COVID-19 Information and Resources
Slow the Spread and Save Lives
Things you need to know about the COVID-19 Vaccine
It is safe. Your safety is the top priority of researchers and manufacturers who created the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine development process was similar to steps taken to develop the flu and measles vaccines. Clinical trials, FDA testing and advisory group review were part of this process. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and are being thoughtfully distributed in phases.
Two doses of the current vaccine are required to have the greatest immunity. They are given a few weeks apart. The first vaccination prepares the body’s immune system and helps it recognize the virus. The second vaccination strengthens the immune response.
In the early phases of the vaccine, supply will be limited, but that will increase in the months to come. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available at no charge.
Adults and those 16 years and older are encouraged to get the vaccine when it is available.
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccine questions and answers from the Georgia Department of Public Health, click here.
Please go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the most accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines and any side effects or adverse event information. Also, you can check out the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System website for up-to-date data on side effects.
You asked, our doctors answered…
Check out the information below from a CareSource Medical Director*:
Background Information on COVID-19 Spread
How is COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is most commonly spread by breathing in the fluids or droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air and then breathed in by another person who is close by.
Can people who have already had COVID-19 get it again?
Yes, they can. People can either get the original virus again, or a variant of the virus.
By getting the COVID-19 vaccine, you can lower your risk of getting COVID-19 again. Also, if you do happen to get COVID-19 again, the vaccine reduces the risk of you having major issues like breathing troubles, respiratory failure or death.
How many deaths have been caused by COVID-19?
To get the most up-to-date news, check out the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker.
Background Information on the COVID-19 Vaccine
How were the COVID-19 vaccines made?
Usually, vaccines are made by taking a virus or bacteria into a lab and making it weaker so that it can’t make a copy of itself. In the past, there have mainly been three ways that a virus can be weakened:
- By changing its genes
- By totally destroying its genes
- By taking only a piece of the virus
With the COVID-19 vaccines, the processes were a little different. These processes created two types of COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
- Viral Vector Vaccine: This type of vaccine uses a harmless version of a different virus to carry out vital instruction to our cells. For this vaccine, the harmless different virus (the vector) will make a protein that the immune system will realize doesn’t belong there and will fight it off.
- mRNA Vaccine: For this type of vaccine, the messenger RNA (mRNA), a set of genetic instructions, teaches our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. This immune response would have our bodies ready to handle a real COVID-19 infection.
What are the different COVID-19 vaccines available?
Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines that are FDA-approved:
- Moderna (mRNA vaccine with two doses, taken 28 days apart)
- Pfizer-BioNTech (mRNA vaccine with two doses, taken 21 days apart)
- Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (viral vector vaccine with one dose)
Which COVID-19 vaccine is best for me?
The CDC doesn’t recommend one vaccine over another, and all are safe and effective.
The only time you need to ask about one vaccine over another is in the case of allergies. If you have a known allergy to an ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine, or have an allergic reaction after the first dose of your vaccine, call your primary care provider (PCP) right away to find out about other options.
How many doses of the vaccine will I need?
For both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, you need to get two doses.
The Pfizer vaccine is a series of two doses, 21 days apart. The Moderna vaccine is a series of two doses, 28 days apart. Both doses are needed to get the most protection out of the COVID-19 vaccines.
For the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, you will only need to get one dose.
Can I switch vaccine brands between the first and second dose?
No, both your shots should be with the same brand unless your doctor recommends otherwise due to an allergic reaction.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No. The COVID-19 vaccine does not have the live virus that causes COVID-19 and cannot cause COVID-19.
If people that already got the vaccine are now protected, why does it matter if I get the vaccine or not?
Here’s the simple reason why: so that we can reach herd immunity.
Herd immunity means that most of the population is immune or will not get an infectious disease, like COVID-19, because most people now have the antibodies to fight against it. This happens due to the vaccine or recovering from an infection. In the case of COVID-19, herd immunity gives indirect protection to those who are not immune to it (i.e. those that have not been vaccinated and have never had COVID-19). With herd immunity, the spread of COVID-19 will be lowered by a huge amount. The higher the level of immunity, the better it is for our entire community.
That’s why it’s so vital that everyone get vaccinated: herd immunity. There’s power in numbers. It’s really not just about individual protection; it’s about working together to fight against COVID-19 to make sure the vaccine is as effective as it can be.
Getting Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine
Where can I get the vaccine?
Here are some ways you can find a place to get your COVID-19 vaccine:
- Check with your PCP.
- Go to vaccine.gov.
- Check your local pharmacy (e.g., pharmacies at Walgreens® or Giant Eagle®).
- Contact your state health department.
- Call Member Services using the following numbers based on your plan:
- Medicare Advantage: 1-844-607-2827 (TTY: 711)
- Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan: 1-833-230-2020 (TTY: 711)
Do I need to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone in the United States at no charge. Even people that do not have insurance are covered by the federal government.
Can CareSource help with rides so I can get the vaccine?
Yes, CareSource can help arrange rides to your vaccine appointments unless it’s at a drive-through facility.
During and After Your COVID-19 Vaccination
What do I do once I get to the vaccination site?
As soon as you get to the site, just give the person at the front desk your driver’s license or government ID card. They will fill out a vaccination card for you with your name, date of birth, the vaccine type you’re getting and the date you’re getting it. They will then seat you somewhere and give you the vaccine in the arm of your choice. After that, you’ll just wait 15 minutes to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions. It’s that simple!
Is there anything I should do before I leave?
Before you leave the site where you’re getting your first dose, be sure to set up a time for your second dose. This way, you’ll get the right type of second dose within the right timeframe. Most times, either the nurse or someone at the front desk will write down the date of your second vaccination appointment so it’s easier to remember.
What do I do if I miss my second dose appointment?
Tell the site where you got your first dose that you missed your second dose and maybe they will be able to squeeze you in. If that’s not possible, no worries. Just go to a different site that has more openings and get the second dose. Just make sure you’re getting the same brand as your first dose.
If you need help finding a site for your second dose, contact your Care Manager if you have one. They can help you set up an appointment ASAP.
You can also call Member Services using the following numbers based on your plan:
- Medicare Advantage: 1-844-607-2827 (TTY: 711)
- Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan: 1-833-230-2020 (TTY: 711)
Exposure to COVID-19 After Getting the Vaccine
Can people who have gotten the vaccine still get COVID-19?
While there’s always a small chance of getting COVID-19 even after getting the vaccine, the vaccine will protect you from severe symptoms of COVID-19.
Is the vaccine needed for those who have already had COVID-19?
No matter whether you have already had COVID-19 or not, you should get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will lower the risk of you having any major issues if you were to get COVID-19 again.
Will the vaccines protect against new strains of COVID-19?
Studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines protect against most strains of the COVID-19 virus, even new ones. The CDC continues to keep an eye on the spread of new strains and how well the vaccines will protect us against them.
Do I still need to wear masks or social distance after I’m vaccinated?
Wear a mask indoors if you’re in a public place. This will help you stay protected from the Delta variant and help prevent spread to others. Also, you need to wear a mask in spaces where they’ve clearly spelled out that they require you to wear a mask, whether it’s at a local business, your workplace or even certain territories that have their own rules (e.g., tribal areas like Navajo Nation).
Safety and Effectiveness of the COVID-19 Vaccine
Is the vaccine safe?
It is safe. The vaccine was tested on tens of thousands of people in clinical trials and follows the FDA’s strict standards for safety. The COVID-19 vaccine is constantly being monitored to make sure of its safety. For more information, check out this article on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
How effective are the different COVID-19 vaccines?
In clinical trials, each of the different vaccines were shown to have different effectiveness rates:
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was shown to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in those that were fully vaccinated, which is two weeks after getting the second dose.
- The Moderna vaccine was shown to be 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in those that were fully vaccinated, which is two weeks after getting the second dose.
- The Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine was shown to be 66.3% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in those that were fully vaccinated, which is two weeks after getting the dose.
Even though the vaccines’ effectiveness rates vary from one vaccine to another, all vaccines have been shown to protect those who have gotten it from having to go to the hospital due to breathing problems and serious issues. That’s really the key to ending the pandemic. If the virus were no longer such a threat to people’s lives, we could finally go back to normal.
How long does the protection from the vaccine last?
The most recent data shows that we may be protected for up to eight months.
Are there any adverse effects with the vaccine?
There are very few times when someone may be told to not take the COVID-19 vaccine, due to potential adverse effects, but these instances are extremely rare. The CDC has more details on adverse effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re interested in learning more.
How do the COVID-19 vaccines affect those that may have allergies?
For a full list of COVID-19 vaccine allergens, and how these vaccines are for people with allergies, check out the CDC’s guide on COVID-19 vaccines for people with allergies.
Side Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccine
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
The most common side effects are very similar to the side effects seen with most vaccines.
Common side effects on the arm are pain, redness and swelling. Common side effects on the rest of the body include fatigue, headaches, muscle pains, chills, fever and nausea/vomiting.
Another thing to note is that the side effects can vary between the first and second doses of the vaccine and can vary from person to person. Some people have no side effects at all, some people have similar side effects for both doses, and some people have more severe side effects during the second dose.
No matter how your side effects are after getting the vaccine, this is just your body responding to the vaccine. It is normal and expected.
Are the side effects different from vaccine to vaccine?
The common side effects are very similar from vaccine to vaccine. Either way, remember that side effects are normal signs that your body is building immunity.
COVID-19 Vaccine vs. Other Medications, Supplements and Vaccines
Is it okay to take health supplements to boost my immune system during COVID-19?
Feel free to continue taking health supplements approved by your primary care provider (PCP). If you would like to start taking any new supplements, check with your PCP first.
Are there are any medications I should avoid before or after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
For the most part, you can continue taking medications that have been prescribed to you by your PCP. If any of your medications may suppress the immune system though, talk to your PCP to come up with another solution.
How does the COVID-19 vaccine interact with other medications?
This really depends on the medication. Some medications can affect the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, like long-term steroids. Medications like Advil may also affect how well the COVID-19 vaccine works. Either way, talk to your PCP to come up with another solution if you need to take these medications on a regular basis.
How long should I wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine after getting another vaccine?
It doesn’t matter. Timing is not an issue. You can get the COVID-19 vaccine around the same time as other vaccines you may need, such as the flu shot.
Children, Pregnant Women and COVID-19 Vaccines
Do children really need the COVID-19 vaccine?
Even though children generally don’t have severe symptoms like adults do, they can still be infected with the virus, get sick and spread COVID-19 to others. For this reason, it’s best that children 12 years and older get the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against the virus and help stop the pandemic.
Getting children vaccinated can help protect the whole family and bring you one step closer to doing the activities you have missed.
How old do children have to be to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Children 12 years and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine. For now, the only vaccine that is available for children as young as 12 is the Pfizer-BioNTech.
Can children get other vaccines at the same time as their vaccine?
Yes, they can. Children can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit without waiting time between vaccines.
Can babies get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Right now, there aren’t any vaccines approved for babies. However, studies on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in younger children are in progress.
Can pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, they can. The CDC recommends that pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine.
*This content does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Member Support & Resources
CareSource24® Nurse Advice Line
CareSource24® Nurse Advice Line provides around-the-clock access to a caring and experienced staff of registered nurses. They can help you decide where to get care. Members can call the CareSource24 toll-free number located on their CareSource member ID cards 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
We want our members to know their health coverage through CareSource continues to offer many existing programs and services. This also includes state resources due to COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Testing – COVID-19 testing is covered with no out-of-pocket costs for all members, regardless of their plan. Members will receive COVID-19 testing at approved locations.
- CareSource24® Nurse Advice Line – CareSource24® Nurse Advice Line provides around-the-clock access to a caring and experienced staff of registered nurses. They can answer questions you may have about your symptoms, general health and where to get care.
- Telehealth Services – Telehealth options are encouraged as available from your primary care provider (PCP) or through MYidealDOCTOR™. CareSource partners with MYidealDOCTOR to offer members access 24/7 to doctors by phone, mobile app or computer to evaluate symptoms or risk of infection, and triage next steps. Contact your PCP to see if they offer telehealth visits.
- Care Management – Care Management is available to support members at higher risk for more serious problems from COVID-19 illness.
Pharmacy – Prescription Drugs
- Early Medication Refills – Early refills of your medications for all CareSource members is available for most drugs. CareSource is temporarily waiving early refill limits on maintenance medications. Check for coverage of your prescriptions. Visit Find My Prescriptions.
- 90-day Medication Supply – One-time 90-day supply of non-controlled prescription drugs for CareSource members (where allowable). Check for coverage of your prescriptions. Visit Find My Prescriptions.
- Home Delivery for Prescription Drugs – Home delivery for prescription drugs is available to Georgia Medicare Advantage members at participating pharmacies.
- MyResources – MyResources interactive tool connects members with programs and services. This includes access to food, shelter, financial support and more. Log into your My CareSource® account.
- State Resources
- File for Unemployment
- Apply for Medicaid
- Georgia Department of Public Health
- Resource for Services and Assistance amid COVID-19
- GA COVID-19 Telephone Hotline: 1-844-442-2681
CDC Resources: COVID-19 Information
If you are having trouble finding the information you are looking for on our website or have more questions, please call us. Our Member Services staff will be happy to answer your questions.