A lot of information has been released about the current and future COVID-19 vaccines. When there is a flood of information, it is possible to get confused about who, what, when, where, and how the vaccines will protect against or prevent infection from the actual virus. We have centered our attention on the five medical and governmental things that seniors with or without Medicare coverage want to know about the vaccines.

Five Things to Know

1.  Who can get the Vaccine?
Ideally, everyone needs to be vaccinated. However, at the current time, the vaccines are prioritized into three separate phase groups labeled as Phase 1A, Phase 1B, and Phase 1C.
• Phase 1A includes health care workers and those residents living in long-term care facilities.
• Phase 1B includes seniors aged 75 years and older, and those frontline workers deemed essential. Essential workers are determined by each state’s governing body.
• Phase 1C includes seniors aged 65 years and older, and those individuals with high-risk conditions aged 16 through 64 years.

These three groups cover an estimated 200 million individuals currently living in the United States. Vaccinations for the rest of the population will be considered in a Phase 2 group with a date yet to be decided.

2.  What does the Vaccine do?
The COVID-19 vaccine intentionally injects an inactive form of the coronavirus causing germ that then lets your body’s immune system produce antibodies to protect you from or to quickly fight off the infectious disease if you do come in contact with the germs. It works in the same fashion as a shingles or flu vaccine.

In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, the length of time that a person is protected from the virus after being vaccinated is not known. Because of this unknown period of protection, anyone who has already had the virus should consult with their primary healthcare provider to determine if they should get the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing to monitor and track the effectiveness of the vaccine and will update the public if there is a need for periodic vaccinations in the future. The main purpose for getting individuals vaccinated is to slow, minimize, and control the spread of this pandemic.

It is important to remember that the protection of your vaccinations will take some time to become fully effective. You can help protect yourself from potential infection by maintaining your personal preventive actions such as frequent handwashing, social distancing, and mask-wearing. As a community, these actions will help us all get to the other side of this pandemic in a shorter period of time so that we can go back to our former, mask free lives.

  1. When to get the Vaccine
    Individuals, especially seniors and those with health risks, are encouraged to get their vaccines as soon as their phase groups are open. Anyone with underlying health issues or who have had known allergic reactions to any of the vaccine ingredients may not be good candidates for the COVID-19 vaccine, and they should consult with their personal medical provider about their concerns.4.  Where to get the Vaccine
    Each state, territory, and the District of Columbia will determine the vaccine distribution locations. You can go to your state’s vaccine dashboard to find the nearest distribution location to your address or zip code. Due to the limited current number of available vaccines, people who are eligible for vaccinations according to the active phase plans within their community must go online and register for an appointment. Because health care facilities and certain pharmacies are giving vaccines by appointments only, walk-ins and telephone requests for vaccinations are not being accepted at this time.

    While you will need to make your appointment electronically for the first vaccine, your second vaccine appointment will be scheduled at the time of the first injection. This two-step process is for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. When future vaccines are approved for the public and if they only require a single injection, then additional appointments may not be required.

    5.  How much does the Vaccine cost?
    During the pandemic, the vaccines will be free. That means that people with Medicare coverage, those with private or public insurance plans, and those who are uninsured will not have to pay for their vaccinations. Once the pandemic has been contained and there is no longer an emergency use authorization required from the FDA, there may be a fee for the vaccines for those people who are uninsured. But, those with Medicare coverage will continue to receive vaccinations at no cost.

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