Vaccine FAQ

Last updated 3/11/21

We are in this together!

COVID-19 significantly affects individuals with behavioral health conditions. Because of this, getting your COVID-19 vaccine is important.

Vaccine distribution across the United States is not yet where it needs to be to give vaccines to all who want them today. We expect that vaccines will be more widely available in the coming months. This is a rapidly changing situation, and we know that having information about the vaccine is important. We encourage you to use the trusted resources on this page as you read about the vaccine.

While this is a unique and challenging time for all of us, please know that Community Care is working hard to advocate on behalf of all our members to bring you the latest information on the vaccine.

Resources

Information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Phases/Groups

In Pennsylvania, vaccine distribution is planned to occur according to priority groups as ordered below.

Which phase am I in?

  • Phase 1A – Residents of long-term care homes, health care workers, people ages 65 and older, and people ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions.
  • Phase 1B – First responders, workers in congregate care settings not included in Phase 1A, and essential workers in certain industries and/or jobs.
  • Phase 1C – Essential workers in certain industries and/or jobs.
  • Phase 2 – All individuals not previously covered.

The current vaccines are not approved for children under the age of 16. The CDC outlines pregnancy as a high-risk medical condition, which is in Phase 1A. If you are pregnant, check with your doctor about whether the vaccine is right for you.

Phase descriptions are current as of January 20, 2021 and are subject to change based on PA Department of Health guidance.

I’m a Veteran. Where can I get my vaccine?

Pennsylvania is fortunate to have excellent hospitals and facilities available for our veterans. Veterans may have special opportunities to receive a vaccine from the VA System or facility in their area. Find out more about getting a vaccine from the VA.

I have heard about changes to the federal government’s plan for distribution. How does this impact the phases in Pennsylvania?

The federal government, working primarily through the CDC, issues recommendations for state distributions of the vaccine. While the federal government controls the shipment of vaccines to states, each state is ultimately responsible for its own distribution plan. Pennsylvania has made a number of updates to its vaccination plan and has already said that more updates are likely as additional information or guidance is available from the federal government. The PA Department of Health has the most current vaccination plan for Pennsylvania. The federal government has committed to increasing the rate of vaccine shipments in the near future and we expect that vaccines will soon be more widely available, but Pennsylvania vaccine providers will still be required to follow the state’s distribution plan.

Availability

I found a site on the Pennsylvania Department of Health map that says vaccines are available.

Unfortunately, in many cases, showing availability of vaccine on the Pennsylvania Department of Health map does not actually mean that a site or provider is currently able to take vaccination appointments. In other situations, a vaccination site may have had a small surplus of doses to distribute even though they cannot regularly accept a large number of vaccination appointments. This may be because they have run out of doses or because any appointments they do have are currently full. Even when appointments are available, it is common to see only a small number of slots and for those slots to rapidly close. Vaccine supplies are still limited at the federal and state level so many sites and providers are able to schedule only intermittently when they actually have unused doses in stock.

What should I do to get a vaccine?

Vaccine access varies and changes frequently. Please check with your health care provider and local health department around availability.

And in the meantime, be sure to practice physical distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing. Visit the CDC for Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination.

Is the vaccine something that my insurance covers?

The COVID-19 vaccine is covered at no cost by most health plans no matter where you get your vaccine. For Medicaid members, coverage is provided by your physical health care plan. If you are in a Special Needs Plan, coverage may be provided through Medicare. If you have specific questions about coverage, please contact your physical health care plan.

Where Can I Get the Vaccine?

Do I have to get the COVID-19 vaccine from a primary care provider (PCP)?

No.

Do I have to get the COVID-19 vaccine from a network provider?

No.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy?

Yes, if/when available.

Safety

Is the vaccine safe?

Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect yourself and those around you from serious illnesses. Like all vaccines in the United States before being made available, the COVID-19 vaccine(s) underwent clinical trials and scientific evaluation that includes multiple levels of review for safety and effectiveness. This process is administered by the FDA and the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

If you have questions about whether the COVID-19 or any vaccine is recommended for you, talk to your doctor.

We strongly believe in vaccination, and the more people who are vaccinated, the better protected are our loved ones and communities. Because the state is distributing vaccines to multiple providers and pharmacies, there may be providers and pharmacies in your area that have vaccines available. For the health and safety of all, we encourage you to get vaccinated anywhere you are able. Your vaccine will be at no cost to you wherever you receive it.

If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose vaccine, you will need to receive your second dose from the provider who administered the first, and both doses should be the same brand.

Other

Can I stop wearing my mask after I get my vaccines?

No! Even after you get your second dose of the vaccine, we recommend continuing to physical distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently until guidance from state and federal governments changes.

Once there are multiple types of vaccine available, can I choose the one that I receive?

Technically, yes. However, the limited distribution of vaccines and high demand for appointments means that most providers will not be able to offer this choice in the near future.