Coronavirus Vaccine FAQ for Older Adults

senior man receiving a shot

Earlier this month, Governor Newsom announced the state was opening up COVID-19 vaccinations to those age 65 and over, in addition to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

In light of this news, advocates may be getting many questions from older adults they work with about the vaccine. Some may be trying to sign up for a vaccination appointment and encountering barriers. Details are changing quickly and some information may differ depending on the county. This is what we know now:

What vaccines are approved?

As of January 21, 2021, the federal government has granted emergency use authorization of two vaccines, one manufactured by Pfizer and the other by Moderna, to adults 18 years old and older. Several other vaccine candidates are still undergoing clinical testing. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, 21 and 28 days apart respectively.

How much does the vaccine cost? 

These vaccines should be provided at no cost to all, regardless of insurance or immigration status. If the individual has insurance, providers administering the vaccine are allowed to bill a fee to insurance for administering the vaccine, including Medicare and Medi-Cal. If the individual does not have insurance, providers can request reimbursement for administration of the vaccine through the federal government’s provider relief fund. Advocates should advise older adults to be on alert for potential scams, like paying to get a vaccine earlier.

Is the vaccine safe? 

The two vaccines currently being distributed have gone through a rigorous FDA approval process, and California, along with several other states, empaneled a group of scientists to conduct an independent review. The clinical trials included a diverse mix of races and ages, and