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11 Things to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccines

We all could use some good news after this last year—and the COVID-19 vaccines are great news. The vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in large clinical trials. And they’re available at no cost to everyone living in the United States.

When everyone is vaccinated, we can start getting back to seeing our family and friends and enjoying everything Rhode Island has to offer. Here are 11 things to know about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccination matters

1. You’re covered for the vaccine at no cost.
In 2021, the U.S. government is providing the vaccine for free, and your BCBSRI health plan will cover the cost for the vaccine to be administered. If you have a BCBSRI Medicare Advantage plan or Plan 65, Original Medicare will pay for the vaccine, so please use the Medicare number on your red, white, and blue Medicare card. Members of all other plans should use their BCBSRI member ID card number. You won’t pay anything when you receive the vaccine from a pharmacy or other provider approved by the government. 

2. Get vaccinated as soon as possible—with the first vaccine available to you.
The vaccine’s availability is based on a phased distribution schedule in each state. The plan enables everyone to be vaccinated but not all at once. When the vaccine is available to you, you’ll be able to receive it at a pharmacy, a provider, or a vaccination clinic. All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States were shown to be effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19, so it’s important to take the first vaccine available to you. You can find more information on COVID-19 vaccines through the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

3. Vaccinate for yourself and for others who can't because of medical conditions.
Herd immunity is when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. Many adults have medical conditions that will prevent them from getting the vaccine even if they want it. So, it's up to us to keep them protected by doing our part and getting the vaccine for them.

4. Get vaccinated even if you’ve had COVID-19.
COVID-19 has serious health risks, and we don't yet know how long natural immunity lasts. So the CDC recommends you still get vaccinated even if you've had COVID-19 to reduce the risk of reinfection—to protect yourself and others around you. If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, the CDC advises waiting 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.1 Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccines are safe

5. The COVID-19 vaccines met the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous scientific standards for safety.
COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials, and millions of people in the United States have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine. These vaccines will undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.2

6. The vaccines do not contain the live COVID-19 virus.
None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines (or the vaccines currently in development in the United States) contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. Instead, the vaccines teach our immune systems to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19.1

7. Some people may experience mild side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection.
Side effects should go away in a few days. Common side effects include pain or swelling on your arm where you received the shot as well as headache, fever, chills, or tiredness.3

The vaccines work

8. The vaccines were found to be effective in diverse groups of adults.
The COVID-19 vaccines were studied across a population of diverse ages, races, and sexes. The vaccines were tested in older adults and communities of color. There is not yet a vaccine approved for children.

9. It’s crucial to get both doses for vaccines that require two doses.
Like many childhood vaccines, getting both doses is crucial to the vaccine working. The first shot starts to build immunity, and the second shot ensures maximum protection. By getting both shots, we protect not only ourselves, but those around us.

Keep being careful

10. Wear your mask even after you are vaccinated.
After vaccination, continuing to socially distance and wear face masks will prevent the spread of illness to others. Why? Because experts are still learning about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions. So keep on masking and social distancing; you're doing the right thing.

11. Promote vaccination to family, friends, and neighbors.
Some people are hesitant to receive the vaccination. Once you’ve been vaccinated, let people know and share your sticker or button on social media. Just be careful not to share your vaccination card on social media, as it contains personal information that could be used by scammers.

Both this disease and the vaccine are new. We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help everyone.

If you have questions about being vaccinated, talk with your doctor. You can also find information through the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information on your BCBSRI benefits related to COVID-19, please visit our Keeping You Well and Well-Informed site.

1CDC, Myths and Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines 
2CDC, Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines
3CDC, What to Expect after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine


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