Covid-19 Vaccines

Answers to Your Vaccine Questions

Currently more than 150 million people — almost half the population — are eligible to be vaccinated. But each state makes the final decision about who goes first. The nation’s 21 million health care workers and three million residents of long-term care facilities were the first to qualify. In mid-January, federal officials urged all states to open up eligibility to everyone 65 and older and to adults of any age with medical conditions that put them at high risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19. Adults in the general population are at the back of the line. If federal and state health officials can clear up bottlenecks in vaccine distribution, everyone 16 and older will become eligible as early as this spring or early summer. The vaccine hasn’t been approved in children, although studies are underway. It may be months before a vaccine is available for anyone under the age of 16. Go to your state health website for up-to-date information on vaccination policies in your area

You should not have to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine, although you will be asked for insurance information. If you don’t have insurance, you should still be given the vaccine at no charge. Congress passed legislation this spring that bars insurers from applying any cost sharing, such as a co-payment or deductible. It layered on additional protections barring pharmacies, doctors and hospitals from billing patients, including those who are uninsured. Even so, health experts do worry that patients might stumble into loopholes that leave them vulnerable to surprise bills. This could happen to those who are charged a doctor visit fee along with their vaccine, or Americans who have certain types of health coverage that do not fall under the new rules. If you get your vaccine from a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic, talk to them about potential hidden charges. To be sure you won’t get a surprise bill, the best bet is to get your vaccine at a health department vaccination site or a local pharmacy once the shots become more widely available.

Probably not. The answer depends on a number of factors, including the supply in your area at the time you’re vaccinated. Check your state health department website for more information about the vaccines available in your state. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the only two vaccines currently approved, although a third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is on the way.

That is to be determined. It’s possible that Covid-19 vaccinations will become an annual event, just like the flu shot. Or it may be that the benefits of the vaccine last longer than a year. We have to wait to see how durable the protection from the vaccines is. To determine this, researchers are going to be tracking vaccinated people to look for “breakthrough cases” — those people who get sick with Covid-19 despite vaccination. That is a sign of weakening protection and will give researchers clues about how long the vaccine lasts. They will also be monitoring levels of antibodies and T cells in the blood of vaccinated people to determine whether and when a booster shot might be needed. It’s conceivable that people may need boosters every few months, once a year or only every few years. It’s just a matter of waiting for the data.

Employers do have the right to compel their workers to be vaccinated once a vaccine is formally approved. Many hospital systems, for example, require annual flu shots. But employees can seek exemptions based on medical reasons or religious beliefs. In such cases, employers are supposed to provide a “reasonable accommodation” — with a coronavirus vaccine, for example, a worker might be allowed to work if they wear a mask, or to work from home.

If you have other questions about the coronavirus vaccine, please read our full F.A.Q.

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Highlights

  1. Photo
    CreditNiklas Halle'n/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    What You Can Do Post-Vaccine, and When

    Particularly in the early months of vaccination, many activities should wait, experts say — and plan to keep your masks.

    By Claire Cain MillerMargot Sanger-Katz and

  2. PhotoScientists worry that if vaccinated people are silent spreaders of the virus, they may keep it circulating in their communities, putting unvaccinated people at risk.
    CreditMax Whittaker for The New York Times

    Here’s Why Vaccinated People Still Need to Wear a Mask

    The new vaccines will probably prevent you from getting sick with Covid. No one knows yet whether they will keep you from spreading the virus to others — but that information is coming.

    By

    1. PhotoDr. Anthony S. Fauci in March. “We really don’t know what the real number is,” he said recently.
      CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

      How Much Herd Immunity Is Enough?

      Scientists initially estimated that 60 to 70 percent of the population needed to acquire resistance to the coronavirus to banish it. Now Dr. Anthony Fauci and others are quietly shifting that number upward.

      By

Britain's Rollout

  1. PhotoVaccinations underway in Cardiff, Wales, in December. No other large nation is inoculating people as quickly as Britain.
    CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times
  2. Photo British regulators approved a plan to deliberately infect unvaccinated volunteers as part of a study to develop ways of directly comparing the efficacy of treatments and vaccines.
    CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times
  3. PhotoTravelers at Heathrow airport in London last month.
    CreditHollie Adams/Getty Images
  4. PhotoDon’t put a photo of a card like this on social media, experts warn. It might make you vulnerable to identity theft or scams.
    CreditLindsey Wasson/Reuters
  5. PhotoAdministering the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in Basingstoke, England, on Thursday.
    CreditPool photo by Andrew Matthews

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

  1. PhotoPresident Joseph R. Biden Jr. after touring the Pfizer manufacturing site in Kalamazoo, Mich.
    CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
  2. PhotoA dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was drawn into a syringe at the Community Center in Rohnert Park, Calif.
    CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times
  3. PhotoA nurse supervisor prepared a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Hartford, Conn., this month.
    CreditChristopher Capozziello for The New York Times
  4. PhotoSusan Elsamna, a first-grade teacher in Edison, N.J., showing students in November how to stand with safe social distancing.
    Credit
  5. PhotoA shipment of vaccine arriving to a medical center in Montreal in December. To date, only about 1.5 million people have been injected.
    CreditAndrej Ivanov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Moderna Vaccine

  1. PhotoAt the Andrew Jackson Community Center at the Jackson Houses senior citizens await their vaccines Moderna vaccines were given mostly to senior citizens on Feb. 16, 2021. Program by The Bronx Rising, a community organization, arranged the vaccinations in collaboration. with the Morris Heights Health Center.
    CreditJames Estrin/The New York Times
  2. PhotoIn Houston, Isabelle King, 14, got her second shot from Jallesse Flores during a Moderna vaccine trial this month, as her twin sister,  Alexandra, looked on.
    CreditBrandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times
  3. PhotoThe author’s children, Wes and Zoe, are volunteering for the ongoing Moderna vaccine trial.
    CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times
  4. PhotoCovid-19 vaccines at a wholesale distribution site in Nicaragua. Prosecutors said three Baltimore men created a website that resembled Moderna’s in a fraudulent effort to sell vaccines.
    CreditJorge Guerrero/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  5. PhotoPreparing a dose of the Moderna vaccine this month at a community center in the Bronx.
    CreditJames Estrin/The New York Times