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Am I Eligible to Receive the Vaccine?

Right now, more than half of the U.S. population (150 million) are eligible to be vaccinated, but ultimately it is each state that makes the final decision about who goes first. The first to qualify to receive the vaccines were health care workers (21 million) and the residents of long-term care (3 million).  In mid-January of this year, federal officials urged all states to open up eligibility to everyone over the age of 65 and to adults of any age with underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations are not law and it will be left up to each state to decide what medical conditions, (like cancer, diabetes, or pulmonary issues) and what jobs (like teachers, first responders, or retail employees) should give someone early access to the vaccine.  Adults in the general population, who are less than 65 years of age and older than 16, with no underlying pre-existing conditions, will be the last in line to receive the vaccine.  At this point in time, the vaccine has not been approved in children; studies are underway, but they estimate that it will be months before a vaccine is available for anyone under the age of 16.

*If you need up-to-date information on vaccine eligibility or vaccination policies in your area, go to your state or local health department website for the latest news.*

Vaccine Types, Producers and Availability

There are currently four main types of Covid-19 vaccine.  Those four types are broken into four categories of the vaccine in clinical trials: whole virus, protein subunit, viral vector, and nucleic acid (RNA and DNA). The key difference between each of the vaccines is the method of exposure used. Vaccines work by exposing the human body to particles or molecules that trigger an immune response, thus protecting the subject from future infection. 

Here are the differences:

1) WHOLE VIRUS VACCINE

  • Vaccines include: Sinopharm, Sinovac
  • Number of doses required: 2 doses, intramuscular

2) RNA or mRNA VACCINE

  • Vaccines include: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna
  • Number of doses required: 2 doses, intramuscular

3) NON-REPLICATING VIRAL VECTOR

  • Vaccines include: Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sputnik V (Gamaleya Research Institute)
  • Number of doses required: 2 doses, intramuscular

4) PROTEIN SUBUNIT

  • Vaccines include: Novavax
  • Number of doses required: 2 doses, intramuscular

Right now there are only six companies producing vaccines across the globe:

  1. Novavax
  2. AstraZeneca
  3. Johnson & Johnson
  4. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline
  5. Moderna
  6. Pfizer and BioNTech

The likelihood that you will get to choose which type of Covid-19 vaccine you receive is slim to none.  The ability to choose will heavily rely on availability within your state. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the only two vaccines currently approved, although the third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is on the way.

*Check your state health department website for more information about the vaccines available in your state.*

How Do I Find Vaccination Locations and the Latest Information on Covid-19?

Boston Children’s Hospital epidemiologists have teamed up with software developers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Harvard Medical School, and Castlight to create a website for people to easily find out the latest information on Covid-19 and vaccine availability in their area. The site is called Vaccinefinder.org.  Now Americans can find testing sites minutes away from their home, with one click of the mouse.

VaccineFinder Displays Information about:

  • Types of COVID-19 vaccines available
  • Website and phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Instructions on how to take the next step to get vaccinated

Your local state and county websites are two excellent sources to assist you in getting vaccinated.  Most public health departments offer online portals where you can go to set up a vaccination appointment.  In the coming weeks, it should become easier to receive the vaccine as our current administration is working to expand vaccination centers to include stadiums, mobile clinics, medical offices, and pharmacies.  With more sites available, the vaccine can then be more easily distributed and this, in turn, stops the bottlenecks.

Is the Covid-19 vaccine free?

Receiving the vaccine should not cost you anything out of pocket, but be prepared for the healthcare worker to ask to see your insurance credentials.  Even if you do not have health insurance, the vaccine will not cost you anything; however, American Exchange can help you enroll in an ACA health plan during the Special Open Enrollment period going on now until May 15, 2021. If you qualify for Premium Subsidy Assistance, you may pay little to no cost for your monthly premiums.

Sources:

  1. Cdc.gov
  2. nytimes.com
  3. vaccinefinder.org