What is the anticipated timeframe for needing a booster shot?

The need for and timing of booster doses for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines has not been established. No additional doses beyond the two-dose primary series are recommended at this time. 

Will boosters need to be consistent with whichever initial vaccine (e.g., If you get the Moderna initial vaccine, would I need to get a Moderna booster or would any booster work?)

The need for and timing of booster doses for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines has not been established. No additional doses beyond the two-dose primary series are recommended at this time. 

According to the CDC, these mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or with other COVID-19 vaccine products.

The safety and efficacy of a mixed-product series have not been evaluated. Both doses of the series should be completed with the same product.

Is the MRNA vaccine less safe vs. Astra Zeneca more traditional viral vector vaccine?

mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the immune cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them.

Next, the cell displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19.

At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain this protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.

mRNA vaccines have been held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the United States. The only COVID-19 vaccines the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will make available for use in the United States (by approval or emergency use authorization) are those that meet these standards.

The DR. said J&J “came out the other day”. Made it sound like it was approved.  Maybe should clarify?

To clarify, on Thursday, February 4th, Johnson & Johnson announced that they had applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of its Janssen Covid-19 vaccine candidate. FDA officials will review the submitted data, compile a report, and submit the report to an independent vaccine advisory committee. The committee will then meet on February 26 and make their recommendation, which means that the FDA could decide on a EUA by the end of February.

What is the data related to efficacy of preventing other symptoms, in particular, lingering symptoms of fever, extreme fatigue, and loss of taste and smell?

At this point in time, one could only speculate since there is no actual data.

Is there a chance that Johnson and Johnson and Novax will become even more effective against the virus? Or is the 68% and 89% what it is?

At this point in time, one could only speculate since there is no actual data.

How do we know if they are safe in the long-term since we don’t have long term data?

mRNA vaccines have been held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the United States. The only COVID-19 vaccines the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will make available for use in the United States (by approval or emergency use authorization) are those that meet these standards.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines which have been shown to be safe and effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials. These data demonstrate that the known and potential benefits of this vaccine outweigh the known and potential harms of becoming infected with COVID 19.

The CDC and FDA have created the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a national system that collects reports from healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the public of adverse events that happen after vaccination; reports of adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns are followed up with specific studies.

Do you know when adolescents will be able to get the vaccine?  My son is 12 and I know they are doing clinical trials right now but haven’t heard a target date when the vaccine will be available for those under age 16.

Trials for children under 12 years old are expected to begin this summer and would take several months to complete. Thus, vaccination is unlikely to be available to school-aged children before school begins this fall. For this reason, it is even more important for parents and other adults to be vaccinated to provide protection for children. It also means that infection prevention strategies will still be important for school-aged children until a safe and effective vaccine becomes available to those age groups.

Adolescents aged 16–17 years are included among persons eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine under the EUA. While vaccine safety and efficacy data in this age group are limited, there are no biologically plausible reasons for safety and efficacy profiles to be different than those observed in persons 18 years of age and older. Adolescents aged 16–17 years who are part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine may be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with appropriate assent. Children and adolescents younger than 16 years of age are not authorized to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

Children and adolescents younger than 18 years of age are not authorized to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

What if a person with asymptomatic COVID-19 gets vaccinated? Is the vaccine effective? Is it harmful?

Data from clinical trials indicate that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines can safely be given to persons with evidence of a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. Vaccination should be offered to persons regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Viral testing to assess for acute SARS-CoV-2 infection or serologic testing to assess for prior infection for the purposes of vaccine decision-making is not recommended.

Vaccination of persons with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should be deferred until the person has recovered from the acute illness (if the person had symptoms) and criteria have been met for them to discontinue isolation. This recommendation applies to persons who experience SARS-CoV-2 infection before receiving any vaccine doses as well as those who experience SARS-CoV-2 infection after the first dose but before receipt of the second dose.

While there is no recommended minimum interval between infection and vaccination, current evidence suggests that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection is low in the months after initial infection but may increase with time due to waning immunity. Thus, while vaccine supply remains limited, persons with recent documented acute SARS-CoV-2 infection may choose to temporarily delay vaccination, if desired, recognizing that the risk of reinfection, and therefore the need for vaccination, might increase with time following initial infection.

For vaccinated persons who subsequently experience COVID-19, prior receipt of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should not affect treatment decisions (including use of monoclonal antibodies, convalescent plasma, antiviral treatment, or corticosteroid administration) or timing of such treatments.

Can you explain how getting a vaccine protects one’s family and community? And how this relates to needing to wear a mask after being vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.

Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.

Why is it safe for pregnant women to get vaccine if children aren’t supposed to get vaccines?

Observational data demonstrate that while the absolute risk is low, pregnant people with COVID-19 have an increased risk of severe illness, including illness resulting in intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation, or death. Additionally, they might be at an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth.

There are currently few data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, including mRNA vaccines, in pregnant people. Limited data are currently available from animal developmental and reproductive toxicity studies. No safety concerns were demonstrated in rats that received Moderna COVID-19 vaccine prior to or during gestation in terms of female reproduction, fetal/embryonal development, or postnatal development. Studies in pregnant people are planned and the vaccine manufacturers are following outcomes in people in the clinical trials who became pregnant. Based on current knowledge, experts believe that mRNA vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to the pregnant person or the fetus because mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines. The mRNA in the vaccine is degraded quickly by normal cellular processes and does not enter the nucleus of the cell. However, the potential risks of mRNA vaccines to the pregnant person and the fetus are unknown because these vaccines have not been studied in pregnant people.

If pregnant people are part of a group that is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., healthcare personnel), they may choose to be vaccinated. A conversation between the patient and their clinical team may assist with decisions regarding the use of a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, though a conversation with a healthcare provider is not required prior to vaccination. When making a decision, pregnant people and their healthcare providers should consider the level of COVID-19 community transmission, the patient’s personal risk of contracting COVID-19, the risks of COVID-19 to the patient and potential risks to the fetus, the efficacy of the vaccine, the side effects of the vaccine, and the lack of data about the vaccine during pregnancy.

Side effects can occur with COVID-19 vaccine use in pregnant people, similar to those expected among non-pregnant people. Pregnant people who experience fever following vaccination can be counseled to take acetaminophen because fever has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

I’ve heard some say to take Ibuprofen or acetaminophen before and/or after taking the vaccination but have also read that doing so could minimize the effectiveness of the vaccinations. Which is true?

If you regularly take aspirin, acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil) for other medical conditions, continue to do so as directed by your physician or as needed.

In general, pre-medicating with over-the-counter medications that reduce fever or inflammation such as acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) and ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil) before receiving a vaccine may reduce its ability to work and can blunt your immune response to the vaccine. The time to take these over-the-counter medications is after you have symptoms that make you uncomfortable after vaccination. If you are uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to take an over-the-counter medication to help you feel better. If you usually take these medications for other medical reasons, continue to take them per your normal routine

Once vaccinated is there still the risk of getting COVID-19 if exposed to a positive person.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.

At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing.

Since vaccine side effects causes mild COVID symptoms, how does this affect patients with autoimmune disease. Will these patients have antibody to fight it. I.e. Lupus

mRNA COVID-19 vaccines can administered to persons with underlying medical conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination. Clinical trials demonstrated similar safety and efficacy profiles in persons with some underlying medical conditions, including those that place them at increased risk for severe COVID-19, compared to persons without comorbidities.

Persons with HIV infection or other immunocompromising conditions, or who take immunosuppressive medications or therapies might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. Data are not currently available to establish vaccine safety and efficacy in these groups. Persons with stable HIV infection were included in mRNA COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, though data remain limited. Immunocompromised individuals can receive COVID-19 vaccination if they have no contraindications to vaccination. However, they should be counseled about the unknown vaccine safety profile and effectiveness in immunocompromised populations, and the potential for reduced immune responses and the need to continue to follow all current guidance to protect themselves against COVID-19 (see below). Antibody testing is not recommended to assess for immunity to COVID-19 following mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.

At this time, re-vaccination is not recommended after immune competence is regained in persons who received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines during chemotherapy or treatment with other immunosuppressive drugs. Recommendations on re-vaccination or additional doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be updated when additional information is available.

Since vaccine side effects causes mild COVID symptoms, how does this affect patients with autoimmune disease. Will these patients have antibody to fight it. I.e. Lupus (Continued)

No data are currently available on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in persons with autoimmune conditions, though these persons were eligible for enrollment in clinical trials. No imbalances were observed in the occurrence of symptoms consistent with autoimmune conditions or inflammatory disorders in clinical trial participants who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine compared to placebo. Persons with autoimmune conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

I have heard concerns with the vaccine creating a situation in the body that attacks a protein produced in early pregnancy.  Is there any truth to this, even remote?

Observational data demonstrate that while the absolute risk is low, pregnant people with COVID-19 have an increased risk of severe illness, including illness resulting in intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation, or death. Additionally, they might be at an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth.

There are currently few data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, including mRNA vaccines, in pregnant people. Limited data are currently available from animal developmental and reproductive toxicity studies. No safety concerns were demonstrated in rats that received Moderna COVID-19 vaccine prior to or during gestation in terms of female reproduction, fetal/embryonal development, or postnatal development. Studies in pregnant people are planned and the vaccine manufacturers are following outcomes in people in the clinical trials who became pregnant. Based on current knowledge, experts believe that mRNA vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to the pregnant person or the fetus because mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines. The mRNA in the vaccine is degraded quickly by normal cellular processes and does not enter the nucleus of the cell. However, the potential risks of mRNA vaccines to the pregnant person and the fetus are unknown because these vaccines have not been studied in pregnant people.

If pregnant people are part of a group that is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., healthcare personnel), they may choose to be vaccinated. A conversation between the patient and their clinical team may assist with decisions regarding the use of a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, though a conversation with a healthcare provider is not required prior to vaccination. When making a decision, pregnant people and their healthcare providers should consider the level of COVID-19 community transmission, the patient’s personal risk of contracting COVID-19, the risks of COVID-19 to the patient and potential risks to the fetus, the efficacy of the vaccine, the side effects of the vaccine, and the lack of data about the vaccine during pregnancy.

Side effects can occur with COVID-19 vaccine use in pregnant people, similar to those expected among non-pregnant people. Pregnant people who experience fever following vaccination can be counseled to take acetaminophen because fever has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Acetaminophen can be offered as an option for pregnant people experiencing other post-vaccination symptoms.

There is no recommendation for routine pregnancy testing before receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.

The 3 million doses…are those total doses, meaning 1st and 2nd?  Would be interesting to see the % rate of those who actually get the second dose.

As of February 14th, 38.8M people had received one dose and 14.5M had received a second dose.

Hello! We have an employee scheduled for a COVID vaccine tomorrow. He was told he needs “proof of eligibility” which can be an employee id badge (which we do not have) or a letter from an employer. Is there anything that we must include in the letter other than stating that he works for our company?

Go to the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus) to find your state and local health departments who are responsible for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. All questions and concerns should be sent to your state government or local health department.

For those designated as a priority (food/agriculture), how does one maneuver thru this process when sites are focused solely on age?

Go to the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus) to find your state and local health departments who are responsible for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. All questions and concerns should be sent to your state government or local health department.

If I receive Pfizer for my initial 2 doses and we do require annual vaccines going forward, does it matter if I receive a different manufactures vaccine the following year?

According to the CDC, these mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other or with other COVID-19 vaccine products. The safety and efficacy of a mixed-product series have not been evaluated. Both doses of the series should be completed with the same product.

Are the new UK and South Africa strains impacting children any differently than the original COVID 19 strain?

In the first wave of COVID-19, COVID-19 was more likely to infect adults than children. But in the past two to three months in the U.S., there has been a significant increase in the percentage of children diagnosed with COVID-19.

At this point, it doesn’t seem that the new strains have anything to do with this – but eventually, they could.

CDC, in collaboration with other public health agencies, is monitoring the situation closely. CDC is working to monitor the spread of identified variants, characterize emerging viral variants, and expand its ability to find new SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Do you have any updates on the new California distribution plan? The one Gov. Newsom mentioned?

Please visit the California Department of Public Health Home page cdph.ca.gov

When will the vaccines be available in CA?

As of February 15th, California was administering vaccinations to healthcare workers and people over the age of 65.

Does CVS eventually plan to make vaccine available to corporate locations at their office?

This is related to the onsite clinic option – it is something that is being evaluated as the vaccine is more widely available. In the meantime, we do have an onsite clinic option for clients who meet the eligible criteria (see above)

Do you anticipate once it is available to the general population if they will offer onsite vaccination clinics like flu clinics?

Same as above

Would it possible to have vaccinations available for direct employer groups with CVS/Caremark as a PBM?

Same as above

Did Sree communicate they will have the ability to vaccine 25,000,000 people per month?

Assuming adequate supply of the vaccine and supplies, CVS Health has the capacity to administer 20-25 million doses a month.

Is the vaccination registration separate that my CVS rewards membership? If I am a CVS customer/rewards card, is it tied to my CVS membership? My household uses the same rewards card and there are more than 2 people in my household.

I am not following this question. What do they mean by CVS rewards/Extracare and CVS membership? Do they mean PBM benefit? If so, yes, it is different.

We had asked about having CVS provide testing a while back at our branch and the answer at the time was no.  It is now possible to coordinate on site testing. Average cost? Rapid or PCR?

That would be directed to our Return Ready team. More info can be found at cvshealth.com/covid-19/return-ready/workplaces

Could you please confirm the CVS online sites where an individual can go on to determine vaccine eligibility and scheduling for both doses?

Visit CVS.com

Could you clarify the part about administrative costs for the vaccine?  I understand the vaccine is without cost to the person but Sree Chaguturu mentioned administrative costs. Who pays the admin cost in two scenarios:  those with health insurance and those without.

During this time, the Federal government will cover the ingredient cost of the vaccine. However, plan sponsors will be required to cover the administration cost, with most plans required to do so with zero cost-share to their members.

Per the IFC, all non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers need to cover COVID-19 vaccines and administration fees without cost sharing, both in and out of network.

CVS Caremark clients who do not cover vaccines today through their pharmacy benefit may still elect to include COVID-19 vaccine administration under the medical benefit.

In the case of uninsured patients, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) program for uninsured patients will cover the cost of vaccine administration.

For Medicare – CMS has issued guidance that COVID-19 vaccine administration fee(s) will be processed under Part B Medicare by submitting claims to Medicare Fee-for-Service directly. As such, we do not anticipate Medicare clients will cover COVID-19 vaccine administration under their PBM pharmacy benefit, nor utilize the PBM’s adjudication services to process these claims. Plans will have to bill CMS directly.

For managed Medicaid – states are able to set the reimbursement rates. Many have and will continue to follow FFS rates.

For all other lines of business – CVS Caremark is aligned with Medicare’s Fee-for-Service reimbursement rates for vaccine administration by pharmacies, as set forth below:

  • $16.94 to be reimbursed to pharmacies for the first (1st) COVID-19 vaccine dose.
  • $28.39 will be reimbursed to pharmacies for the second (2nd) dose for those COVID-19 vaccines requiring two (2) doses.
  • $28.39 will be reimbursed to pharmacies for COVID-19 vaccines requiring a single dose (1) only

If we wanted to provide on-site vaccination at some point, who at the state level do we need to approach, in terms of getting the vaccine?  I thought I heard Sree Chaguturu state that CVS could be on-site if the employer got some kind of green light from the state.  I think the preference is for us to provide vaccine information (location, etc.) and to have employees go off-site but I’m asking in case this changes.

See above on the onsite clinic info. CVS Health recommends directing clients to the Governor’s Office or the Health Department(s) in states where they have essential employees. Note that it is expected not every state will be allocating vaccine to specific employers.