Resources to stay up-to-date on the COVID-19 vaccine
There is hope on the horizon for the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the recently FDA-emergency use authorized (EUA) Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines and potentially more vaccine EUAs on the way. Vaccination efforts across the nation are currently focused on those with the highest risk of exposure and those that have a higher risk for severe disease or death. Plans for the wider population are being finalized.
This may feel like there are a lot of unknowns. How will you know when you can get vaccinated? Where can you get a vaccination? Will it cost you anything? While waiting for news and final plans, there are a few things you can do to stay up to date and healthy.
What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout
The California Department of Public Health has prioritized access to the vaccines into three general phases:
- Phase 1: Limited supply – Includes those at highest risk for contracting COVID.
- Phase 2: Larger doses available – Targets more groups as more vaccines become available.
- Phase 3: Available to everyone – According to the state, summer 2021 is the best estimate for when the general public can get the vaccine. This will depend on vaccine production and how quickly other vaccines become available.
As the vaccine becomes more available, the California Department of Public Health will provide further instructions on getting the vaccine to more groups of people. Blue Shield members can get answers to questions about vaccine availability and coverage at our COVID-19 resource center. You can also find links to county sites where more local information may be available.
How to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine
In addition to frequently checking eligibility status, there are a few things you can do so you can be prepared when the vaccine is available to you.
- Talk to your doctor about existing health conditions, allergies, or other concerns you may have.
- Research local centers where vaccines will be offered to your community.
- Follow city and county government sources that will keep you updated on vaccine rollout plans.
How to know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe
Some may be concerned by the speed at which the vaccine was developed and the vaccine’s efficacy. It’s important to know that the vaccines went through a thorough safety assessment, including large clinical trials and safety review.
For those who are concerned that the COVID-19 vaccine might accidentally infect someone with the virus, both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA technology – not live vaccines – to stimulate an immune response. mRNA vaccines use genetic proteins to help trigger antibodies that help fight off the virus. Most vaccines for other virus-based diseases use a weakened or inactivated version of the virus, known as live vaccines, to help trigger those antibodies. Therefore, the new vaccines using mRNA technology pose no threat of infection because no actual virus was included in the vaccine’s makeup.
The CDC highlights several initial benefits to getting the vaccine, including:
- Protection from being infected with COVID-19
- A safer way to help build immunity against COVID-19, reducing risk of serious symptoms, hospitalization, and death
- An additional tool in helping to curb the pandemic, protecting your family and community
What you can do now
The pandemic has hit many of us hard: emotionally, financially, and mentally. It’s natural to want to return to life as normal and just hope that the vaccine will be here tomorrow. But the reality is, even with the vaccine already being administered to millions of people, many of us still need to take measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Some of the best ways to do your part is to continue social distancing, wearing a mask when outside your home, washing your hands, and avoid mixing households. Keep in mind that even after you get the vaccine, you’ll still need to follow these guidelines to reduce risk of spreading the virus to others.
Focusing on what you can control and taking care of your mental health and wellness can be a great way to practice self-care in the following months. Talk with friends and family, ask for support, and find ways to help one another. Depending on your Blue Shield health plan, you might have access to virtual mental health consultations via Teladoc or Magellan. You can also search for mental health providers using our Find a Doctor tool.
The COVID-19 vaccine holds promise that this pandemic will end. Until then, we must continue to do our part until the vaccine is more widely available. Staying informed, talking to your doctor, taking precautions to continue to curb the spread, and taking care of your mental health are positive things you can do right now. That way you, your loved ones, and your community can be prepared when the vaccine is finally available to everyone who needs it.