There’s a protector in each of us

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and will help us get back to our lives. We all look forward to the time when we can safely be with family and friends again. Protecting the ones you love and the people you know from COVID-19 starts by being protected yourself.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the use of three COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines can reduce the risk of getting the virus by up to 90 percent. Millions have already received their shots, but in order to finally Beat COVID-19, 80 percent of Americans must be vaccinated.

When and where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Everyone in Pennsylvania, age 16 and older, is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

You can check the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s vaccine distribution page to find potential vaccine distribution sites in your area. You can also visit your county’s COVID-19 vaccination website for distribution information:

If you reside outside of Pennsylvania, vaccine availability varies by state. A list of state and territorial health department websites can be found on the CDC website.   

The demand for vaccines is still higher than the supply of doses, so it may be difficult for distribution sites to accommodate everyone who is eligible at any given time.  Please be patient, and trust that everyone is working hard to get you vaccinated as soon as they can.

As with all vaccines, Independence Blue Cross (Independence) has no control over the availability and prioritization of distributing the vaccine. Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines is being controlled by the federal government in collaboration with state and local governments. But whenever you’re able to get vaccinated, your vaccination will be covered.

More information:

Does my Independence health plan cover vaccination?

The Federal government is currently covering the cost of manufacturing the COVID‑19 vaccines. Independence will cover and waive all commercial members' cost-sharing (such as copays, deductibles, and coinsurance) for vaccine administration.

For Medicare Advantage members, the cost of the vaccine and its administration will be covered by Original Medicare so long as the health care provider administering the vaccine participates in the Medicare program.

Visit our COVID-19 FAQs for more detailed information on vaccine coverage.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective?

The FDA authorizes use of a vaccine only after it has determined that the vaccine is safe to use, and provides effective protection against a virus. Clinical trials involving thousands of people must demonstrate that vaccination prevents a large percentage of people from being infected, and that any potential side effects are very rare.

The three vaccines that have received FDA authorization have been proven to be safe* and effective. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which require two doses, are 90–95 percent effective. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 72 percent effective and only requires a single dose. All three vaccines offer a very high level of protection — much higher (for example) than the flu vaccine, which is between 40 and 60 percent effective.

While some people receiving a COVID-19 vaccine experience flu-like symptoms, that doesn’t mean it has infected them. The vaccines contain no actual coronavirus. Instead, the vaccine teaches our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response against the virus.

As with all vaccines, allergic reactions are possible. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past, it’s important to talk to your doctor about possible side effects and whether it is safe for you to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

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Why is vaccination so important?

SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is very easily transmitted, and infection rates in our country are still very high.

Pandemics end only when large percentages of the population have become immune — either because they’ve already recovered from the virus or because they’ve been vaccinated. (This is known as “herd immunity.”) That’s why so many resources worldwide have been put into developing, testing, and manufacturing these vaccines in a short period of time. It’s vital that these vaccines be made available to as many people as quickly as possible.

Some people may not be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or experience its full benefit, based on their bodies’ ability to mount an antibody response — such as those who have compromised immune systems or are undergoing cancer treatment. And those who have a potential risk of allergic reactions should discuss the safety of the vaccine with their doctors.

Yet all of these individuals are also at risk of contracting COVID-19, so it’s even more vital that the people around them get vaccinated.

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Staying safe today

Vaccines may prevent you from getting sick, but no one knows yet whether getting vaccinated will keep you from spreading the virus to others. And, it could be several months until the vaccine is available more broadly. Therefore, it’s very important to continue following the CDC guidelines as carefully and consistently as possible:

  • Always wear a mask outside your home.
  • Stay at least six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live with you.
  • Avoid crowds at all costs.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds at a time, or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Get the flu vaccine.

It’s urgent that we all do our part until we can get vaccinated. And once it’s our turn to receive the vaccine, it’s urgent that we get vaccinated as soon as we can.

More information:

*Recently, the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has been linked to a very rare blood clotting disorder found in six individuals who received the vaccine. Though the risk of this happening is extremely rare — less than one in a million — the CDC and FDA recommend that distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause until there is more information available.

Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should not be concerned. However, it’s good to be aware of the signs of rare and severe side effects, like severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. If you develop these symptoms within three weeks after vaccination, contact your health care provider right away.

Y0041_HM_95671_2021 Website last updated: 4/19/2021

Independence Blue Cross offers Medicare Advantage plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Independence Medicare Advantage plans depends on contract renewal.

Independence Blue Cross offers products through its subsidiaries Independence Hospital Indemnity Plan, Keystone Health Plan East and QCC Insurance Company — independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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