Vaccines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 represent a great advancement that will help our community stop the spread of this virus, and eventually help us to return to a more normal life.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for three COVID-19 vaccines. As more vaccines are authorized and manufactured, more people will be able to receive the vaccine.
The Federal government is currently covering the cost of manufacturing the COVID‑19 vaccines. Independence will cover and waive all commercial members' cost-sharing (such as copays, deductibles, and coinsurance) for vaccine administration.
For Medicare Advantage members, the cost of the vaccine and its administration will be covered by Original Medicare so long as the health care provider administering the vaccine participates in the Medicare program.
Visit our COVID-19 FAQs for more detailed information on vaccine coverage.
The FDA authorizes use of a vaccine only after it has determined that the vaccine is safe to use, and provides effective protection against a virus. Clinical trials involving thousands of people must demonstrate that vaccination prevents a large percentage of people from being infected, and that any potential side effects are very rare.
The three vaccines that have received FDA authorization have been proven to be effective. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which require two doses, are 90–95 percent effective. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 72 percent effective and only requires a single dose. All three vaccines offer a very high level of protection — much higher (for example) than the flu vaccine, which is between 40 and 60 percent effective.
While some people receiving a COVID-19 vaccine experience flu-like symptoms, that doesn’t mean it has infected them. The vaccines contain no actual coronavirus. Instead, the vaccine teaches our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response against the virus.
As with all vaccines, allergic reactions are possible. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past it’s important to talk to your doctor about possible side effects and whether it is safe for you to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is very easily transmitted, and infection rates in our country are very high.
Pandemics end only when large percentages of the population have become immune — either because they’ve already recovered from the virus, or because they’ve been vaccinated. (This is known as “herd immunity.”) That’s why so many resources worldwide have been put into developing, testing, and manufacturing these vaccines in a short period of time. It’s vital that these vaccines be made available to as many people as quickly as possible.
Some people may not be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, or to experience its full benefit, based on their bodies’ ability to mount an antibody response — such as those who have compromised immune systems or are undergoing cancer treatment. And those who have a potential risk of allergic reactions should discuss the safety of the vaccine with their doctors.
Yet all of these individuals are also at risk of contracting COVID-19, so it’s even more vital that the people around them do get vaccinated.
There are a lot of questions and concerns about COVID-19 vaccine availability. Vaccine manufacturers are working hard to produce enough doses to get everyone vaccinated. And as more doses are created, they are being distributed continually to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and other states.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health plans to make the vaccines available to state residents in four phases. You can check the Department’s vaccine distribution page to find out when you will be eligible, and to locate potential vaccine distribution sites in your area. You can also visit the COVID-19 vaccination websites of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties for distribution information:
Philadelphia residents should check the City of Philadelphia’s vaccination page, which allows you to reserve your place in line for receiving the vaccine.
Currently the demand for vaccination is higher than the supply of doses, so it’s difficult for distribution sites to accommodate everyone who is eligible at any given time. Please be patient, and trust that they are working hard to get you vaccinated as soon as they can.
As with all vaccines, Independence Blue Cross has no control over the availability and prioritization of distributing the vaccine. Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines is being controlled by the federal government, in collaboration with state and local governments. But whenever you’re able to get vaccinated, your vaccination will be covered.
Vaccines may prevent you from getting sick, but no one knows yet whether getting vaccinated will keep you from spreading the virus to others. And, it could be several months until the vaccine is available more broadly. Therefore, it’s very important to continue following the CDC guidelines as carefully and consistently as possible:
It’s urgent that we all do our part until we can get vaccinated. And once it’s our turn to receive the vaccine, it’s urgent that we get vaccinated as soon as we can.
Vaccines provide a ray of hope in the effort to beat COVID-19. In this section, our clinical experts provide information related to COVID-19 and the vaccines.
Philadelphia Department of Health
Y0041_HM_95671_2021 Website last updated: 4/1/2021
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