The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has been heralded as the number one advance in our fight against this deadly disease. But, while the vaccine presents a positive avenue to control the virus, many citizens have questions that they want to be answered before agreeing to get their shots. This is especially true for those people considered to be in the at-risk category that includes seniors and those dealing with serious illnesses.

Wanting to know what to expect from any vaccine is perfectly natural. And, because the COVID-19 vaccine is so new, the medical community wants the public to be as well informed as possible. It is important to remember that without any long-term follow-up data, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be releasing updated information as it becomes available. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will continue to provide updated information on Medicare coverage for how and when recipients become eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some people may have health conditions that will disqualify them from getting the vaccine. Therefore, it is important to discuss your individual health history with your personal health care provider to determine if you are a good candidate for getting the vaccine.

The following information outlines five major things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine to help you stay up-to-date and well-informed.

5 COVID-19 Vaccine Facts

1.  Vaccine availability:
The first FDA approved vaccine is from the Pfizer pharmaceutical firm and it began administering vaccinations during the week of December 14th. An additional vaccine from Moderna was granted emergency approval by the FDA later that week, and additional vaccines are currently being evaluated for approval by the FDA. Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the FDA Commissioner has stated that when the pending vaccines are approved, they can be available for release within a few weeks. Dr. Hahn anticipates that one-third of the American population will be inoculated by the end of March 2021.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. After the first shot is given, a second shot is given 3 to 4 weeks later. Because each vaccine firm has its own unique ingredients, you should get both doses from the same pharmaceutical firm. You will be protected from the virus after the second dose. At the current time, it is not known how long the vaccine will remain effective in the body and there are no plans for future inoculations like the annual flu shot.

2.  Priority of vaccine distribution:
The CDC, together with other medical professionals, have determined that first-line medical providers and those seniors living in long-term assisted care facilities will be the first to receive the vaccine. After this first wave of vaccinations, seniors and adults with underlying medical illnesses will receive the vaccine. The next group of recipients will be the general public aged 15 years and older.

Even when the vaccine is available to the general public, there will be some people who should not take the vaccinations. People with allergies, diabetes, or chronic diseases, and pregnant women need to talk with their personal health care provider to evaluate their risk factors for potential side-effects or interference with current medications or medical treatments. People with these considerations should get their shots at a medical facility where they can be observed for adverse reactions for a short period of time after being injected.

3.  Where to get the vaccine:
When the vaccine is available for your age or health group, it will be given at hospitals, medical facilities, and clinics within national pharmacy chains such as Walmart and CVS. You can call your personal health care provider to find out where to get your vaccine. It is always a good idea to call ahead or use the facility’s website to make an appointment for your shots. Until everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, you will need to continue wearing a mask, to practice social distancing, to wash your hands frequently, and continue to disinfect commonly used surfaces.

4.  Potential side-effects:
As with all vaccinations, there is a small portion of the population that will experience side-effects. The most common side-effects that typically go away within 2 days are:
• Feeling sluggish for 1 to 2 days
• Tenderness at the injection site
• Low-grade fever
• Chills
• Muscle aches
Always call your personal health care provider for immediate care if your side-effects get worse or last longer than 2 days.

5.  Vaccine cost:
The federal government is making the vaccine free to all Americans. While there is no co-pay or cost to you for the vaccinations, Medicare coverage will be paying an administrative fee to all authorized medical personnel, facilities, and pharmacy clinics for giving the shots.

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