Select vaccine related FAQs from the dropdown.
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.
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:
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.
Q. What are the different types of COVID-19 vaccines?
A. As COVID-19 vaccines are authorized and then recommended for use in the United States, it will be important to understand what is known about each vaccine. The CDC provides information on who is and is not recommended to receive each vaccine and what to expect after vaccination, as well as ingredients, safety, and effectiveness. To read more from the CDC about the different COVID-19 Vaccines, please read this CDC article.
Currently, two vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:
Q. How was the COVID-19 Vaccine developed so rapidly, in record time?
A. Due to the urgency and critical need to produce the vaccine and provide it to the public safely and quickly, our country expended every resource and made development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines a top priority. Authorization to use the vaccine came quickly because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accelerated the vaccines to the front line at every step. No compromises on safety or effectiveness were made during their development.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developing a vaccine and bringing it to market often takes many years. But because of work that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was already doing when the COVID-19 pandemic began, researchers were able to come up with vaccines for this new virus much more quickly. You can read more about the COVID-19 vaccine development effort here: COVID-19 Vaccine Development: Behind the Scenes.
Q. What is an Emergency Use Authorization?
A. Drugs and vaccines have to be licensed or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that only safe and effective products are available to the American public. In situations when there is strong scientific evidence that a product is safe and is likely to treat or prevent disease, the FDA may authorize its emergency use under specific circumstances.
This type of FDA pre-licensure approval is considered for treatment or prevention of diseases that are very serious and occurring during an outbreak or pandemic scenario. For the COVID-19 vaccines, the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) indicates that the FDA has found the vaccine to be safe, however, studies regarding the full duration of protection against disease will continue.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers choose whether to make a request for EUA or routine licensure based upon the circumstances. The processes used to evaluate the current COVID-19 vaccines for their safety and effectiveness were no less rigorous than if the manufacturers had requested an adjudication for a licensed vaccine. EUAs are permitted only during emergent circumstances.
Q. How is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) different from full approval?
A. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) announcement, the issuance of an EUA is different than an FDA approval (licensure) of a vaccine. The FDA is able to grant a special type of interim approval called an EUA during public health emergencies. Just like full approval/licensure, an EUA looks at the totality of data and does a risk-benefit analysis. The FDA does a rigorous safety analysis and then looks at the how effectively the vaccine is at preventing disease in the context of a pandemic, when the disease is widespread and many people are routinely being infected.
If issued an EUA, vaccine manufacturers are obligated under FDA rules to continue their clinical trial monitoring and gather more data to fully understand how long the vaccine protection will last. Additionally, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collect reports from those who receive the vaccines to develop the best understanding of common side-effects.
Q. What has been done to ensure the vaccine(s) being distributed is safe?
A. The U.S. expended every available resource to make development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines a top priority due to the urgency and critical need to produce the vaccine and provide it to the public safely and quickly. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was able to authorize the use of the vaccine under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) because they accelerated the vaccines to the front line at every step of the approval process. No compromises on safety or effectiveness were made during vaccine development.
For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being administered by the Coast Guard, the vaccine manufacturers completed all of the required phases and trials. During the standard Phase 1 through Phase 3 trials, researchers evaluated vaccine safety and effectiveness on increasingly larger populations, monitored any side effects, assessed potential risks, and compared vaccines to alternative treatments. The results of the Phase 1 through Phase 3 trials were then submitted to the FDA for review before they were authorized for use and distribution. We are currently in Phase 4, which occurs after the FDA has granted a license or an EUA for a vaccine (or any new drug) because they are deemed safe, effective, and the benefits outweigh any risks. Researchers continue to collect data on the vaccines long-term benefits and side effects. By January 27, 2021, over 26 million doses have been received by persons in the U.S. Over 320,000 of those have been provided to Department of Defense/TRICARE beneficiaries.
Based on briefings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes for Health (NIH), Defense Health Agency (DHA) and our Coast Guard medical experts, the Coast Guard is confident in the safety and the effectiveness of these vaccines.
Additional information regarding vaccine safety and development, to include standard steps for the development of vaccines and therapeutics, can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html.
Q: Will a COVID-19 vaccination affect COVID-19 test results?
A. No, COVID-19 vaccination will not affect the results of viral tests (polymerase chain reaction [PCR] or antigen). Vaccination may affect an antibody test; a positive COVID-19 antibody test could indicate vaccination OR previous infection.
Q. Should healthcare personnel who have been vaccinated be tested for COVID-19 if they develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19?
A. It depends. The COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose series and high efficacy (or protection) is expected 10-14 days after the second dose. Thus, a member could potentially become infected with COVID-19 before, during or after the vaccination series and display symptoms in the post vaccination period. Providers should consider the following when making testing decisions:
Q. How is the CDC ensuring the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States?
A. According to the CDC, the U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to make this and other COVID-19 vaccines available. For more information about safety measures, clinical trials, and monitoring systems, please read this CDC article.
Q. Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
A. No, it is not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. Vaccines against COVID-19 use inactivated virus, parts of the virus, or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.
Q. Should I get the vaccine for influenza (flu shot)?
A. Yes, it is important to get the influenza vaccine, particularly this season when both influenza viruses and COVID-19 will infect people. However, the Coast Guard has prioritized administration of the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the influenza vaccine.
Q. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine after receiving another vaccine?
A. Yes, as provided it has been 14 days since the last vaccination. Those receiving the COVID vaccine must wait 14 days after completing the COVID vaccine series before other immunizations are given. Please consult your primary care physician or health care professional if you have specific questions about your circumstances.
Q: Do members need to be tested for COVID-19 prior to getting the vaccine?
A. No. It is not recommended to test a member solely for the purpose of vaccine decision making.
Q. Which vaccine will the Coast Guard be issuing?
A. The Coast Guard expects to issue multiple vaccines that are authorized for use by the FDA as part of the DoD plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Q. Who will administer the vaccine?
A. Coast Guard medical staff will receive training on storage, handling, and administration of each vaccine.
Q. If I already had COVID-19, should I still get a vaccine?
A. Yes. Because the duration of immunity following COVID-19 disease can vary based upon the extent of exposure to the virus, eligible Coast Guard members are strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine is a safe and effective means for battling the disease, while at the same time keeping our families, friends, and communities safe and healthy.
Q. Which vaccines is the Coast Guard issuing?
A. Currently, the Coast Guard is issuing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which have received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Coast Guard expects to issue multiple vaccines that are authorized for use by the FDA as part of the Department of Defense plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
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]).
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. Will vaccines be available at Coast Guard medical clinics? When will they be available?
A. Yes. The Coast Guard is implementing a phased delivery of COVID-19 vaccine following FDA Emergency Use Authorization under the Coast Guard plan, which is part of the Department of Defense (DoD) plan. The initial vaccination sites were selected by DoD based on the capacity to receive ultra-cold vaccines, population, participation of each military service (including the Coast Guard), and availability of an Immunization Healthcare Specialist. Vaccination distribution prioritization follows the DoD prioritization and the national prioritization set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Q. Where will the Coast Guard doses be distributed?
A. Initial distribution sites were selected by the Department of Defense (DoD) COVID Task Force from sites recommended by the military services and U.S. Coast Guard.
Q. Who will receive the vaccine once it becomes available and when?
A. Our goal is that every member of the Coast Guard (active, reserve, civilian, auxiliary), our family members, and retirees, will be able to receive a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine through one of several methods. The Coast Guard will use a phased approach to allocate the initial limited quantities of the vaccine under the Department of Defense (DoD) plan for active duty and reserve military members. The Coast Guard will offer to vaccinate civilian employees as the vaccine becomes available. DoD’s prioritization is aligned to the national prioritization directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Q. Why is the vaccine not available in my area?
A. In the initial phase, a limited number of sites were selected to receive vaccine(s) at first to ensure successful vaccine administration. When we shift to the next phase under the DoD plan as more vaccine becomes available, distribution will expand to more Coast Guard locations to be able to reach across the force. The Coast Guard will follow DoD prioritization for distributing the vaccine across the United States.
Q. Will the Coast Guard require all service members to receive the vaccine?
A. Currently, the vaccine is offered on a voluntary basis. Priority populations are highly encouraged to receive the vaccine. When formally licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a vaccine may become mandatory for military personnel, as is the case for the influenza vaccine.
Alternately, if the White House issues an order mandating vaccination for members of the armed forces, the vaccine may become required as a matter of policy.
Q. Why should I get the 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. How will I know when I am eligible to get the vaccine?
A. Your unit will be notified when portions or all of your unit are eligible to get the vaccine.
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, Tricare will cover any costs associated with the COVID-19 vaccine if obtained on the outside. If you are charged for the vaccine, you should keep your receipt and file a claim with TRICARE. If you experience any long-term issues from receiving an authorized vaccine, whether you obtained the vaccine from a Coast Guard clinic or from a civilian health care provider, the VA will cover for any long-term disability issues caused by the vaccine.
Q: When will COVID vaccines be administered to Coast Guard recruits?
A: The Coast Guard will vaccinate recruits at Training Center Cape May who desire to be vaccinated as soon as vaccine is available. Eligible Coast Guard members, to include recruits, are strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for their health and the health of others.
Q: How long will protection last following vaccination?
A. We do not know how long protection will last following vaccination but it will be critically important to measure long-term protection in the phase 3 trials and in other groups prioritized for early vaccination. We are still learning about the duration of protection following infection with COVID-19 and it is too early to tell how long protection will last.
Q. Can a vaccinated person still transmit the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease?
A. Currently there is insufficient data on whether the approved Pfizer or Moderna vaccines prevent or reduce the risk of transmission of the SARS-COV-2 virus, even as the vaccine is protecting the vaccinated person from becoming sick with the COVID-19 disease. Both vaccines work to protect individuals from disease symptoms, but it is unknown at this time whether vaccinated people can still transmit the virus as an asymptomatic infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend continuing to practice public health protective measures like washing your hands, wearing a mask, physical distancing, and frequently cleaning common areas.
Q. Will I still need to wear masks and practice physical distancing once a vaccine is available?
A. Yes. Both vaccines work to protect individuals from COVID-19 disease symptoms, but it is unknown at this time whether vaccinated people will still be able to transmit the virus as an asymptomatic infection. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to continue to practice public health protective measures like washing your hands, wearing a mask and frequently cleaning common areas.
In accordance with the 21 January 2021 Executive Order on “Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing,” executive departments and agencies, including the Coast Guard, must ensure compliance with CDC guidelines with respect to wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and other public health measures. This direction applies to on-duty or on-site Federal employees, on-site Federal contractors, and all persons in Federal buildings or on Federal lands.
Q: Can I still get sick with the COVID-19 disease once I have been vaccinated?
A: Yes, even though the vaccine is highly effective (has a high efficacy), it’s still possible for a vaccinated person to become ill. The protection provided by the vaccine is not immediate after receiving the second dose. Current information indicates it takes time for a person’s immune system to fully respond to the vaccine and produce antibodies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), evidence from clinical trials indicates that the Pfizer vaccine reaches full potential, 95% efficacy, at least 7 days after the second dose. At the 95% effective rate, approximately 5% of those who receive both doses of the vaccine may still get the COVID-19 disease. Clinical trial data for the Moderna vaccine indicate that it reaches full potential, approximately 94% efficacy, at least 14 days after the second dose.
You can read more from the CDC about the different COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html.
Q. Will the Coast Guard vaccinate civilian employees?
A. Yes, all Coast Guard civilian employees, including Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) employees will have an opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. These vaccines will be administered at your local Coast Guard clinic as the vaccine becomes available. The Coast Guard planned for its service allocation from DoD to include all Coast Guard civilian employees (including NAF employees), and we are ready to enter required information on the vaccine into authoritative DoD and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention databases for any civilian employee who volunteers to be vaccinated by the Coast Guard.
Q. As a civilian employee, if I receive the vaccine in a Coast Guard clinic, how will that vaccination be tracked and what next steps should I take?
A. As a civilian employee, if you decide to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in a Coast Guard clinic, you will be responsible for reporting this to your civilian health care provider so they can include the vaccine in your health care record.
Q. As a civilian employee, if I decline to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in a Coast Guard clinic, can I still choose to receive it?
A. Coast Guard civilian employees who decide not to be vaccinated by the Coast Guard may choose to receive the vaccine through their health care providers when the vaccine becomes available.
Q. Will the Coast Guard distribute the vaccine to the American public too?
A. The President has released a National Strategy for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness which includes direction for Federal government support to states and territories regarding national vaccine administration. The Coast Guard continues to vaccinate within the Service and stands ready to support national vaccination efforts as needed.
Q. Will the Coast Guard administer the vaccine to members/employees in the Department of Defense or other federal agencies?
A. Using the DoD approved prioritization schema and distribution plan, the Coast Guard is using a phased approach to allocate the initial limited quantities of the vaccine to active duty and reserve Coast Guard members. The Coast Guard will offer to vaccinate civilian employees as the vaccine becomes available. As additional quantities of vaccine are received, the Coast Guard will reevaluate its ability to vaccinate additional populations, in accordance with the approved DoD prioritization schema.
Q. Will reserve military members get the vaccine?
A. Once a vaccine is available, reserve members should anticipate receiving it the same way they would receive any other vaccine – either by Coast Guard healthcare professionals, or if they are not located near a Coast Guard medical facility, from their primary care provider.
Q. Should children get the vaccine?
A. The current vaccine(s) trials have not studied the safety and efficacy for children less than 16 years old and manufactures are not currently asking the FDA for authorization to vaccinate children of this age group.
Q. Is the vaccine safe for pregnant or lactating women and do we know what the long term effects are for pregnancy, breast feeding, and overall fertility issues?
A. The clinical trials for the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines did not enroll or study pregnant or lactating women. More data on these groups will be forthcoming. We do know that these vaccines are not live virus vaccines, and the fragment of genetic information the vaccine uses does not interact with human DNA. The two leading medical societies for obstetricians – the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine – put out strong statements saying the COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to pregnant and lactating women. These medical experts highlight the COVID-19 disease risk to the mother and fetus if there is a severe case of infection. Additionally, a recent study highlighted the significant increased risk of hospitalization, death, and poor fetal outcomes for pregnant women diagnosed with COVID-19.
The decision for a pregnant or lactating woman to get vaccinated should be made with medical consultation, and should weigh any unknowns of the vaccine with the risk of living through a pandemic and potentially getting a severe COVID-19 infection. You can find additional information at the following links:
Q. Will TRICARE beneficiaries, including military retirees, have access to the vaccine?
A. Yes. TRICARE beneficiaries empaneled at a DoD Military Treatment Facility (MTF) are eligible to receive the vaccine at a DoD MTF. TRICARE beneficiaries who receive care at DoD MTFs on a space-available basis can alternately receive vaccine through the local civilian medical providers. Coast Guard clinics will not be directly vaccinating dependents, so Coast Guard dependents have the options of getting vaccinated through their TRICARE physician, civilian pharmacy, or DoD MTF.
Q. Will retired Coast Guard beneficiaries have access to the vaccine?
A. Once a vaccine is available, retirees should anticipate receiving it the same way they would receive any other vaccine – either through a Veterans Health Administration location, a DoD Military Treatment Facility (MTF), or from their primary care provider.
Q. If a Coast Guard military member chooses to receive the COVID-19 vaccine while it is under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and suffers lasting side effects, will the Veterans Administration (VA) cover any long-term issues caused by the EUA vaccine?A. Yes. If a member chooses to receive a Coast Guard-administered vaccine and suffers lasting side effects, long term issues would be covered by the Veterans Administration (VA), similar to how the VA has treated side effects from military-issued vaccines in the past.
Q. If a Coast Guard military member has lasting side effects from a Coast Guard-administered vaccine given under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), would the injury be considered as having happened in the line of duty?A. Yes. Any injury or illness incurred as a result of receiving a military-issued COVID vaccine would be considered in the line of duty. Any command with a member who suffers an adverse effect from the vaccine should consult with their servicing legal office regarding documenting a Line of Duty determination.
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