COVID-19 Vaccine:

Your Questions Answered

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are currently being distributed right here in our community. The discovery of a vaccine gives us reason to celebrate as it provides a light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic. Do you have questions about the vaccine? You aren’t alone. The Texas Department of State Health Services is your best resource for updates including when and where you can receive your vaccine.

We’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the vaccine below. Remember to always consult with your primary care provider to determine the best decision regarding your own health.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Am I eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

    The state of Texas has developed phases to help those who are at the highest risk receive the vaccine first. We are currently in Phase 1.

    Phase 1: Health care workers, residents of long term care facilities, individuals ages 65 and up, and those ages 16-64 with a chronic medical condition (this includes obesity and pregnancy) can now receive their vaccine.

    UPDATE: Texas teachers and child care workers have been added to Phase 1 and can now get their COVID-19 vaccine. This includes anyone who works in pre-primary, primary and secondary schooling, as well as Head Start or Early Head Start programs. These include teachers, staff, and bus drivers in addition to those who work for licensed child care providers.

    Not sure if you’re eligible? Learn more here.

    If I'm eligible, where can I get the vaccine?

    Text VACCINE to 55000 or (in Spanish) VACUNA to receive text messages notifying you to which locations have available vaccine appointments.

    Vaccines are being distributed to hospitals, local health departments, physician offices, urgent care clinics, pharmacies, and “vaccination hubs” throughout the state of Texas.

    STEP 1: Find a vaccination hub near you by visiting COVID-19 Vaccine Hub Providers. Find other vaccine distributors near you by visiting Texas COVID 19 Vaccine Availability Map.

    STEP 2: Choose a hub and visit their registration website to find out a.) if they have any vaccines available, and b.) how to register to receive the vaccine. Keep in mind that each hub and provider has its own registration website and requirements.

    STEP 3: Once registered, show up at your appointment time and follow instructions from the provider.

    The vaccine is currently in limited supply, so it’s important to be patient. To find out when more vaccines are available, use these helpful tips:

    Current Vaccine Hubs Near Our Members

    The list below includes direct links to the registration websites for the vaccine hubs in our service area. This list is subject to change and Members should refer to COVID-19 Vaccine Hub Providers for a complete and updated list of all vaccine hubs.

    Can I get the vaccine at my pharmacy?

    Retail pharmacies across the country are now receiving new allotments of the COVID-19 vaccine from the government as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. Pharmacies will open new appointment times immediately after receiving the vaccine. Not all pharmacies will be receiving the vaccine. Local pharmacy partners participating in this program include:

    Reminder: As more and more pharmacies and other providers begin to receive the vaccine, please visit DSHS to check vaccine availability near you.

    How much does the vaccine cost?

    The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost.

    How does the vaccine work?

    Currently, the FDA has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by three manufacturers: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. 

    Pfizer and Moderna:

    The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. Essentially, using an mRNA vaccine, we trick our own cells into developing an immune response to COVID-19 which can protect us against a real infection in the future.

    There is NO live, weakened, or active coronavirus in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. You CANNOT get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

    • Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in two doses. You need both doses of the vaccine for it to be fully effective.
    • It’s important to not mix and match vaccines. If you started with Pfizer, your second vaccination should be Pfizer. If you started with Moderna, your second dose should be Moderna.
    • Pfizer is recommended for ages 16 and up. Moderna is recommended for ages 18 and up.
    • Maximum protection will happen a few weeks after your second dose.

    To learn more about how mRNA vaccines – like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine – work, visit CDC: Understanding and Explaining mRNA Vaccines. 

    Johnson & Johnson 

    The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is what’s known as a viral vector vaccine. It uses a harmless cold virus (NOT the coronavirus) to deliver a gene that instructs our cells to make a spike protein found in the coronavirus. This triggers production of antibodies and a resulting immune response, helping protect us against a real infection in the future.

    The virus used in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine poses no threat of causing illness in humans because it has been modified or, in some cases, because the type of virus used cannot cause disease in humans.

    • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single dose.
    • The vaccine is recommended for ages 18 and up. 
    • Maximum protection will happen a few weeks after you receive the vaccine.

    To learn more about how viral vector vaccines – like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – work, visit CDC: Understanding and Explaining Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines.

    What are the possible side effects?

    Side effects reported include soreness at the injection site, fever, chills, headache, or muscle and joint pain. This is similar to reactions some people have to other vaccines, including flu and shingles.

    I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to get the vaccine?

    Metro Health recommends that anyone who has had COVID-19 wait 90 days before receiving the vaccine. Your body will have created antibodies that should fight the disease if you were exposed again within this frame. Those same antibodies might also fight the vaccine.

    If you had COVID-19, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never get it again. The CDC recommends that you should get the vaccine regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 or not.

    What should I do if I contract COVID-19 between the first and second shot?

    If you contract COVID-19 during the waiting period between your first and second shot, you should quarantine/isolate and contact primary care physician. 

    Once are symptom-free and have completed the recommended quarantine period, you can receive the second dose of the vaccine. If the waiting period for your second shot has passed, you should get your vaccine as soon as possible.

    Get the second shot once you’re feeling better. You may still benefit from it and be better protected in the future.

    What do we know about the vaccine's safety?

    Several important steps were taken in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine:

    • Careful testing: The FDA approval process for the COVID-19 vaccine included rigorous standards including a four-phase process of volunteer trials. The FDA ONLY approves a vaccine if it’s safe and effective AND the benefits outweigh the risks.
    • Continuous monitoring: The FDA and CDC continue to monitor any problems or side effects experienced by those receiving the vaccine.

     

    COVID-19 Local Information

    The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has opened a COVID-19 Hotline for residents to ask questions about the virus. The hotline is available in English and Spanish. Residents can call 311 or 210-207-6000 (select option 8 for COVID-19 Hotline) or visit the COVID-19 City of San Antonio webpage for more information including:

    • Testing Locations
    • COVID-19 Risk Level and Case Numbers
    • Current Orders & Declarations

    Transportation:  VIA is offering free transportation to or from an appointment at a City/County-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination site. Visit VIA Metropolitan Transit for more information.

    Have questions on testing and prevention? Check out our COVID-19 testing and prevention page to learn more.

    I got my COVID-19 vaccine! What happens next?

    Priti Mody-Bailey, MD, Community First Health Plans Chief Medical Officer, explains what to expect as more and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

    I got my vaccine! Can I still get sick from COVID-19?

    Yes, but it’s much less likely. Based on evidence from clinical trials, the vaccine was 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness in people who had not been previously infected. If you do get infected, you will likely experience milder symptoms.

    Do I still have to wear my mask and social distance even after I get the vaccine?

    Yes. Texas will need millions of vaccines for all who want one, and the vaccine process takes a month or longer for maximum protection.

    Experts are still learning about the protection the vaccine provides under real-life conditions. Everyone needs to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, including:

    • wearing a mask,
    • practice social distancing,
    • and washing your hands often.
    Now that the vaccine is available, how long will it take for the pandemic to end?

    For the pandemic to end, we need to achieve herd immunity. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result of herd immunity, everyone within the community is protected, even if some people don’t have any protection themselves.

    Experts do not know what percentage of people need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Although the vaccine appears to be very effective, we need to learn more about the protection it offers before stopping other prevention steps we’ve adopted during the pandemic.

    Will I need to get the COVID-19 vaccine every year, like the flu shot?

    We won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccine works. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after the initial infection. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of stopping COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about.

    We Are Here To Help

    We are happy to answer any questions you may have about your Community First Member benefits. Call 800-434-2347, Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm to speak with a representative who can help. 

    If you have questions after hours, call the Community First Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-434-2347 available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help you get the care you need.