With two vaccines being administered in the US, where do you stand in line? Will you have to pay anything? What can you do after you’re vaccinated? Here’s what you need to know.
Many of those who received their first COVID-19 vaccine last month are gearing up to get their second shot — including President-elect Joe Biden. The US currently has two approved COVID-19 vaccines — Moderna and Pfizer — being administered across the country. And while the pace of vaccinations didn’t go as planned, Biden says he will release more doses as soon as he’s in office.
As you wait for your turn, there are a lot of questions we can help answer. Is a vaccination completely free or will you have to pay? How long will you personally have to wait to receive it, when will you know when you can get it and where, and is there anyone who shouldn’t get a COVID-19 vaccine right now?
There’s plenty we don’t know yet, but we’re keeping a close eye on the situation and will update this story as we learn more about the vaccine against COVID-19. Note that this story isn’t intended to serve as medical advice.
Currently, two vaccines in the US are OK’d for emergency use
With the FDA’s approval of Moderna’s vaccine on Dec. 18, the United States now has two pharmaceutical companies’ COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use to battle the pandemic. The FDA approved Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 11, and it’s now being distributed across the US.
This year, we’re expected to see 200 million doses from Pfizer by July and anywhere from 600 million to 1 billion doses from Moderna.
After you’re injected with the initial vaccine, a second dose is required after a set period of weeks (depending on which vaccine you get, it could be three or four weeks). This is required for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be effective. As a result, 20 million doses, for example, can vaccinate 10 million people. The US has a population of roughly 330 million people.
When will I be able to get the vaccine? Is there a specific order of who will receive it first?
Yes. Here’s a complete list of who will likely receive the COVID-19 vaccine first (and last).
Since the number of doses that can be made at one time is limited, states will prioritize which groups of people will be first in line to get the COVID-19 immunization. Every major global and domestic recommendation so far puts health care workers at the top of that list, with the general population last in line. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted guidelines, but each state will have the final word.
Depending on who you are, you may have to wait until spring or summer, when there are enough vaccines to go around, in order to be immunized.
How much will I have to pay to get the coronavirus vaccine?
Regardless of whether you have health insurance or not, the COVID-19 vaccine will be free for all Americans, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The government organization also said it plans to make sure you can get reimbursed for any FDA-approved coronavirus treatments you’re charged for.
Why aren’t kids approved to get vaccinated for COVID-19 yet?
Kids will not be able to receive the coronavirus vaccines immediately. Dr. Jose Romero, a CDC advisor, said kids under the age of 18 could expect to get their shots in the second half of 2021, CNBC reported.
How will I know when my kids and I are eligible to get vaccinated? What should we do in the meantime?
Your state and local health providers will start to communicate who can get immunized against COVID-19 first and how to do it. We’ll keep an eye out for more details and will update this section when we know more.
Will getting two different vaccines give me additional immunity to the coronavirus?
Health experts recommend you don’t take more than one complete course of the coronavirus vaccine. Extremely limited supply makes it important that there are enough doses to immunize everyone. Past research hasn’t proved any benefit to receiving more than one vaccine for a given pathogen.
Is the coronavirus vaccine only a shot? Is there a different way to get it?
The current immunization works as a series of two injections administered a number of weeks apart for the full inoculation to take place. Vaccine developers are also working on other ways to administer the COVID-19 immunization such as infusion, in which the vaccine is delivered intravenously, or an adhesive patch that you affix to your skin for a period of time.
What can I do once I get the COVID-19 vaccine? Can I go anywhere I want and stop wearing a mask?
Once you get the first coronavirus vaccine, you’ll receive a vaccination card that details which shot you received and when you need to go back for the second (see above).
After you receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends that you continue practicing social distancing and wearing a mask when you’re out in public. The CDC says it’s important to do so while “experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions.”