COVID-19 vaccine details: New variants, when you can get vaccinated, hidden fees
You have a lot of questions about the coronavirus vaccine, and we don't blame you one bit. Here's what we know so far about everything including vaccines for kids, going back to work and international travel.
Katie TeagueWriter II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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As new information arises about the vaccine against COVID-19, we'll continue to update with new details. This story isn't intended to serve as medical advice.
Will the current vaccines be effective against the new COVID-19 variants?
With new variants of the coronavirus emerging -- the UK strain, Brazil strain, South African strain, California strain -- doctors and scientists are evaluating how effective different COVID-19 vaccine formulas are against the new strains. Mutations and variants are not unusual or unexpected, and scientists are tracking those of interest as they arise. However, many of the investigations into these variants are preliminary and require further study.
Some initial studies have shown varied results. The South African variant is considered more contagious than the initial virus, for example, and could resist some of the vaccines, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. The new variant might also have the potential to "re-infect people who have recovered from earlier versions of the coronavirus."
The California strain appears to be more infectious and deadly, Science reported Feb. 23. According to studies, the variant was "four times less susceptible than the original coronavirus to neutralizing antibodies from the blood of people who recovered from COVID-19, and two times less susceptible to antibodies from the blood of people vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines."
Moderna is looking for a way to tweak its vaccine formula in order to remain effective against the new mutations, according to a Science report on Jan. 26. Experts continue to stress the importance of being vaccinated to stop the spread of disease, and therefore stop new mutations from formulating at a rapid rate.
As such, it's important to continue wearing a mask and engaging in social distancing to prevent these new mutations from spreading.
Watch this: How do I get the COVID-19 vaccine? Your questions answered
So far, 76.9 million vaccines have been administered, with Pfizer slightly leading the way. Other vaccine brands will likely be approved in the US.
For Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be effective, a second dose is required after a set period of weeks (depending on which vaccine you get, it could be 21 or 28 days). As a result, 20 million doses, for example, can vaccinate 10 million people. The US has a population of roughly 330 million people.
Every major global and domestic recommendation so far puts health care workers at the top of the priority list, in theory, with the general population last in line. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted guidelines, but again, 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.
Will my company require me to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
However, there are protections in place for some individuals, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people who are unable to get the vaccine due to medical conditions The Civil Rights Act is also in place to help those with religious beliefs opposing vaccines.
Disneyland closed its doors as of Jan. 14 in order to serve as a vaccination site. It's offering refunds to those who hold Disneyland Resort Annual Passports.
Do 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.
Can I travel internationally once I get the vaccine?
Different airlines and countries may have certain policies about coronavirus protocols, like mask-wearing, and may ask you a series of questions regarding your health and any perceived coronavirus symptoms. You should also be aware that you'll be required to have a negative COVID-19 test before flying into the US.
Who should wait to get a COVID-19 vaccination right now?
The coronavirus vaccine is considered safe for the general population, but there may be some exceptions and some sensitive groups of people who are advised to consult their physicians first. For instance, children under 16 haven't yet been cleared to receive the COVID-19 vaccine -- although Moderna expects to have its label expanded for the vaccine to cover those aged 12-17 years old by the summer. Also, people who've experienced severe allergic reactions should speak to their doctors. Here's more information about who might not get a coronavirus vaccine yet.
Why isn't the COVID-19 vaccine approved for kids 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.
When will I find out 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.
When will there be enough vaccines readily available for everyone to get shots?
Biden said on Feb. 11 the US will have enough COVID-19 vaccines for every American by the end of July. However, that doesn't mean everyone will get their shots by then. When you get the coronavirus vaccine will depend on which group you fall in. You could get it in March if you're a healthcare worker or if you're 65 or older, but you may have to wait until July if you're a younger adult with no preexisting conditions.
If I get vaccinated twice, will I get additional immunity to the coronavirus?
Is the coronavirus vaccine only given as a shot? Is there a different way to get it?
The current immunization works as a series of one or two injections (depending on the vaccine brand) 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 are the COVID-19 vaccination cards and what can I do once I have one?
The vaccination card you receive after getting your COVID-19 shot will be used to document which vaccine brand you received -- not everyone will get the same vaccine, but it could be Pfizer or Moderna for now until Johnson & Johnson is distributed across the country. The vaccination card will also be used as a reminder for when you need to go back for the second shot if you get Moderna or Pfizer, which will take place between three and four weeks after the first injection, depending on the vaccine.
What it won't be used as is a vaccine passport. In other words, it is not an official immunity certificate that could allow immunized people to return to the workplace, enter restaurants and stores, or visit foreign countries that have quarantine protocols in place.
Also, the Better Business Bureau is now warning people not to share photos of their vaccination cards on social media. "Unfortunately, your card has your full name and birthday on it, as well as information about where you got your vaccine. If your social media privacy settings aren't set high, you may be giving valuable information away for anyone to use," the BBB posted on Jan. 29.
Can I select which coronavirus vaccine type I get?
It's uncertain if you'll have your choice of which vaccine brand or type you'll get. This may depend on how many doses of the vaccine are available in your area and where you are in line to receive it. When you schedule your appointment online, some locations will list which vaccine they're administering.
It also depends on if you live near a medical center with "medical-grade ultracold freezers," USA Today reports, as the Pfizer vaccine must be kept in cold, dry-ice temperatures. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, on the other hand, can be stored at temperatures between 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 30 days, making them much more easily accessible.
Note that once you get the first vaccine shot, you'll have to stick with that brand for the second shot.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.