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5 Things You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine and Variants

Why the vaccine is more important than ever, what to know about the COVID-19 variants and Delta variant, and what you can do to help protect yourself this fall and winter.

By Dr. Sophia Chang

You’ve probably been hearing a lot of news about COVID-19, the vaccine, and the Delta and other variants. It can be hard to keep up and to make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Newer variants, or versions, of the virus are more contagious and spread quicker, so getting vaccinated is more important than ever before. And with flu season coming up, staying safe and healthy is a top priority.

Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe this season.

1. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and they work.

The vaccines are safe and effective at protecting you from COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death. The Pfizer vaccine has been formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration—confirming that it is no longer considered “early” or experimental. The FDA reported that the vaccine was proven to be 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in clinical trials. They shared that they have systems in place to make sure safety concerns are addressed quickly. All of the vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States have proven to be highly effective against severe COVID infection with very low risk. So far, more than 200 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, and serious side effects are extremely rare. 

2. The vaccine is more important than ever with the new variants.

There has been a troubling surge in COVID cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant. Because new variants, or versions, of the virus are more contagious, they spread more quickly. The variants are also much more contagious to those who are unvaccinated—and antibodies from infection may not be as protective against the new variants. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated. The vaccine works and is still highly effective against serious illness. The best way to stay safe and slow the spread of these variants is to continue to protect yourself and get vaccinated.

3. Continue to physically distance, wash hands often, and wear a mask in social or public settings.

While the vaccine does help protect you against serious illness from the virus, it’s still important to keep up the safety best practices we’re all familiar with now. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, including Delta and other variants, continue to maintain physical distance, wash your hands often, and wear a mask. Masks are especially important in indoor public places, but the CDC also recommends wearing masks in crowded outdoor settings in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, wearing a mask gives you the most protection from the variants and helps prevent the spread to others.

4. You still need a flu shot this year. And you can now get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

Yep, you still need that flu shot this fall. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. Also, it’s important to note that you can get your flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine—if you haven’t gotten it already—at the same time. If you haven’t gotten your COVID-19 vaccine yet, now’s a great time to get both your flu and COVID-19 vaccines to best protect yourself this fall.

5. For those already fully vaccinated, COVID-19 boosters are here.

Booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines are being recommended, because vaccination immune response naturally weakens over time and the highly infectious Delta variant is circulating. Please reference the latest booster eligibility criteria from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you're eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot or if you have questions about it, talk to your doctor.

For more information, please see What to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine. If you’re a Clover Health member and have questions or need help scheduling or getting to a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, we can help! Search for a vaccine online or call our 1-877-770-4610 (TTY/TDD 711)* to get help from a live representative. Keep in touch if you have questions, and we’ll continue to provide updates as we have them.

Get vaccinated, get your flu shot, and continue to physically distance and wear masks when needed to help everyone get through this together.