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Vaccines & Testing

Doctor wearing a face mask

Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine or testing? We’re here to help! Browse our Frequently Asked Questions and articles below to stay up-to-date on the latest information. This includes vaccine approvals, priority access, and more. Remember, diagnostic testing is still important for detecting COVID-19. Please check this page often for updated information.

Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Find out about COVID-19 vaccination including who will get the vaccine first, side effects, costs, new developments, and more. One of the most important tools to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic is a safe and effective vaccine.

The top three things you should know about the vaccine are:

  1. As a Brand New Day Health Plan member, you will have no out-of-pocket costs; the vaccine is fully covered for you.
  2. There is currently a limited supply of the two approved safe and effective vaccines. The vaccines are being administered in phases, below are the 3 Phases of the roll out:
    • Phase 1 — Most of the state is in Phase 1 of the rollout. This phase targets groups at high risk for getting COVID-19 or having severe illness from it.
    • Phase 2 — Expands access to more Californians at high risk not included in Phase 1.
    • Phase 3 — The general public will be able to get vaccinated in Phase 3. This is expected to be some time in the summer 2021.
  3. You will need to continue with preventive measures before and after getting vaccinated:
    • Wear a mask
    • Social distance
    • Wash your hands often
    • Minimize mixing with other households
  • About the COVID-19 vaccines
    On December 11, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Pfizer for their vaccine. On December 18, 2020, they also gave EUA to Moderna for their vaccine. Other vaccines are also being developed and will be reviewed.
    • What does Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) mean?

      The FDA ensures medical products are safe and effective for us to use. FDA approval can often be a long process. EUA helps the FDA provide faster access to medical products during a health emergency. It balances known risks and benefits to the public.

      EUA helps when there are no other adequate, approved, and available options. EUAs may change as the FDA approves, clears, or licenses the medicines or treatments.

      You can learn more about EUAs on the FDA's website.

  • Are the vaccines safe?

    Safety is a top priority. The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all COVID-19 vaccines are as safe as possible.

    COVID-19 vaccines are carefully looked at in clinical trials with thousands of people. In each of these trials, people are closely checked for any health risks. Once the trial results indicate the vaccine is safe and effective, it can be authorized by the FDA.

    Checks on the vaccine will continue in the real-world setting. These can help researchers know if there might be very rare side effects or long-term risks not seen in trials.

    Also, California has formed a Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to look at data to help ensure the COVID-19 vaccine meets safety requirements.

    Read this fact sheet for more information about the vaccines.

    • How were these vaccines developed so quickly?

      The speed to development of these vaccines may have seemed fast, but there was no cutting corners. The apparent speed comes from unprecedented worldwide collaboration between:

      • Scientists
      • Pharmaceutical companies
      • New technologies

      The U.S. government was able to help aid faster development, too. It worked closely with pharmaceutical companies and supported swift distribution efforts.

      All vaccines come with side effects or some risk. But the FDA, in authorizing the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, concluded that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.

  • Are the vaccines effective?

    The authorized vaccines have 95% (Pfizer) and 94% (Moderna) effectiveness in protecting against COVID-19.

    What we know today is that the vaccine decreases:

    • Risk of getting COVID-19
    • Being hospitalized with COVID-19
    • Death from COVID-19
  • Why get a vaccine?

    Simply put, it’s good for you, your family, and your community. It’s the right thing to do.

    Getting the vaccine will help protect you and your loved ones from severe illness or death and reduces the risk of getting COVID-19.

    The more people who get vaccinated, the more we can reduce restrictions and return to "normal" daily activities.

    The pandemic has had major impacts to local and national economies. Getting vaccinated is the first step to ending the pandemic. It puts us on the road to faster economic recovery.

    Learn more about the benefits of vaccination from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    • How many COVID-19 vaccine doses are needed?

      Two doses are needed for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. These both have a waiting period between the two shots. Pfizer’s vaccine doses are 21 days apart. Moderna’s are 28 days apart.

      If you skip the second shot, you will not have the full protection that the vaccine offers. It is important to get both shots to be fully protected.

    • Are there side effects to the COVID-19 vaccines?

      Yes. Side effects are normal with most vaccines and are usually mild. Reported side effects include:

      • Fatigue
      • Fever
      • Chills
      • Headache
      • Muscle aches
      • Joint pain
      • Pain at the injection site

      These symptoms are signs that the body is building immunity. They may be uncomfortable. The good news is these side effects don’t last long.

    • How long does it take to be protected after vaccination?

      Although protection from the vaccine is not immediate, the first shot starts building protection. Both available vaccines require a two-dose series. It will take one to two weeks following the second dose to get the most protection the vaccine can offer.

    • I heard there’s a new COVID-19 strain. Are the vaccines effective against it?

      All viruses mutate over time. COVID-19 is no exception. Most mutations have little to no impact on how a virus behaves. They disappear over time.

      Of the COVID-19 strains that have mutated, three have become the primary focus of health experts: "UK," "Brazil," and "South Africa." The CDC and California Department of Public Health are tracking these new strains

      A new variant found in California is also being tracked.

      Early results suggest the vaccines offer strong protection against the UK strain but somewhat less protection against the South Africa strain. Even if vaccines are less effective against some strains, they are still worth getting. This is because they make infections less serious.

      Continue to follow the preventive measures recommended. These are also effective against the new variants:

      • Staying home except for essential activities
      • Wearing a mask when leaving home
      • Limiting interactions with people outside your immediate household
      • Keeping physical distance of at least six feet apart
      • Washing hands for 20 seconds
      • Getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you
  • Availability and eligibility of the COVID-19 vaccines
    • How soon will I be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

      The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as large quantities are available. However, vaccine supply will be very limited at first. Because of this, the state has developed a priority list with three phases.

      Phase 1: Includes those at high risk for getting COVID-19 when vaccine supply is limited.

      Phase 2: Targets more high-risk groups not included in Phase 1 as more vaccines become available.

      Phase 3: Available to everyone when there is a lot of supply. According to the state, summer 2021 is the best estimate at this time for when the general public can get the vaccine. Note: this will depend on vaccine production and how quickly other vaccines become available.

      The state says it will provide a COVID-19 vaccine to everyone in California who wants it.

      For full details, see the state website on phased rollout and access.

    • Who is on the priority list for the first limited supply?

      The following phases are based on state guidelines. Priority groups may vary by county and provider.

      Phase 1A is now vaccinating the following people:

      • Healthcare workers at risk of exposure through their work in any role in direct healthcare or long-term care settings.
      • Long-term care residents in:
        • Skilled nursing facilities
        • Assisted living facilities
        • Similar settings for older or medically vulnerable individuals

      Phase 1B is vaccinating as supplies allow for people who:

      • Are 65 years or older
      • Have higher risk for severe disease or death (due to age or other factors)
      • Are unable to work at home
      • Live or work in geographic areas that have been highly impacted
      • Are most likely to spread disease to other workers or to the public
      • Those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
        • Education and childcare
        • Emergency services
        • Food and agriculture

      For full details on these groups, see the state site. Note that priority groups may vary by state.

      Also, read details about the essential worker categories by clicking here. You will be redirected to the state of California website)

      You can check your county or local area to see which phases are being vaccinated near you.

    • Are there certain groups that should not get the COVID-19 vaccine?

      Yes:

      • Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to the first dose should not get the second dose.
      • Children under 16, at this time. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in teens 16 to 17 years. Moderna is approved for ages 18 and older. Clinical trials are currently being conducted for children and more information will be available later.

      According to the CDC, you should talk with a doctor first before getting a COVID-19 shot if you:

      • Have severe allergies or carry an epinephrine (Epi-Pen, Auvi-Q, etc.) injector
      • Have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injections
      • Are immunocompromised, such as if you are HIV-positive
      • Have a moderate to severe illness or are feeling sick (in which case, you should likely wait to get vaccinated)
    • How can I find out if I'm eligible?

      Register online at myturn.ca.gov to be notified as soon as it’s your turn to get a vaccine. If you live in Los Angeles or San Diego counties, and are currently eligible for the vaccine, you can even use the site to schedule an appointment. New counties will be added in the coming weeks.

      You can also check your county's website for updates on local plans and vaccination sites in your area.

    • Do I get to choose which vaccine I get?

      No. Inventory of vaccines will be distributed based on how the provider can store the vaccine. At some sites, only one type of vaccine may be available. You can check with your healthcare provider on which vaccine they are using when the time comes.

    • Can I get vaccinated outside of the state?

      Yes, for California residents. During the public health emergency, members who reside in California may get vaccinated in other states.

      Find out where you can get a vaccine.

    • How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

      COVID-19 vaccines will be provided at no out-of-pocket costs to members.

      Vaccines have been bought by the U.S. government. Vaccination providers will be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot. These will be paid for by Brand New Day or the government. Those who receive the vaccine will not be charged for the vaccine or vaccine administration.

  • Getting a vaccine: what to expect
    • How can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

      At this time, you must fall into one of the phases or tiers that are eligible to get vaccinated.

      As of January 13, 2021, Phase 1A and Phase 1B are eligible for vaccination. Please note, availability is currently limited. It varies from county to county.

      If you are eligible, see where to get a vaccine for more resources.

    • What will I have to do to get my shot when I’m eligible?
      1. Make an appointment. Because of limited supply, you will need to make an appointment to get vaccinated.

        See where to get a vaccine for locations and websites to help you find a vaccination site.

      2. Make sure to schedule an appointment for your second dose, as well.

        Timeframes will be based on which vaccine is available at the provider.

        • 21-day window for Pfizer
        • 28-day window for Moderna
      3. When you get vaccinated, you may need to wait for about 15-30 minutes after getting the shot. This helps the healthcare team see if you have any bad reaction to it.

      4. You should receive a vaccination card or printout that tells you:

        • What COVID-19 vaccine you received
        • The date you received it
        • Where you received it

        Take a picture of this card or printout so you have a copy in case you lose it.

        The CDC has info on what to expect at your appointment.

    • What if I miss my appointment for the second dose? Does timing matter?

      You should get your second dose as close to the three to four week waiting period as possible. This will help ensure you get the best protection possible.

    • Can I mix vaccines? For example, if I get the Pfizer vaccine for my first dose, can I get the Moderna vaccine for the second dose?

      No, this is not recommended. It’s better that you get the first and second doses from the same manufacturer. To ensure this happens, it’s best to go back to the location where you got your first vaccine if you can.

      If you must go to a different location, the California Immunization Registry allows providers to check which vaccine you received for your first dose if needed.

    • If I get a vaccine at one location, do I have to go back to the same location?

      It is preferred that you return to the same provider that gave your first dose. However, this may not always be possible. For example, long-term care residents may have received their first vaccine in the facility but then get discharged. In this case, they can go to another location that provides the same type of vaccine they first received. The type of vaccine you received is listed in your Medical Record or on the immunization card given to you after the first shot.

      Also, the California Immunization Registry allows providers to check which vaccine you received for your first dose. This can help ensure you receive the same vaccine for your second dose.

      You may also receive a reminder card for your follow-up dose. Keep this card handy as it should also include the type of vaccine you received. You can also take a photo of this card so you have it in case you lose the card.

    • Will I still need to wear a mask after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

      Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, per California's COVID-19 website.

      This means you should continue to use all the tools available to help stop this pandemic. This includes:

      • Wearing masks
      • Washing hands often
      • Social distancing
      • Minimizing mixing with other households

      Also, it takes about one to two weeks after the second dose for the vaccine to be fully effective.

    • Will I be exempt from stay at home orders/restrictions if I get a vaccine?

      No. Until as many people as possible are vaccinated, it’s important to continue to with preventive measures as noted above.

  • Find out where to get tested

    To find a testing site in California click here

    No-cost testing is available at local health centers and select pharmacies:

    For local testing information, visit the California Department of Public Health’s website.

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Information Last Updated: 3/8/2021