Prior to Receiving the Vaccine
Q: Are there any advisories related to the Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine?
A: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added a warning to the J&J vaccine regarding rare clotting events that have been reported among vaccine recipients. The FDA advisory on the J&J vaccine can be read here: https://www.fda.gov/media/146305/download.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide information on the J&J vaccine here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/janssen.html.
Q: Should women under the age of 50 receive the Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine?
A: Women under the age of 50 can receive any Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized COVID-19 vaccination. However, they should be aware of the rare risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after receiving the J&J vaccine, and the availability of other FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
Q: Do I need to stop taking aspirin or anticoagulants prior to receiving the Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine?
A: No, you do not need to stop taking these medications. However, it is not recommended to take aspirin or anticoagulants prior to receiving the J&J vaccine, or any other Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.
Q. Who can I contact with specific questions about the vaccine?
A: In addition to speaking with Coast Guard health care professionals, you may also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) CDC-INFO site (https://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/ask-cdc.html). The CDC-INFO site allows you to ask questions via web (https://wwwn.cdc.gov/dcs/ContactUs/Form) or phone (800-CDC-INFO [800-232-4636]).
Getting the Vaccine
Q. What should I expect when I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. It is important to understand how your body responds to vaccines. According to the CDC’s article “Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work”, we must first look at how our bodies fight illness. COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. According to the CDC, getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, it can cause severe illness or death.
Q. What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
A. Getting vaccinated will help prevent you from becoming infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. While many people who become ill with the COVID-19 disease have only a mild illness, others may have serious, life-threatening complications, develop a severe illness, or die. There is no way to know how the COVID-19 disease will affect you, your family, colleagues, neighbors, or shipmates. Even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications, 60% of all infections are transmitted to others unwittingly by persons without symptoms. We still do not fully understand the long-term health consequences of the COVID-19 disease.
As with other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccination protects you by creating an antibody response without having to experience the infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide additional information and resources regarding COVID-19 vaccine safety, and how vaccine help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html.
Q. Are military members permitted to obtain the vaccine off-base if the opportunity presents itself?
A: Yes, military members are permitted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine off-base if the opportunity presents itself. We encourage members to obtain the vaccine at their servicing clinic, but they are not required to do so. However, if a member is vaccinated off-base, they will be responsible for informing their servicing medical clinic in order for that to be recorded in the member's medical record.
Q. If military members receive the vaccine off-base, will TRICARE cover the expense of the vaccine and will the VA cover if there are any complications down the road?
A. Yes. All military personnel may voluntarily get vaccinated outside of a Coast Guard clinic, but must meet the timeline prescribed by their Commanders, Commanding Officers, and Officers in Charge.
Personnel shall request and retain the hard copy immunization record from the vaccination clinic site. Those members who get vaccinated outside of a Coast Guard clinic shall provide the following information to their cognizant Coast Guard clinic: (1) date the vaccine was administered, (2) the vaccine name or code, (3) the manufacturer and lot number, (4) the dose administered, and (5) the vaccination site (CVS, Walgreens, etc.) Providing false vaccination information is a violation of Article 107, UCMJ, and may also result in administrative and/or disciplinary action.