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What to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are here. Here’s what you need to know.

COVID-19 vaccines are here and being given to people across the country. Different states and regions have different vaccination plans, and things are changing so quickly that it can be a lot to keep up with. We’re here for you and will provide important updates to help keep you informed, safe, and healthy.

The CDC has made recommendations for who should be vaccinated first, starting with healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, followed by essential workers and people over age 65. Because you are on Medicare, you’re likely in a high-priority group as designated by the CDC.

Here’s what we know about the vaccine so far.

What We Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

  • The first 2 vaccines (from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) require 2 doses. When you get your vaccine, be sure to find out how many doses you need. It’s extremely important that you get both doses of a vaccine that requires 2 doses. You will not be fully protected with only 1 dose of a 2-dose vaccine.
  • States and regions are distributing the COVID-19 vaccine differently so as many Americans as possible receive the vaccine. The CDC recommends checking your state's health department website to find out when it's your turn to get the vaccine, register to get vaccinated, and find vaccine locations for your area. From there, you can look for available appointments at vaccine sites. (Health departments websites for all of the states we currently serve are listed below, under When Can I Get the Vaccine?)

We at Clover strongly encourage you to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available to you. We know how important the vaccine is to protect your health and safety. We also want to remind that it’s still necessary to maintain social distance, wash or sanitize hands often, and wear a mask to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19. Click to see the updated CDC mask guidelines, which call for wearing a more snugly fitting mask and/or more mask layers.

At Clover, our doctors and healthcare professionals who care for you—our members—are also being vaccinated so we can deliver the best possible care to you. Here are some of the reasons why the vaccine is so important.

Why We Recommend Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

  1. The vaccine is safe and is the result of years of scientific breakthroughs. The first two vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have been created based on the latest and greatest scientific advances over the last 5 years. Scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals were able to quickly understand what the virus looks like, how it’s structured, and how it infects us—and these vaccines target the part of the virus that allows it to infect our bodies. Clinical trials and testing of the vaccine began very quickly around the world, and over 30,000 people got the vaccine during testing. As of mid-January, over 20 million Americans have received their first dose of the vaccine and more than half a million are fully vaccinated. These numbers are growing every hour.
  2. The vaccine works. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have proven to be 94–95% effective in preventing the COVID-19 disease. We also know that it is effective for older adults, people of color, and people with chronic conditions, because large numbers of those groups participated in the studies.
  3. Serious side effects are rare. With millions of vaccine doses received, we are seeing very low rates of allergic reactions, and everyone is observed for 15 minutes after their shot to keep them safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the scientific community are closely monitoring for other serious side effects. To date, no other serious side effects have been reported.

Even with all of the research and studies, there have been lots of questions about the vaccine. We’re answering some of the most commonly asked questions to help you better understand the vaccine.

When Can I Get the Vaccine?

If you’re not sure when you will be able to get the vaccine, the CDC recommends checking your state’s health department website. (See below.) You can also find out when it's your turn to get the vaccine, register to get vaccinated, and find vaccine locations for your area on these websites. From there, you can look for available appointments at vaccine sites in your area. We encourage you to keep trying until you are able to book a vaccine appointment. We recommend also checking with your local pharmacy to find out if they have appointments available. You can find out which pharmacies are receiving increased vaccine supplies through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program website.

Here is where our members can find vaccine information for their states:

COVID-19 Vaccine Questions and Answers

Does the COVID-19 vaccine really work?

These first two vaccines are based on the latest science, and very large clinical trials have proven to have high rates of effectiveness. We are very confident that you will not get COVID-19 from the vaccine. And while it’s still too early to say that someone who has been vaccinated will not become infected, we can say with confidence that if you are vaccinated you will not develop serious disease.

Should I still get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have serious underlying conditions?

The COVID-19 vaccine has been tested and has shown to be effective and well-tolerated by patients with conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. If you are receiving active treatments that suppress your immune system, such as medications for organ transplants, active cancer treatments or management of autoimmune diseases, then COVID-19 vaccination is still recommended. However, in these cases, the timing of when and how you receive the vaccine should be coordinated with your doctor.

When will I be protected after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?

Individuals who receive the COVID-19 vaccine are considered to be protected from developing moderate or severe disease 14 days after full immunization. For the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, full immunization is after your second dose. Given the challenges of vaccine access, we believe that a delay in the timing of your second dose will still offer protection, but protection is based on 2 doses. We expect a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) to be approved soon and the timing of protection would be 14 days after your vaccine.

Even after vaccination, we urge you to continue to wear a mask and maintain social distance, especially when around others who have not been fully immunized.

If I’ve already had COVID-19, do I still need the vaccine?

Even if you’ve already had COVID-19 infection, studies so far indicate that the immune response from the vaccine is stronger and longer lasting. The CDC recommends vaccination even for those who have already had COVID-19. We are still learning how long immune protections from natural infection or a vaccine will last, but so far, it appears that natural infection immunity may only last several months.

Are there side effects from the vaccine?

So far millions of people have gotten the vaccine and the most common side effects are pain and swelling at the injection site. In some cases, people develop flu-like symptoms, which can include fever, but these symptoms pass within a few days. Overall, we are seeing a rate of side effects that’s less than 2%. The most serious side effect of the COVID-19 vaccines have been allergic reactions—although the odds of having an allergic reaction are extremely low—and a 15-minute observation is required after getting the vaccine to be safe.

Is this a hoax? Am I part of an experiment?

All of the evidence supports how effective and safe the vaccine is, which is why scientists, doctors, and healthcare workers are first in line to get the vaccine. Especially for those over age 65 or who have chronic medical conditions, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. COVID-19 is a completely new virus, and it is causing significant rates of illness and death across the world. In addition to causing death, there are serious long-term side effects from COVID-19, including heart, brain, and kidney damage—and we are not seeing those same long-term effects as a result of the vaccine. We strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccination for all of our members.

If I get the vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask?

While we have great confidence that COVID-19 vaccination will prevent you from getting serious COVID-19 disease, we know that this virus is being spread by people who are infected but have no symptoms. Even though you may be protected from getting disease, vaccination may not prevent you from carrying the virus and spreading it to others. The CDC recommends that we all continue to wear masks, wash hands often, and practice social distancing, even after getting the vaccine. We are hopeful that this will change as more and more people are vaccinated and the rates of COVID-19 infection in our communities drop significantly. You can be a part of helping us get there.

Will I be charged when I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

You can get your COVID vaccine free of charge at a location that is most convenient for you—don't wait. For Clover Health members, there is no copay to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information on the vaccine and the virus, visit our COVID-19 resource center. We’ll continue to send our members updates from Clover Health with new information. And as always, we’re here to answer any questions you have about your Clover Health coverage. Just give us a call at 1-888-778-1478 (711).*

Updates from Dr. Sophia Chang. Dr. Chang is the Chief Clinical Informatics Officer at Clover Health, a tech company that manages care for its members as a Medicare Advantage plan. She brings clinical perspectives into Clover’s technology platform to improve care delivery and patient outcomes. Dr. Chang continues to practice general internal medicine at San Francisco General Hospital as a UCSF faculty member.

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