Now that there is an authorized and recommended vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in the United States, here are 8 things you need to know about the new COVID-19 Vaccination Program and COVID-19 vaccines.
1. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe. The CDC's new after-vaccination health checker, v-safe, adds an additional layer of safety monitoring.
The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined the vaccine meets its safety and effectiveness standards and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) officially voted to recommend the vaccine to the public on December 13, 2020.
The CDC has also developed a new tool, v-safe, as an additional layer of safety monitoring to increase our ability to rapidly detect any safety issues with COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe is a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines.
2. You will need two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
You need two doses of the currently available COVID-19 vaccine in order to get the most protection. A second shot three weeks after your first shot is needed.
3. Healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities will receive the vaccine first.
Because the current supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. is limited, the CDC recommends that healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents receive the vaccine first. Other groups considered for early vaccination (but no formal recommendation has been made by the ACIP yet as to when they will be eligible to receive the vaccine):
Workers in essential and critical industries
People at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions
People 65 years and older
4. There is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, but supplies will increase in the weeks and months to come.
The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. Once the vaccine is widely available, the plan is to have several thousand vaccination providers offering COVID-19 vaccines in doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers.
5. After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign your body is building protection.
The side effects from COVID-19 vaccination may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. The CDC explains more about what side effects to expect and how to reduce discomfort after your vaccination.
6. Cost is not be an obstacle to getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot. Vaccination providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
7. The first COVID-19 vaccine is being used under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many other vaccines are still being developed and tested.
If more COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved by FDA, the ACIP will quickly hold public meetings to review all available data about each vaccine and make recommendations for their use in the United States.
All ACIP-recommended vaccines will be included in the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program. State, tribal, local, and territorial health departments have developed distribution plans to make sure all recommended vaccines are available to their communities.
8. COVID-19 vaccines are just one of the many important tools to help us stop the pandemic.
Just because we have a vaccine does not mean wearing your mask, social distancing, and washing your hands is any less important. Keep taking the same precautions to help stop the spread.
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