Feb. 19, 2021 —
Q. What are the most important things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. Now that there are recommended and authorized vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States, here are eight things you need to know about the CDC's new COVID-19 Vaccination Program and COVID-19 vaccines.
- The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority.
- COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. Two doses are needed.
- CDC is making recommendations for who should be offered COVID-19 vaccine first when supplies are limited.
- There are currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, but supply will increase in the weeks and months to come.
- After COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection.
- Cost is not an obstacle to getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The first COVID-19 vaccine is being used under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many other vaccines are still being developed and tested.
- COVID-19 vaccines are one of many important tools to help us stop this pandemic.
To read more about these eight topics, please read the CDC article “8 Things to Know about the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program”.
Q. What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
A. We understand that some people may be concerned about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine now that COVID-19 vaccines are available in the United States. According to the CDC, more COVID-19 vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, and routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. Safety is a top priority, and there are many reasons to get vaccinated. To read more about the benefits of being vaccinated, please read this CDC article.
Q. Where can individuals go for more information about the vaccine they will be administered?
A. Please visit the CDC’s webpage, Different COVID-19 Vaccines (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html), to learn more about the various vaccines in Phase 3 Clinical trials. You can also learn more about U.S. COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, including vaccines in earlier stages of development, by visiting clinicaltrials.gov.
Q. What agency is responsible for the overall plan?
A. The Coast Guard is participating in the Department of Defense (DoD) COVID-19 Vaccine distribution operation. Agencies included in this partnership include, among others, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Coast Guard. On 22 January 2021, the President issued a National Strategy for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf.
Q. Under what circumstances could the vaccine become mandatory?
A. There are three different methods that could trigger a mandatory vaccine requirement:
- If an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is issued or amended so that it no longer contains the option to refuse vaccination;
- If the President of the United States grants a waiver, finding voluntary vaccination is not in the interest of national security, and makes vaccination mandatory for members of the armed forces; or
- Once the vaccine receives full licensure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the armed forces may require vaccination to improve force health protection. In this situation, the Coast Guard may require a COVID-19 vaccine for all military and civilian personnel, or personnel in specific fields, as is the case for the annual influenza vaccine.
Currently, all available vaccines are voluntary. All populations for which the vaccine is authorized are highly encouraged to take the vaccine, but service members may not currently be compelled to receive the vaccine.