
  • Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted care facilities
  • First responders (EMS, fire and police)
  • Congregate care facilities (includes corrections and shelters)
  • Home-based healthcare workers
  • Healthcare workers doing non-COVID-19 facing care

 

Phase 2 (Currently open)

  • Group 1: Individuals 75+
  • Group 2: Individuals 65+, individuals with 2 or more comorbidities (are at an increased risk for severe illness)

Not yet eligible: 

  • Early education and K-12 workers, transit, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works and public health workers
  • Individuals with one comorbidity

 

Phase 3 (Expected to begin April 1)

  • Vaccine available to general public

 

For more detailed information, please go to https://www.mass.gov/info-details/when-can-i-get-the-covid-19-vaccine

Can children get the vaccine?
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in people age 16 years and older.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in people age 18 years and older.

Most of the clinical trials for the vaccine have only been in adults so we need more studies before children under 16 can get the vaccine.

How will the vaccine be distributed?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a plan for vaccine distribution, which you can read in more detail at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-updates-and-information.

There are vaccine distribution sites throughout the Commonwealth. Find a location near you at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-locations-for-individuals-in-phase-1#find-a-location-to-get-vaccinated-if-eligible-.

How can I find where I can get a vaccine?

There are vaccine distribution sites throughout the Commonwealth. Find a location near you at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-locations-for-individuals-in-phase-1#find-a-location-to-get-vaccinated-if-eligible-.

How many doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?

Most of the vaccines require two injections, or shots. Right now, there is just one vaccine in development that is a single shot version.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a 2-dose series, 21 days apart. Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a 2-dose series, 28 days apart.

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist when you get your first injection. They can help you understand if and when you have to return to get your second dose. When you get your vaccine, ask for your vaccination card. This will be the record of the vaccine type you received, manufacturer information, date of first vaccine, and date for your expected second vaccination. It is very important to get both doses for two-step vaccines to work.

How much will the vaccine cost?

There will be no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine.

What are the side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine? What should I do if I have side effects?

This vaccine is safe. It has gone through all the proper safety regulations, and any side effects are temporary.

Some side effects for the Moderna vaccine are:

  • Injection site pain and redness
  • Fatigue
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Headache

Some side effects for the Pfizer vaccine are:

  • Injection site pain, redness and swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Headache

These are similar to those when you get a flu shot. For the Pfizer vaccine, the FDA has indicated that patients with a known history of a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not take it. If you have any questions on vaccine components or if you should take it, call your doctor.

Can I get sick with COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine contains the live COVID-19 virus. There is no risk of getting infected with COVID-19 from receiving either vaccine.

You may have time-limited side effects of injection site pain/redness/swelling, fever, joint/muscle pain, body aches, nausea headache and fatigue. These are signs that your body is building an immune response. For the Pfizer vaccine, the FDA has indicated that patients with a known history of a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not take it. If you have any questions on vaccine components or if you should take it, call your doctor.

Do I need to wear a mask when I get a COVID-19 vaccine? Do I need to wear a mask after I get the vaccine?

No. Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine contains the live COVID-19 virus. There is no risk of getting infected with COVID-19 from receiving either vaccine.

You may have time-limited side effects of injection site pain/redness/swelling, fever, joint/muscle pain, body aches, nausea headache and fatigue. These are signs that your body is building an immune response. For the Pfizer vaccine, the FDA has indicated that patients with a known history of a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not take it. If you have any questions on vaccine components or if you should take it, call your doctor.

Do I need to wear a mask when I get a COVID-19 vaccine? Do I need to wear a mask after I get the vaccine?

Yes. Even after you are vaccinated, it’s important to continue to wear a mask and social distance. There is data that shows the vaccines are effective in helping prevent vaccinated people from getting sick from COVID-19. But there are not yet studies to show that vaccinated people don’t transmit COVID-19.

Because we don’t have data on this, you should continue to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth and continue to follow social distancing guidelines. You should do this when in contact with others outside your household, when in healthcare facilities, and when receiving any vaccine. Once you receive all vaccine doses, it’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic. This includes:

  • Covering your mouth and nose with a mask
  • Washing your hands often
  • Staying at least 6 feet away from others
  • If you’re sick, stay at home and call your doctor
I already had COVID-19 and recovered. Do I still need to get a vaccine?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated even if you have had had COVID-19. Talk to your doctor if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

How long does it take for me to be protected after getting my first shot?

The vaccine trials showed that it takes a few weeks for your body to begin creating antibodies, etc. People should know they are still susceptible days after their first shot.

Can I take Tylenol® or Motrin® before I get my vaccine?

If your doctor has told you it is safe for you to use Tylenol® or Motrin® when needed, you can take either to help reduce pain at the injection site.

Is it safe for pregnant woman to get the vaccine?

Pregnant women did not participate in the vaccine trials, but pregnant women are at higher likelihood of worse outcomes from COVID-19. Please consult with your primary care provider or obstetrician (OB/GYN) for guidance on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant.

How long does the vaccine work for?

Experts still need to collect more data from vaccine trials to know how long protection will last.

Is one vaccine better than the other?

No. The vaccine trials for each report similar results: Each one is 95% effective, and both have had similar mild side effects reported.

If you have additional questions, please call Member Services at 1-888-794-7268 (TTY 711). We’re here 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Or you can use the resources listed below to find out more information about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Resources:

CDC Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination 

ACIP Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Vaccines Presentation

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Overview

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Overview 

Mass.gov COVID-10 Updates and Information 

Moderna Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers

 

 

H2224_2021_18004_C Approved 01/29/2021