What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

Protecting the ones you love and the people you know from COVID-19 starts by being protected yourself. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, and slow spread of the virus. COVID-19 booster shots are an additional dose of the vaccine since the protection provided by the original shot(s) begins to decrease over time. Vaccines are reviewed, approved and authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot?

The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older and boosters for everyone 5 years and older. The FDA has authorized, and the CDC has recommended, vaccines and booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson Janssen for adults. Children 6 months and older get an age-appropriate dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Need help finding a vaccination site? Complete a Vaccine Interest Form and we will reach out to you based on where you live and the opportunities we have in your area.

New Jersey residents can also check New Jersey’s vaccination page for more information on vaccine availability.

Do I need a booster shot?

The CDC recommends anyone age 5 years or older receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster. If you received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, you are eligible for a booster shot five months or more after the initial shots. If you received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, a booster shot is recommended two months or more after initial shot.

Does my AmeriHealth NJ health plan cover the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot?

AmeriHealth New Jersey covers the cost of administering vaccines and booster shots with no cost-share (such as co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance) for members regardless of where the vaccine is given.

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

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective?

The FDA grants a vaccine an EUA 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 and boosters that have received FDA authorization — Moderna-BioNTech, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson Janssen — have been proven to be safe* and effective at preventing infection, hospitalization, and death. The Pfizer vaccine is fully FDA-approved.

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?

Variants of COVID-19 may be more contagious and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus. Infection rates are still very high. Getting vaccinated is our greatest tool in preventing serious infections.

Getting vaccinated benefits you as an individual because you are then less likely to get and transmit the disease, get severely ill and be hospitalized, or to die from COVID-19. Being vaccinated also protects your community because your family, friends, colleagues, and other community members are less likely to contract COVID-19 and fall ill.

Some people may not be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, or to 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 do get vaccinated.

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Staying safe today

It’s very important to continue following the CDC guidelines as carefully and consistently as possible:

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
  • 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.

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.

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AmeriHealth New Jersey

New Jersey Department of Health