Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters

Protecting the ones you love and the people you know from COVID-19 starts by being protected yourself. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, and slow spread of the virus. COVID-19 booster shots are an additional dose of the vaccine since the protection provided by the original shot(s) begins to decrease over time.

Vaccines are reviewed, approved and authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).



Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot?

In Pennsylvania, everyone ages 5 and older is encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA has authorized, and the CDC has recommended, vaccines and booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson Janssen for adults. Children ages 5 and older get an age-appropriate dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Need help finding where to get a vaccine or booster shot? Visit vaccines.gov to find one in your area. You can also chedule one online through Rite Aid.



Do I need a booster shot?

The CDC recommends anyone age 18 or older receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. If you received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you are eligible for a booster shot six months or more after the initial shots. If you received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, a booster shots is recommended two months or more after initial shot.



Does my Independence health plan cover the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot?

Independence covers the cost of administering vaccines and booster shots with no cost-share (such as co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance) for members regardless of where the vaccine is given.

For Medicare Advantage members, the cost and administration of the vaccine and booster shots 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.





Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective?

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 and boosters that have received FDA authorization — Moderna, BioNTech, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson Janssen — have been proven to be safe* and effective at preventing infection, hospitalization, and death. The Pfizer vaccine is fully FDA-approved.

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.

More information:



Why is vaccination so important?

Variants of COVID-19 may be more contagious and spread faster than earlier forms of the virus. Infection rates are still very high. Getting vaccinated is our greatest tool in preventing serious infections.

Getting vaccinated benefits you as an individual because you are then less likely to get and transmit the disease, get severely ill and be hospitalized, or to die from COVID-19.  Being vaccinated also protects your community because your family, friends, colleagues, and other community members are less likely to contract COVID-19 and fall ill.

Some people may not be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or 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 get vaccinated.

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Continue practicing basic safeguards

It’s important to continue following the CDC guidelines as carefully and consistently as possible:

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
  • Stay at least six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live with you.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds at a time, or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

More information:





*The Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was linked to a very rare blood clotting disorder found in a small number of individuals who received the vaccine, though the risk of this happening is extremely rare — less than one in a million.

Individuals who receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be aware of the signs of rare and severe side effects, like severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. If you develop these symptoms within three weeks after vaccination, contact your health care provider right away.

Y0041_HM_95671_2021 Website last updated: 9/8/2021

Independence Blue Cross offers Medicare Advantage plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Independence Medicare Advantage plans depends on contract renewal.

Independence Blue Cross offers products through its subsidiaries Independence Hospital Indemnity Plan, Keystone Health Plan East and QCC Insurance Company — independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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