COVID-19 Vaccines: Your questions, answered. CVS Health, Registered Trademark. Sree Chaguturu, Medical Doctor, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Caremark.
Hi, my name is Dr. Sree, and I've been getting a lot of questions from people about when they can get vaccinated and where they can get vaccinated. So I wanted to spend a few moments, really talking through those questions about when and where you can get vaccinated.
How is the vaccine being distributed in this country?
How is the vaccine being distributed across America? Let me take a few moments to explain how the vaccine is moving from the manufacturers, the pharmaceutical companies, to the federal government, and then to trusted vaccinators across the country. And there's a couple of pathways that that's occurring. The federal government has created partnership programs. One of those is with pharmacies and pharmacies, such as CVS Health, are receiving vaccines to help with vaccination efforts across the country. One such program is for long-term care and skilled nursing facilities. And CVS Health has been partnered up along with many other pharmacies across the country to make sure that some of our most vulnerable individuals in the country, the elderly living in congregate facilities, receive vaccines because of the high death rate and mortality of COVID-19 for those individuals. So that's the long-term care program. The second is called a Federal Pharmacy Partnership program where over time the federal government will provide vaccines to pharmacies such as CVS Health, to be able to administer it in retail pharmacies in your community. And that will be rolling out over the upcoming months, weeks, and months. The other path to getting vaccine access is from the federal government to the states. And then the states then work to provide vaccines to their trusted partners, such as departments of public health, hospital systems, physician offices, or pharmacies, and therefore states can adapt their vaccine rollout response based on local circumstance. So again, to summarize, the federal government will work with pharmacies and with states, and then the states will work with their trusted partners to ensure that vaccine is distributed across the country.
When can I get the vaccine (when it will be “my turn”)?
When can you get the vaccine and when will it be your turn? The federal government has provided guidance to state and local health authorities to help answer that specific question and then state and local health authorities are adapting the guidance on who should get the vaccine when to meet their local circumstance. So for you, by understanding your local health authorities prioritization by either contacting your health department, talking to your providers, or going to CVS.com, you'll better understand where you lie in the prioritization. The goal is for everyone to be vaccinated and there will be a time where you qualify and by keeping in contact with your health authorities and health providers, or with us at CVS.com, you'll better understand when it's your turn to be vaccinated.
Where do I go to get the vaccine?
Where do you go to get the vaccine? As vaccine supply expands across the country, there will be more and more locations that will be able to provide vaccinations by keeping in touch with your state and local health authorities. You'll have a better understanding of where there's vaccines available and what their availability is to see patients. We believe that retail pharmacies will play a very key role as well as doctor's offices and hospital systems, as well as mass vaccination sites. All of these will be available sites over time and more and more of these will be available over time. So keep in contact with your trusted health sources, the public health department and your primary care providers or sources such as CVS.com and you'll have a better understanding of where there will be availability in your local community.
Can I get the vaccine at CVS Pharmacy?
Currently, we are opening up more and more stores as vaccine availability expands across the country. We'll do this in accordance with state and local health authorities to ensure that eligible populations are able to receive the vaccine, according to the prioritizations of the local health authorities. And over time, we'll continue to open up more pharmacies across the country to be able to provide vaccinations in your local community.
To find out if the vaccine is available in your local community, please visit CVS.com and you'll understand whether it's available and if you are specifically eligible based on the state screening criteria. Over time, there'll be more availability across the country and we look forward to being able to provide you vaccinations in our CVS pharmacies.
How much will it cost me to get vaccinated?
How much will it cost for you to get the COVID-19 vaccine? You will not be charged for getting the COVID-19 vaccine or its administration. However, it's important that there is reimbursement to those individuals who are providing the COVID-19 vaccine and therefore you will be asked for your insurance information to ensure the appropriate reimbursement for the vaccinators. However, you, out of pocket, will not pay for anything. The federal government has paid for the vaccine. And if you don't have insurance, there's a separate program, federal government program, to ensure you are able to get the vaccine. But again, you will need to provide your insurance information if you have insurance to ensure that there's appropriate reimbursement to the individuals providing the vaccine and you will not pay out of pocket.
Can my children get the vaccine?
Can your children get the vaccine? Currently Moderna, which is one of the manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccine, is only authorized for 18 years or older. The other vaccine is from a company called Pfizer and they're authorized for 16 years of age or older. Both of these companies, as well as the other companies that are racing to develop COVID-19 vaccines, are committed to understanding the effectiveness of the vaccine in pediatric populations. At this time, there is not a vaccine available for children under the age of 16. However, over time, the manufacturers, the pharmaceutical companies, will be studying and there will be vaccine availability for children. That likely isn't until later on in 2021, or maybe not even until 2022. We will continue to keep you apprised of when a pediatric vaccine is available. But at this time over the age of 16 for Pfizer and 18 and over for Moderna are the current authorized ages for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Can I get vaccinated if I currently have COVID-19 or if I have cold symptoms?
Can you get vaccinated if you currently have COVID-19 or you have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19? The answer right now is no, we recommend that you wait till after your symptoms have resolved. After they've resolved, then you should discuss with your primary care provider about when is the right time to get a COVID 19 vaccine. However, if you have current symptoms of COVID-19, or have diagnosed COVID-19, until you have your symptoms resolved and you recover from COVID-19, you should not get the vaccine.\
Do I still need to get vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?
Do you still need to get the COVID-19 vaccine after you've had COVID-19? The answer is, yes. Let's talk a little bit more about when is the right time to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Right now, after you've received, after you've been infected with COVID-19, you likely have immunity up to 90 days after infection. So you could wait up to 90 days after you have resolved from COVID-19 before you get the vaccination. However, you can talk to your primary care provider or your treating providers about whether or not it makes sense for you to receive it earlier than that 90 day window based on other clinical criteria is that you should discuss with your providers. But again, should you get the vaccine if you've already had COVID-19? Yes. And waiting 90 days would be okay, but with your provider, you should potentially get it earlier than that 90 days.
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