COVID-19 vaccines are now authorized for use

What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

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 two COVID-19 vaccines, and a few additional ones are also likely to be authorized soon. As more vaccines are authorized and manufactured, more people will be able to receive the vaccine.

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Does Independence Blue Cross cover vaccination?

The Federal government is currently covering the cost of the COVID‑19 vaccine itself. Independence will cover and waive all commercial members’ cost-sharing (such as copays, deductibles, and coinsurance) for its 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.

Is COVID-19 vaccination safe and effective?

The FDA grants a vaccine an EUA 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 two vaccines that have received an EUA have been proven to be 90 – 95 percent effective. That’s 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 vaccine contains 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.

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Why is vaccination so important?

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.

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When will COVID-19 vaccines be available?

Health care workers are one of the first groups to be vaccinated because they’re on the front lines of treating people who are sick with COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that the vaccine be given first to residents of long-term care facilities, who are at especially high risk of dying from the disease.

As more doses are manufactured, the vaccine will be distributed to different populations in stages until enough people have been vaccinated to stop the spread. The CDC recommends that the next cohort of people receiving the vaccine should be adults ages 75 and older, who are at highest risk of critical illness; and frontline essential workers such as first responders, teachers and others working in education, food and agriculture employees, correctional facility staffers, public transit workers, postal workers, manufacturers, and grocery store employees.

As with all vaccines, Independence Blue Cross has no control over the availability and prioritization of distributing the vaccine. Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine will be controlled by the federal government, in collaboration with state and local governments.

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Staying safe today

Vaccines may prevent you from getting sick, but no one knows yet whether getting vaccinated will keep you from spreading the virus to others. 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:

  • Always wear a mask outside your home.
  • Stay at least six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live with you.
  • Avoid crowds at all costs.
  • 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.
  • Get the flu vaccine.

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.

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Philadelphia Department of Health

Y0041_HM_95671_2021 Website last updated: 12/29/2020

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

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