COVID-19 Vaccine Information

About the Vaccines

To protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s important to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are now widely available.

What COVID-19 vaccines are currently available?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available for individuals ages 6 months and older.

The Moderna Vaccine/Spikevax COVID-19 Vaccine is available for people 6 months and older.

The FDA has issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine as another primary series for people 12 and older. Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine is protein-based (rather than mRNA). This vaccine technology has been around in vaccines for decades in the U.S.

EUA remains in effect for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Read more about the vaccines

Does the CDC recommend any vaccine over the other?

The CDC’s clinical preference is for individuals to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine over Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The recommendation follows the latest evidence on vaccine effectiveness, vaccine safety and rare adverse events, and consideration of the U.S. vaccine supply.

How much will the vaccine cost?

If you’re a current CareFirst member, you’ll pay $0 for any FDA authorized vaccine.

Were different races and ethnicities included in the vaccine trials?

Yes. For details, see the charts below.

*Percentages add up to more than 100% when study participants self-identify in two categories.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FDA Briefing Document Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine, June 2022. September 2022.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FDA Briefing Document: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, December 2020. September 2022.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FDA Briefing Document Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, December 2020. September 2022.
  4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions. September 13 2022.
Ethnicity Percentage
White 57%
Hispanic / Latinx 26%
Black 10%
Asian 4%
Other racial groups 3%
Ethnicity Percentage
White 63%
Hispanic / Latinx 20%
Black 10%
Asian 4%
Other racial groups <3%
Ethnicity Percentage
White 63%
Hispanic / Latinx 20%
Black 10%
Asian 4%
Other racial groups <3%
Ethnicity Percentage
White 17%
Hispanic / Latinx 45%
Black 19%
Asian 3%
American Indian/Alaska Native 10%
Other racial groups <6%

How should I prepare myself and my body for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Preparing for your COVID-19 vaccination is pretty straightforward. Be sure to get a good night’s rest before your appointment and try to show up as hydrated as possible. Before you go, be sure to discuss any medical concerns with your doctor.

It’s currently recommended that you avoid taking over-the-counter pain medicine before you receive your vaccination, like ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen, unless you take these regularly for other reasons. If needed, you may take over-the-counter pain relievers after your shot. It’s also recommended that you avoid taking antihistamines, like Loratadine and Cetirizine. These may help with seasonal or other allergies, but they won’t prevent any vaccine-related allergic reactions. Find out more about preparing for your COVID-19 vaccination from the CDC.

Can you still catch COVID-19 after being vaccinated?

All authorized COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective, but no vaccine or medical treatment is 100% effective. Plus, the vaccination process takes time. You aren’t fully protected until two weeks after your last vaccine dose, so you must remain vigilant in your protection against COVID-19 (wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distance) while your body is ramping up its immune response.

Another reason you could test positive after vaccination is that COVID-19 has a 2–14-day incubation period. It’s possible that you were infected with COVID-19 before you got your vaccine, but you didn’t experience symptoms until a few days later. Remember, even if the vaccine doesn’t prevent you from catching COVID-19, it will lessen the severity of the infection and significantly reduces the chance of hospitalization.

After I’m fully vaccinated, can I stop wearing a mask?

The answer is not a simple yes or no. CDC updated its recommendations for fully vaccinated people given new evidence on the highly infectious Delta and Omicron variants currently circulating in the United States. They suggest:

  • Wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
  • Wearing a mask if you are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if you have someone in your household who is similarly vulnerable.
  • All teachers, staff, students and school visitors wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.

As before, the new guidelines are subject to federal, state, local, tribal or territorial regulations, including individual business and workplace requirements. And remember, you’re only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your last shot.

Learn more about the CDC guidance.

What should I do if I can’t or don’t want to get vaccinated?

If you can’t get vaccinated, or if you decide against it, it’s important to remain vigilant. To reduce the spread of the disease, and to avoid catching COVID-19, continue to follow existing safety guidance:

  • Wear a mask when you’re around other people who are not vaccinated.
  • Practice social distancing—that’s maintaining at least six feet of distance between you and other non-vaccinated people.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Get a flu shot—flu shots can protect you from other types of serious illness that may require hospitalization. Visit our CareFirst vaccine information page to see where you can get your flu vaccine this season—it’s more important than ever.

Why do the COVID-19 vaccines have to be stored in such cold temperatures?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are what’s known as mRNA vaccines. They contain many enzymes which can easily break the vaccine apart and destroy it in warmer temperatures. The extreme cold slows this process down significantly, which keeps the vaccines stable and “fresh” longer.

Johnson & Johnson is producing a viral vector vaccine, which uses a harmless cold virus to deliver COVID-fighting information to your immune system. Like many other vaccines that use this technology, it can safely be stored with regular refrigeration.

How many COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are currently being developed around the world?

The Milken Institute has developed a site that tracks the development of treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. Within the site, you can explore detailed information on each development.

COVID-19 Treatment and Vaccine Tracker This link will open in a new window.

Which vaccines are approved for booster shots?

All COVID-19 vaccines currently available are approved for booster shots, but the booster guidance depends on age and health status. The most up-to-date booster approvals are on the CDC’s website. People can receive a different brand of vaccine as a booster than they did for their primary series or initial dose.

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster?

Anyone 5 years and older can get a COVID booster. Read more about current CDC recommendations for boosters on the CDC’s site.

I already got a booster. Do I need another one?

CDC recommends that people ages 5 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose. Their last dose could be their final primary series dose, or an original (monovalent) booster. The updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters include components of the original virus strain and the Omicron variant. This is called a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine. If you have questions about whether you should receive a booster, talk with your primary care provider.