COVID-19 vaccines: what to know, what to do.

Now that the vaccines are here and everyone 5 years of age and older is eligible, we’re making it simple for our members to know what to do. Whether you’ve decided to get the shot, still aren’t sure, or want to help someone with doubts, you’ll find everything you need to know that helps you to move forward.

Line Line Not sure about the vaccines?

Not sure about the vaccines?

You’ve still got a lot of questions, and you’ve heard a lot of rumors. Please take a minute to watch this short video that highlights some of the most important vaccine facts you should know.

For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit the CDC website.

Transcript

Not sure about the vaccines?
We’ve all been through a lot, hit with a lot of info
and now that everyone 5 years and older is eligible for the vaccines
we know you still have questions.
Well, we’ve got answers to help you decide.

Yes, the vaccines are safe and effective.

Texas shots given: 40 million (and counting).
Infections and deaths: 0.

No, they weren’t made too quickly. They were tested on 70,000 people, developed and approved by experts. Plus, nearly all doctors are taking the shot.

No, you won’t get COVID from it and it won’t change your DNA.
It simply strengthens your immune system.

Yes, you might have minor side-effects but no problems with food allergies.

Finally: yes, the vaccines are free.

Want to know more? Call the state helpline at 211 or check out our vaccine page right here on this site.

For appointments: getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov

For the latest information on Covid-19 vaccines, visit:
https://dshs.texas.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

This material is for information only. Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations. Not all health sciences are covered. See plan documents for a complete description of benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Providers are independent contractors are not agents of Aetna or Texas Health Aetna. Provider participation may change without notice. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date, however, it is subject to change.

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna). Health benefits and health insurance plans are offered and/or underwritten by Texas Health + Aetna Health Plan Inc. and Texas Health + Aetna Health Insurance Company (Texas Health Aetna). Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products. Texas Health Aetna are affiliates of Texas Health Resources and of Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna). Aetna provides certain management services to Texas Health Aetna. Self-funded plans are administered by Texas Health + Aetna Health Insurance Company. Aetna, CVS Pharmacy® and MinuteClinic, LLC (which either operates or provides certain management support services to MinuteClinic-branded walk-in clinics) and HealthHUB TM locations are part of the CVS Health family of companies.

© 2021 Texas Health + Aetna Health Plan Inc. & Texas Health + Aetna Health Insurance Company

Your vaccine questions answered simply.

Are the vaccines safe?

Yes, the vaccines are safe. Over 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the U.S. through January 18, 2022, including over 40 million in Texas. All three approved versions of the vaccine (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson) have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. Available clinical information has revealed no evidence that the vaccines have contributed to any patient deaths.

Please refer to the CDC for up-to-date safety information about the COVID-19 vaccines.

If I’ve already had COVID-19, do I still need to get the vaccine?

Yes, you do. Although having the virus gives you antibodies and resistance to infection, these do not last long enough. All versions of the vaccine are proven to build up a strong, effective defense in those who receive it.

How were they made so quickly?

There were no shortcuts taken in developing the COVID-19 vaccines. Due to huge advances in research and development in virology and vaccines over the past two decades scientists, doctors and the FDA were able to rally their resources to test, advance, perfect and prove its safety and effectiveness across trials involving over 70,000 people.

What are the most common side-effects?

Some people may experience mild side-effects similar to what you might feel after a flu shot: a little achy and tired, fever, chills, maybe a headache. It’s nothing to worry about — it just shows that the vaccine is working and your body’s immune system is being prompted to act.

If you have any concerns, talk to your physician, text a local doctor on Anytime-MD or through your plan’s telehealth option.

Are the vaccines safe for kids and teens?

Yes. Children are as likely to be infected with COVID-19 as adults, and COVID-19 now ranks as one of the top 10 causes of death for kids ages 5-11 years. Vaccination helps protect children from becoming seriously ill from Covid-19. Everyone five years and older is now eligible to get a free COVID-19 vaccination. The CDC recommends children and teens 5-17 years old receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination. Teens 18 years and older can get Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccinations. If you have an immunocompromised child ages 5-11, a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine may be recommended — speak to your primary care physician for guidance.

Older teenagers (16-19 years old) are eligible to receive the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Are the vaccines safe if I’m pregnant, or trying to get pregnant?

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for women who are pregnant. In addition, everyone who is 18 and older, including those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future, should get a booster shot. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19, and a healthy mom is important for a healthy baby. If you are pregnant, you might want to have a conversation with your healthcare provider about COVID-19 vaccination. While such a conversation might be helpful, it is not required before vaccination. You can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including a booster shot, without any additional documentation from your healthcare provider.

Are the vaccines safe if I have a food allergy?

Yes, it’s perfectly safe to take the vaccines if you have any food allergies; they will not cause a bad reaction or worse side-effects. However, if you’ve had serious reactions to other vaccines in the past that needed emergency treatment or hospitalization, you should consult your doctor about taking the COVID-19 shot.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines?

No. None of the authorized vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. However, you may experience side-effects. This is completely normal—it just means your body’s immune system is working to protect you.

Will the vaccines alter my DNA?

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. There are currently two types of COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for use in the United States: messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and viral vector vaccines. Both teach our natural defenses how to protect against future infection from COVID-19, by creating an immune response and antibodies if the real virus enters our bodies.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which prompt our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine: it uses a modified version of a different, harmless virus (the vector) to signal our cells to start building protection.

Why was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine paused?

Many states, including Texas, paused distribution of the single shot vaccine for further evaluation after 6 people (out of nearly 10 million doses) developed rare but severe blood clotting. While the vaccine is still authorized, the CDC recommends that women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination. The two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines remain available and no such side-effects have been reported.

Will the vaccines protect me from the Delta and Omicron variants?

All of the vaccines available in the U.S. are effective against severe infection, hospitalization and death due to the Delta and Omicron variants. You can reduce your risk of getting and spreading Covid-19 to others by wearing a mask indoors in public places. Masking in crowded places or areas where transmission rates are high is especially important if you or a member of your household has a weakened immune system, an underlying medical condition, or if you live with someone who is unvaccinated.

Can I take just one dose of the two-dose vaccines?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose, while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, 3-4 weeks apart. This is common with many kinds of vaccines: the first dose starts the process of building up protection, the second works to further strengthen your body’s defenses.

Can the vaccines react badly with any medications?

No. The vaccines have not been shown to interact with other medications. However, it’s best to discuss the vaccines and your medications directly with your doctor.

Line Line Ready for the vaccine?

Ready for the vaccine?

You’re finally going to get your shot. Here’s a short video on what to do and what to expect on the day of your appointment, and afterwards.

For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit the CDC website.

Transcript

So you’re ready to get the vaccine!

Now that everyone 5 years and older is eligible, here are a few tips on what to do and what to expect.

Confirm your appointment date and venue, and learn what to bring, at getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov.

(on screen) You are confirmed!

Try to arrive a few minutes early and wear a mask.

Also: wear clothing that makes it easy to expose your arm.

After the shot you’ll wait 15 minutes on-site.

You’ll get a card showing the type of vaccine, plus info about your second shot.

You might have minor side-effects like the flu shot. Don’t worry. They’ll pass.

But if you have any questions or are feeling unwell, text a local doctor on Anytime-MD or your plan’s telehealth option. Call the state help line at 211. For appointments: getthevaccine.dshs.gov

For the latest information on Covid-19 vaccines, visit:
https://dshs.texas.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

This material is for information only. Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations. Not all health sciences are covered. See plan documents for a complete description of benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Providers are independent contractors are not agents of Aetna or Texas Health Aetna. Provider participation may change without notice. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date, however, it is subject to change.

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna). Health benefits and health insurance plans are offered and/or underwritten by Texas Health + Aetna Health Plan Inc. and Texas Health + Aetna Health Insurance Company (Texas Health Aetna). Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products. Texas Health Aetna are affiliates of Texas Health Resources and of Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna). Aetna provides certain management services to Texas Health Aetna. Self-funded plans are administered by Texas Health + Aetna Health Insurance Company. Aetna, CVS Pharmacy® and MinuteClinic, LLC (which either operates or provides certain management support services to MinuteClinic-branded walk-in clinics) and HealthHUB TM locations are part of the CVS Health family of companies.

© 2021 Texas Health + Aetna Health Plan Inc. & Texas Health + Aetna Health Insurance Company

Your vaccine questions answered simply.

How do I get vaccinated?

There are a few ways to get a vaccination appointment.

Which vaccine can my kids get?

Everyone five years and older is now eligible to get a free COVID-19 vaccination. The CDC recommends children and teens 5-17 years old receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination. Teens 18 years and older can get Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccinations. If you have an immunocompromised child ages 5-11, a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine may be recommended — speak to your primary care physician for guidance.

Is it hard to sign up?

No, it’s simple. Now that everyone 16 years of age and older is eligible, the only information you’ll need handy are personal details like name and contact information, plus recent medical history your vaccination site requests.

What if I am homebound, disabled or need help with transportation to get vaccinated?

If you don’t have access to a car or public transportation, Lyft and Uber are offering free rides to any vaccination site. If you are homebound, call 844-90-TEXAS (844-908-3927) and select Option 2 to request a state mobile vaccination team to come to your home. People with disabilities needing assistance with vaccinations can contact the Disability Rights Texas Hotline by phone or email, at 1-800-880-8401 or vaccine@DRTx.org.

What should I take with me?

A form of ID, any appointment confirmation and any completed pre-vaccine form that’s required. You may be also asked for your insurance card and proof of address, depending on the venue. And, yes, you may still be required to wear a mask at your vaccine site.

What if I feel unwell on the day of my appointment?

It’s natural to have a few nerves about getting vaccinated, but if you’re ill or think you have symptoms of the virus, cancel the appointment. If you test positive for COVID-19 within the 14 days before, you won’t be able to get the shot. You’ll have to wait until 14 days after the positive test to receive the vaccine.

What should I expect when I show up for my shot?

It’s a simple process. Arrive no more than a few minutes before your appointment (yes, with a mask on), and the onsite staff will direct, instruct and take care of you. Don’t worry, even though there are a lot of people getting vaccinated, social distancing is in place and the whole operation is generally smooth. If you’re in a car at a drive through facility, follow staff instructions and someone will come to the window to give you the vaccine.

We know it’s a big day, but you don’t need to dress up – remember to wear clothing that makes it easy to expose your arm!

Should I choose a single-dose or a two-dose vaccine?

The best vaccine is the one that’s available and convenient for you to receive.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose – one shot and you’re done. But if you get the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, you’ll be given details of when to return for your second shot.

Is it okay to mix and match vaccine types for my first two doses?

It’s better to stick with one type of vaccine for your primary vaccination series (your first two shots). If you received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you should get the same product when you need a second shot. It’s fine to mix and match COVID-19 vaccines for booster shots for people ages 18 years and older.

Why do they make me wait 15 minutes after the shot?

It’s just to make sure you don’t have any immediate adverse reactions.

What if I have side-effects?

Any side-effects you feel in the next few days simply mean that the vaccine’s working (which it is anyway, even if you have no physical reactions). It’s a sign that your body’s immune system is beginning to build natural defenses that will protect against the virus. If discomfort and side-effects persist or worsen, see your doctor — or use the Anytime-MD app (or your plan’s equivalent telehealth option) to speak to a local physician 24/7 for advice and recommendations.

Once I’m vaccinated can I go back to living normally?

CDC guidelines say we can begin to socialize with other vaccinated people as we used to. If you’re not sure everyone’s had the shot, it’s best to continue to socially distance, wash hands regularly, keep a mask on outside and in places that are not your home.

Should I get a booster shot?

Yes. Anyone 12 years or older who is fully vaccinated should get a booster shot to protect themselves against Covid-19. If you are 12+ years old and received Pfizer-BioNTech for your primary vaccination series, schedule your booster at least five months after your second shot. If you are 18+ years old and received Moderna for your first two shots, get your booster at least six months after your second shot. If you received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, get your Pfizer or Moderna booster at least two months after receiving your single shot.

How can I protect myself from the Delta and Omicron variants?

There are three ways to protect yourself. First, get vaccinated. If you are already vaccinated, see if you qualify for a booster shot, and if so, get boosted. Breakthrough cases can occur among people who are fully vaccinated, but vaccines and boosters are still effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Second, wear a mask in public indoor settings to prevent the spread of the virus. Third, get tested to learn if you have been infected with Covid-19. Check out where to get tested [hyperlink: ] and what to do if you test positive, or are caring with someone who is sick.

Line Line Want to help someone with doubts?

Want to help someone with doubts?

We all know family members and close friends who are still a little suspicious or worried about the vaccines. This short video offers a few tips on how to talk with them and make them feel more confident.

For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit the CDC website.

Transcript

How to talk to someone with vaccine doubts.

5 tips to help a family member or friend.

1. Be open and curious.
Listen, ask, find out what their worries are.

2. Share the science.
Discuss safety and effectiveness more easily by sharing our FAQs.

3. Find common ground.
Share what you both miss and look forward to.

4. Be patient.
It might take more than one talk to make progress.

5. Remove obstacles.
Little things can get in the way of getting the shot. So help get them an appointment or arrange transport.

Just keep supporting and helping them look forward. And we’ll all get there together.

Need more info?

Call the state helpline at 211.
Or check out our vaccine page right here on this site.
For appointments:  Getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov

For the latest information on Covid-19 vaccines, visit:
https://dshs.texas.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

This material is for information only. Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations. Not all health sciences are covered. See plan documents for a complete description of benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Providers are independent contractors are not agents of Aetna or Texas Health Aetna. Provider participation may change without notice. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date, however, it is subject to change.

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna). Health benefits and health insurance plans are offered and/or underwritten by Texas Health + Aetna Health Plan Inc. and Texas Health + Aetna Health Insurance Company (Texas Health Aetna). Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products. Texas Health Aetna are affiliates of Texas Health Resources and of Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna). Aetna provides certain management services to Texas Health Aetna. Self-funded plans are administered by Texas Health + Aetna Health Insurance Company. Aetna, CVS Pharmacy® and MinuteClinic, LLC (which either operates or provides certain management support services to MinuteClinic-branded walk-in clinics) and HealthHUB TM locations are part of the CVS Health family of companies.

© 2021 Texas Health + Aetna Health Plan Inc. & Texas Health + Aetna Health Insurance Company

5 ways to gently get them there.

1. Be open and curious.

Start the conversation by being interested, asking and listening. Understand where their fears, worries and point of view are coming from. Everyone’s story is different, and there may be historical, cultural reasons for their reluctance—as well as being nervous about trying something new, previous vaccine experience, or rumors and myths that they’ve heard. Encourage them to talk, using gentle, empathetic language. It might help to use phrases like:

“I can understand how you might feel that way. Have you thought about it this way…?”

“I see your point, and why that might make you nervous. Is it ok if I share some information that might help?”

2. Share the science.

There’s a lot of misinformation about the vaccines out there. You can help someone understand the facts without a lot of clinical jargon by referring to our FAQs. So please read and use them: they’re the simplest ways to introduce the facts into a discussion and show how safe and effective the vaccine is. Also, encourage your relative or friend to ask their doctor or another trusted healthcare professional any questions they have, rather than be swayed by web searches and social media.
> Go to FAQs

3. Find common ground.

Share your own story and why you’re excited about the vaccines. The emotional reasons for the vaccine are as powerful as the scientific ones: talk about what you look forward to doing again and invite them to do the same. Be honest about why you want them to get vaccinated — not just that you care but remind them that it’s a sign of hope for everyone, of getting our neighborhoods and our world back to normal. Appeal to their sense of the greater good, how it’s part of looking after each other, of what makes our communities, our state and our country special.

4. Be patient.

It’ll probably take more than one talk to make progress. We’ve all been through so much over the last 18 months: habits and minds don’t change overnight, and people heal at their own pace. This will be an ongoing conversation: try not to get frustrated but meet them where they are. And keep talking and listening and encouraging.

5. Remove obstacles.

Once you feel you’re getting somewhere together and they’re thinking positively about the shot, don’t let the smallest detail or roadbump discourage them.  Offer to help set up a vaccination appointment or arrange for transportation. Use our FAQs to explain how simple the day will be and how to prepare for it. Smoothing their path and providing constant support can make all the difference.

Line Line Getting the shot.

Getting the shot.

Help a friend or family member make an appointment or find a convenient vaccination site.

Close

Created for Texas Health Aetna members, this COVID-19 vaccine information is available to all Texans – but please check your health plan for your specific benefits.

For more details, refer to the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services.