Who can get vaccinated now?
- Adults age 65-plus (Phase 1b)
- Residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; health care workers (Phase 1a)
- First responders, education and childcare staff, certain essential workers (Phase 1b)
Where can I get vaccinated?
- State vaccine providers are listed by county on the state’s vaccine provider map. If you’re eligible to receive a vaccine, select your county and the map will detail the location(s), phone number and/or website to register for a shot.
- A federally backed online tool called Vaccine Finder lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments.
- Community pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program are administering additional vaccines and scheduling appointments online. In Iowa they currently include: CPESN Community Pharmacies, Hy-Vee, Walgreens and CVS (locations here).
- The state’s vaccine information page, county health agencies and 2-1-1 can provide additional information and assistance.
- Vaccine supplies are limited everywhere and available only to those now eligible under each state’s phased plan. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be very hard to get, as available time slots are booked quickly, and you may experience long wait times on the phone. If a time slot is not available, you may be put on the site’s waiting list. Some people are signing up at multiple sites to increase chances of getting an appointment. Once you have a confirmed appointment, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule or confirm another with any other provider so that vaccine appointments stay open for others.
AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?
Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.
If you are eligible due to an underlying medical condition or comorbidity, you may need a note from your doctor or some other form of proof. If you are eligible on the basis of your work, bring proof of employment such as a pay stub, badge or letter from your employer.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment.
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I’ve heard that some vaccines require a second shot?
The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider stating when and where to return for the second dose.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot.
It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot.
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Do I have to pay for the vaccination?
You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health all organizations and providers participating in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program:
- must administer COVID-19 Vaccine at no out-of-pocket cost to the recipient
- may not deny anyone vaccination based on the vaccine recipient’s coverage status or network status
- may not charge an office visit or other fee if COVID-19 vaccination is the sole medical service provided
- may not require additional medical services to receive COVID-19 vaccination
- may seek appropriate reimbursement from a program or plan that covers COVID-19 Vaccine administration fees for the vaccine recipient, such as:
- may not seek any reimbursement, including through balance billing, from the vaccine recipient
- vaccine recipient’s private insurance company
- Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement
- HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program for non-insured vaccine recipients
For additional information on filing claims for reimbursement of COVID-19 vaccine administration fees, go to:
- HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program – https://www.hrsa.gov/CovidUninsuredClaimexternal icon
- CMS Guidance – https://www.cms.gov/covidvax-providerexternal icon
Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?
Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection the vaccines provide under “real-world conditions,” the CDC says. It could take your body a few weeks to build up immunity after the second dose.
The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC says it could take months for the population to build up immunity and continues to recommend preventive measures such as face masks and social distancing.
In addition, it’s not yet clear how effective the vaccines are against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus initially identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere, although they would still provide some protection.
How will residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get vaccinated?
Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities are being vaccinated through a federal program that has contracted with CVS, Walgreens and Community Pharmacy to administer the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines at three free on-site clinics at the facilities. Iowa is taking part in the program.
Almost all nursing homes, which were given first priority, have completed their first and second clinics, and most have also finished their final clinics, according to data from CVS and Walgreens. Many assisted living and other long-term care facilities are also taking part in the program. Almost all of them have completed their first clinics, and most have completed their second. All the vaccination clinics are slated to be complete by late March.
Who will be eligible to get vaccinated next?
Iowa has not outlined yet who will be eligible for a vaccine beyond Phase 1b.
AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting one of the COVID-19 vaccines because the science shows that older people are at higher risk of death from the coronavirus.
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WATCH: AARP’s CEO on Fighting for Your COVID-19 Vaccination
This guide was published on Jan. 19 and updated on Feb. 27 with new information on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
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