There is no shortage of information about the COVID-19 vaccines, but to get you started we answer frequently asked questions and offer our curated list of resources below.
What are the approved COVID-19 vaccines?
As of now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) for emergency use. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offer a comparison of these products, and the FDA provides further information. All three vaccines have proven highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death within weeks of the first dose.
Update: On April 13, 2021, the FDA and CDC recommended a pause in the use of J&J’s vaccine after six women in the U.S. (out of the nearly 7 million who have received the vaccine) developed a rare blood clotting disorder. On April 23, the FDA and CDC lifted the pause, concluding that the risks are extremely small and that the available data show the vaccine’s benefits outweigh this risk in individuals 18 years of age and older. The FDA also engaged in a widespread effort to alert clinicians as to the potential risks.
Are the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines safe and effective?
According to experts, the vaccines cannot give you COVID-19 because they do not contain a live virus. Furthermore, it has been widely reported that all three vaccines are highly effective against severe disease, hospitalization, and death within weeks of the first dose. Learn more.
As the CDC explains, the COVID-19 vaccines being distributed in the United States are safe and effective for most people, although some may experience temporary side effects. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines’ safety and efficacy.
The CDC provides more specific guidance for individuals with underlying medical conditions. The CDC also offers recommendations about the vaccine for people with disabilities.
Can children younger than 16 receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. On May 12, 2021, the CDC approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in adolescents ages 12-15. Moderna is also engaging in clinical trials with children as young as 12, and Johnson & Johnson was starting trials with infants and pregnant women. The FDA reviews the data once the trials are completed. The CDC recently released the following information and resources about the COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens:
The American Academy of Pediatrics publicly released its own guidance about the vaccine in February 2021. Younger children with high-risk medical conditions may become eligible sooner. Parents of high-risk children may wish to check with their state or local health department and health insurance company. For young children, here is a short book to help explain the importance of getting the vaccine and herd immunity.
How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost me?
The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to anyone living in the U.S., but your vaccination provider may bill your insurance company, Medicaid or Medicare for an administration fee. Vaccination providers can be reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company.Vaccination providers can be reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or the patient’s private insurance company. In fact, in March 2021, the federal government increased the Medicare vaccine reimbursement to $40 per shot, up from $28.39. The federal government’s Provider Relief Fund is also available to reimburse healthcare providers for treating uninsured patients. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay the vaccine administration fee. Learn more.
What is the status of COVID-19 infection, deaths and vaccination in my state?
National guidelines are emerging, but vaccination supply, eligibility, and distribution differ from state to state. The CDC closely tracks the spread of COVID-19 as well as hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccine distribution and administration. Learn more about the status of COVID-19 in your state and locality. Johns Hopkins University also maintains a comprehensive COVID-19 dashboard on global, U.S., and state data.
Am I eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in my state?
As of April 19th, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that all U.S. adults in all 50 states are eligible to receive the vaccine. The CDC issued general recommendations to guide state and local distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, but earlier in the pandemic each state and locality determined its own eligibility protocols and distributed the vaccine according to its own supply. This explained why someone in a neighboring state might have been eligible to receive the vaccine before you. Find information about your state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Most states allow you to sign up in advance for text or email notifications.
As a person with a disability, what resources are available to help me learn if I am eligible and what the vaccine means for me?
The Administration on Community Living’s (ACL) Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities maintains a dashboard tracking the prioritization of people with disabilities by each state. Updated weekly, this dashboard is a crucial resource for people with disabilities to keep updated on when they are eligible to receive a vaccine. ACL's Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center also has a variety of plain-language resources by and for people with disabilities, including a recent vaccination guide.