What you should know about COVID-19 vaccines
Vaccines are an important tool to help communities fight the spread of COVID-19 and help people stay healthy. The CDC has determined that “People who were unvaccinated had a greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and a greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than people who were fully vaccinated”.
Research has shown that unvaccinated individuals:1
- are 5 times more likely than fully vaccinated individuals to become infected, and 14 times more likely to die from the coronavirus.
- are 10 times more likely to become infected and 20 times more likely to die from the coronavirus compared to individuals who have received additional or booster doses.
Vaccines interrupt the ability of the virus that causes COVID-19 to move between people and mutate, so it is important for everyone to get vaccinated as medically appropriate.We strongly encourage all Humana members to consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine when they are eligible. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
Until you are fully vaccinated, it is important to continue following the advice of health professionals, including wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing your hands, in order to minimize the chances of catching or spreading the disease. The CDC recommends you protect yourself and your community by getting your COVID-19 vaccine and wearing a mask indoors in public, even if you are fully vaccinated.2
Source (1): The New York Times: Unvaccinated Americans 11 times more likely to die of COVID, the CDC reports
- COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are now recommended for everyone ages 12 years and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster is the only one available to those aged 12 to 17. To determine your eligibility, check the CDC’s web page on COVID-19 boosters for the latest information.
- The CDC has shortened the booster shot interval from 6 months to 5 months for people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 primary vaccine series. The 2 month booster interval recommendation for people who received the J&J vaccine has not changed. Additionally, the CDC recommends some immunocompromised 5–11-year-olds receive an additional primary dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 28 days after their second shot – for a total of three doses. To learn more, read the CDC's statement about their updated vaccine recommendations.
- The CDC expressed a clinical preference for individuals to receive the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) over the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. To learn more, read the CDC's statement about their updated vaccine recommendations
What vaccines are available for COVID-19?
There are currently 3 FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (also known as Comirnaty) is the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive full FDA approval for individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine is also available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 5 through 15 years of age. Read this statement to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens.
- The Moderna vaccine is available under EUA for ages 18 and over.
- The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available under EUA for ages 18 and over.
It is important to note that the CDC has updated their COVID-19 vaccine recommendation expressing a clinical preference for individuals to receive the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) over the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. To learn more, read the CDC's statement about their updated vaccine recommendations.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe and effective?
Yes. Per FDA regulations, vaccines haved passed rigorous safety and efficacy trials. According to the CDC, clinical trials of all vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be authorized or approved for use, including COVID-19 vaccines.
Safety: “Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.” Learn how federal partners are working together to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
With regard to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC and FDA recommend “women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination, and that other COVID-19 vaccines are available where this risk has not been seen.” If you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, here is what you need to know.
Additionally, the FDA has issued a news release and updated the label on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine of an increased risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare nuerological disorder, during the 42 days following vaccination”. However, the FDA’s release states the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine “continues to find the known and potential benefits clearly outweigh the known and potential risks”.
Efficacy: The CDC states that, “All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19.” Learn more about the different COVID-19 vaccines.
Read more from the CDC about the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Who is eligible to get the vaccine?
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people aged 5 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine available for those age 5 through 17.
How is it administered? How many doses will I need?
The COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered via injection. Some will require 2 doses to maximize their effectiveness. The Pfizer vaccine requires 2 shots administered about 21 days apart. The Moderna vaccine requires 2 shots administered about 28 days apart. It is critical that you schedule and receive the second dose in order to receive the most protection possible.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just 1 shot.
When can I get a booster shot?
The CDC notes everyone ages 12 and older can get a booster shot as follows:
Where can I get the vaccine?
- Visit Vaccines.gov to find vaccination providers near you. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination locations on Vaccines.gov.
- Text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 800-232-0233 to find vaccine locations near you.
- Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination appointments are available. Find out which pharmacies are participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
- Contact your state health department to find additional vaccination locations in the area.
- Check your local news outlets. They may have information on how to get a vaccination appointment.
For more information, visit How Do I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine | CDC
What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?
Remember to bring a government-issued ID with you when you get your vaccination Because age is an important criterion for eligibility in most states, many vaccine providers are requiring a government-issued ID showing date of birth as proof of age.
Also remember to bring your Humana Insurance member ID card (Humana Medicare Advantage members, bring your original government-issued Medicare card, too) when you get your vaccine in case the vaccine provider requests it. While the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine for all Americans, some providers may charge a fee for administering the vaccine. There won’t be any cost to you, but having your card will ensure the provider can receive reimbursement for administering the vaccine to you. For more information on costs, see the “Will I be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to me” FAQ below.
Are there any side effects from the vaccine?
It is possible that you will experience some side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the CDC, “After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection.”1
Common vaccine side effects highlighted by the CDC range from pain at the injection site to flu-like symptoms. Learn more from the CDC on dealing with these symptoms and when to call the doctor.
There have been extremely rare incidents of significant allergic reactions reported. The CDC is working with vaccine providers to put safeguards in place for dealing with severe allergic reactions. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and severe allergic reactions.
Note that the CDC and FDA released a statement on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine stating that, “women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination, and that other COVID-19 vaccines are available where this risk has not been seen.” If you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, here is what you need to know.
After receiving the vaccine, consider signing up for V-safe from the CDC. “V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one.”
Learn more about v-safe.
What should I do if I’m exposed to COVID-19 or infected?
On January 4, 2022, the CDC recommended shorter quarantine and isolation (for asymptomatic and mildly ill people) periods of 5 days to focus on the period when a person is most infectious, followed by continued masking for an additional 5 days.1 According to the CDC, data shows the Omicron variant is up to 3 times more infectious than the Delta variant, so it is critical for people to continue to wear well-fitting masks and take additional precautions for 5 days after leaving isolation or quarantine. You can end isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Mask use and layered prevention strategies, such as receiving all recommended vaccination and booster doses, physical distancing, screening testing, handwashing, and improved ventilation, are key to preventing COVID-19 and decreasing transmission. Read this article to learn more here about the CDC’s latest quarantine and isolation guidelines.
Source (1): CDC: If You are Sick: Quarantine and Isolation Background
What if I am high-risk or have a specific medical condition?
If you have concerns due to your health status or a specific medical condition, talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated.
If you have an underlying or chronic medical condition, make sure you are in communication with your doctor during this pandemic. Getting these conditions well-managed, by staying on top of your preventive and regular medical care, will help to manage your health risk. This is one of the best ways to protect yourself while awaiting the availability of the vaccine.
If someone has already tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, is a COVID-19 vaccination necessary and why?
Yes. Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies should still get the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent potential reinfection.
It is unknown how long the COVID-19 antibodies in a person’s system may offer protection from the virus—and how high the antibody levels would need to be to offer that protection. Additionally, there have been some reports of people getting reinfected with the virus, which indicates that the natural immunity may wear off over time.2
How long should someone wait to get vaccinated for COVID-19 if they’ve already had the COVID-19 virus?
- In COVID-19 cases that are mild and don’t require hospitalization, an individual should wait through the CDC-recommended isolation period before getting vaccinated. For most people, this means 10 days after symptom onset and resolution of fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- For more severe COVID-19 infections that were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, the CDC recommends a 90-day wait so that your immune system is recovered and ready.3
Is it safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the flu or other vaccines?
The CDC has confirmed that “You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit. You no longer need to wait 14 days between vaccinations. Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection, known as an immune response, after getting vaccinated and possible side effects of vaccines are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines.” Learn more about the timing and administration of other vaccines from the CDC here. Learn more about the timing and administration of other vaccines from the CDC here.
Will I be able to get the vaccine at no charge to me?
Yes. All Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized COVID-19 vaccines will be covered at no additional cost during the public health emergency. Coverage applies no matter where you get the vaccine, including at both in-network and out-of-network providers. It also covers instances in which 2 initial vaccine doses are required, as well as booster shots that are recommended according to CDC guidelines.
While the $0 cost share applies across Humana’s Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial plans, there are some technical differences with how claims are processed:
- Humana Medicare Advantage members: Original Medicare was responsible for coverage of COVID-19 vaccinations during 2020 and 2021, including charges for the vaccine and its administration. Beginning January 1, 2022, the cost of the vaccine doses will be paid for by the federal government. Humana will cover any cost from vaccine providers for administering the vaccine, and there will be no cost-share for members.
- Humana Medicaid and commercial members: The cost of the vaccine doses will be paid for by the federal government. Humana will cover any cost from vaccine providers for administering the vaccine, and there will be no cost share for members.
Remember to bring your original government-issued Medicare card and your Humana member ID card when you get your vaccine in case the vaccine provider requests it.
In the unlikely event you require medical treatment due to adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, Humana will cover that treatment in accordance with your policy, just as with any other covered medical service or treatment.
What if I was charged for my vaccine and need to be reimbursed?
Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, some vaccination providers may charge an administration fee for giving someone the shot(s). If you’ve been vaccinated and you received a bill – either for the vaccine itself or for its administration - you can file for reimbursement directly from Humana.
Note that there are separate claim forms for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Complete all information requested on the appropriate health benefits claim form below:
- Enclose the original itemized bill(s) you paid.
- Mail the completed form with the original itemized bill(s) to the address on the back of your Humana member ID card.
Please note that it can take up to 30 days to process the claim, and the reimbursement will be sent as a check to the home address we have on file for you.
Should I be concerned about scams when I’m looking for the vaccine?
Wherever you get the vaccine, it’s important to confirm the source is safe and reputable to avoid becoming a victim of fraud. A warning from the FBI in December, 2020, provides information on potential indicators of COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud and tips on how to avoid it. View the FBI’s warning here.
If you’re a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can:
- “Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed July 20, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html.
- “Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed July 20, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html.
- “Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination.”