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COVID-19 Vaccines

Every state has its own vaccination plan. 

Phases and tiers are different by state; for example, new groups of people become eligible weekly in Oregon. 

Vaccine Eligibility:

  • Washington: To find out if you’re eligible for vaccination, visit the Phase Finder Tool to determine your current eligibility and receive a certificate to show at your appointment when you are eligible.  

                       Eligible groups by tier and objectives for protecting those groups in that order are detailed in this document. 

                       A simplified visual timeline is also available. 

                      Washington’s Department of Health website has many additional resources including registered vaccine locations. 

  • Oregon: To determine their eligibility, members can use the Vaccine Info Tool (starts a chat). 

                        Phases 1a and 1b and groups that become eligible each week are outlined in this distribution plan. 

                        For vaccine information by county please refer to the Oregon Health Authority website. 

  • Utah:Information about vaccine distribution in Utah is available on this microsite.                  

  • All other states: The CDC maintains links to all state and territorial Health Department websites here. 

Vaccine Access:

Is the vaccine safe?  

All the COVID-19 vaccines being used have gone through rigorous studies to ensure they are as safe as possible. Systems that allow CDC to watch for safety issues are in place across the entire country. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines that have been shown to meet rigorous safety criteria and be effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials. Watch a video describing the emergency use authorization. Clinical trials for all vaccines must first show they meet rigorous criteria for safety and effectiveness before any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can be authorized or approved for use. The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine. Learn more about how federal partners are ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. 

Is it safe for me to get a vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition? 

People with underlying medical conditions can receive the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines provided they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Learn more about vaccination considerations for persons with underlying medical conditions. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Does the current vaccine work on the new variants? 

UW Medicine, one of the leading COVID-19 research organizations in the United State, explains in their vaccine FAQ that, COVID-19 variants are emerging and proving to be more contagious than the original coronavirus. The current Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still effective against these new variants. 

Mutations are making COVID-19 better at latching onto human cells. This makes it spread more easily from person to person. A smaller amount of virus and less time in the same room with an infected person for someone to catch the mutated coronavirus. 

It's important to take all precautions to prevent transmission of the new variants: 

  • Wear a mask with multiple layers 

  • Maintain physical distance from others 

  • Practice good hand hygiene 

How do I get on a list to get the vaccine sooner? 

The prioritization of vaccine eligibility is managed by each State’s Health Department. We recommend that you schedule your vaccination appointment as soon as you become eligible. Most vaccination providers will schedule you for a second dose at the same time they schedule your first dose.  

My employer is making me get the vaccine. Can you help me get the vaccine earlier than the phase that I qualify for? 

No. If your employer has questions about this, please ask them to contact us. We are happy to share information and resources with them about your state’s vaccine prioritization and eligibility. 

Do I have to pay for the vaccine?  

No. Currently, the vaccine serum cost is being covered by the federal government and the vaccine administration cost is covered by your health plan. Eventually, when the Federal Public Health Emergency declaration ends, and/or when pharmacies start to directly purchase their own vaccine serum, there could be a cost to you depending on your Health Planspecific benefits for preventive care and immunizations. The vaccine will be covered the same as other preventive immunizations under your health plan. 

Does it matter which vaccine I get?  

You should get the vaccine available to you when you are eligible to schedule your vaccination. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are safe and effective. 

As COVID-19 vaccines are authorized and then recommended for use in the United States, it will be important to understand what is known about each vaccine. The CDC will provide information on who is and is not recommended to receive each vaccine and what to expect after vaccination, as well as ingredients, safety, and effectiveness. 

Currently, two vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19: 

Both of the vaccines listed above are mRNA vaccines. Want to understand more about COVID mRNA vaccines? 

What should I expect at my vaccination appointment? 

Because COVID-19 is a new disease with new vaccines, you may have questions about what happens before, during, and after your appointment to get vaccinated. The CDC has outlined tips that will help you know what to expect when you get vaccinated, what information your provider will give you, and resources you can use to monitor your health after you are vaccinated. 

You can also sign up for the v-safe vaccination health checkerwhich is a smartphone-based tool from the CDC that will remind you to get your second dose. 

How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed? 

The currently authorized vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States require 2 shots to get the most protection: 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech doses should be given 3 weeks (21 days) apart 

  • Moderna doses should be given 1 month (28 days) apart 

You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval. 

Additional COVID-19 vaccines are in Phase 3 clinical trials. Learn more about the different COVID-19 vaccines. 

Can you give me proof that I got the vaccine? 

You should receive a vaccination card or printout that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it. 

What happens if I do not get the second dose on time or at all?  

According to UW Medicine, while it is best to get your second dose within the recommended time frame, it may not always be possible. 

It is OK to receive the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There is limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. 

But if the second dose is given late, there is no need to restart the series. 

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated? 

Yes. According to the CDC, due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called “natural immunity,” varies from person to person.  It is rare for someone who has had COVID-19 to get infected again. It also is uncommon for people who do get COVID-19 again to get it within 90 days of when they recovered from their first infection.  We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work. 

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are working to learn more about, and the CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.