What You Should Know About the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine

Protect your health with a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are an important step in protecting your health and your loved ones, and we encourage you to talk to your doctor about the right time to get your vaccine. We are committed to providing helpful vaccine information and resources to support you, including $0 cost-share on COVID-19 vaccinations through the national public health emergency period.

Schedule your vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are widely available across vaccination providers, including retail pharmacies, doctors’ offices and other health systems.

Vaccine protection and safety

COVID-19 vaccines are important for protecting your health and helping you return to safely spending time with friends and family.

$0 vaccine cost-share

You should not receive a bill for your COVID-19 vaccination through the national public health emergency1.

After you get vaccinated

Get the latest on life after you get your vaccine, from how to manage potential side effects to when to wear a mask. 

Answering your questions

To help you plan and keep you informed, we’ve gathered key public information about COVID-19 vaccines below. The CDC remains the best resource on COVID-19 vaccines. You can also explore our learning course to get more vaccine information.

Protection and safety

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized 3 COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use authorization (EUA). These vaccines are safe2 and were developed to help protect people from COVID-19. There is 1 one-dose vaccine and 2 two-dose vaccines. Like other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines can take several weeks after the second dose to provide protection. 

FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines3

Vaccine manufacturer

Doses

Ages for EAU

FDA Fact Sheets

Pfizer-BioNTech

2 doses, 21 days apart

12 and older

Pfizer for patients and caregivers

Moderna

2-doses, 1 month apart

18 and older

Moderna for patients and caregivers

Jphnson & Johnson's Janssen 

1 dose

18 and older

Janssen for patients and caregivers

Like the flu vaccine, vaccination providers will administer the COVID-19 vaccine based on availability. Vaccination providers may not have all FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines at their location.

Important reminders on the protection COVID-19 vaccines provide:

  • While COVID-19 vaccines may help protect the individual from the virus, it is not yet known if vaccinated people can still give the COVID-19 virus to others.
  • The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown.

Because of this, keep following public health safety guidelines to help protect yourself and others. For the latest information, go to the CDC.

Is Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine safe?

The use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has resumed. Medical and scientific teams with the FDA and CDC did a thorough review that found this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19. The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets for health care providers and patients have been updated to include information about this very rare and serious type of blood clot. Women younger than 50 years old should be aware of this rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination. Other COVID-19 vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, are available for which this risk has not been seen.

The safety of vaccines is a top priority, and millions of people have already been safely vaccinated. The CDC states this potential safety issue was caught early and reflects the vaccine safety system is working. The brief pause reflected the federal government’s commitment to transparency as the CDC and FDA reviewed data. COVID-19 vaccines have undergone, and will continue to undergo, intensive safety monitoring

Learn more about Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine on the CDC website.  

The safety of vaccines is a top priority, and millions of people have already been safely vaccinated. All FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, according to the CDC. They are key to slowing the pandemic. The U.S. vaccine safety system makes sure all vaccines go through an extensive process to confirm levels of safety. The recently FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines went through this process. Even after emergency use authorization, the FDA continues to review clinical data about the vaccines. 

The CDC website has additional COVID-19 vaccine safety information

If you are pregnant, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It can help protect you from severe illness associated with COVID-19. According to the CDC, pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 than non-pregnant people.

If you would like to get pregnant later in life, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the CDC, there is no evidence that this vaccine, or any vaccines, may cause problems trying to get pregnant. Scientists continue to study COVID-19 vaccines carefully, as they do all vaccines.

If you have questions, a conversation with your health care provider about the COVID-19 vaccine may be helpful.   

Side effects from vaccines are normal signs that your body is building protection. As with other vaccines and according to the CDC, people have reported some side effects with the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The most common side effect is a sore arm. Some other side effects may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities. But they should go away in a few days. You can learn more on the CDC website.

In the event of an emergency, you should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. 

If you have side effects that bother you or do not go away, you should report them to your vaccination provider or primary care provider. You should also notify the CDC at 1-800-822-7967. This is because the CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. You can also use the CDC’s v-safe mobile app, which will help you monitor side effects and get second dose reminders

The FDA has a review process for safety and effectiveness that it completes before it will authorize vaccines for emergency use by the general public. Once the FDA authorizes a vaccine for emergency use, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet to vote on recommending the vaccine.

When evaluating an emergency use authorization (EUA), the FDA carefully balances the potential risks and benefits of the products based on the data currently available. During the national public health emergency period, the FDA continues to monitor both the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

As more COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for emergency use by the FDA, ACIP will quickly hold public meetings to review all available data about each vaccine and make recommendations for their use in the United States. Learn more about how the CDC is making COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.

The current FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are not recommended for people with certain conditions or of different ages. The current vaccines are authorized for use among the following ages:

Per the FDA, women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after Janssen vaccination. Other COVID-19 vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, are available for which this risk has not been seen.

There are other special considerations for when it might not be a good time to get the vaccine:

  • If you've recently been exposed to COVID-19, see the CDC guidelines for getting the vaccine.
  • If you’ve had monoclonal antibody treatment or received convalescent plasma, the CDC states vaccination should not occur for at least 90 days.

Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about getting vaccinated for COVID-19. 

According to the CDC, if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or an injected medicine, you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. A severe reaction is one that requires treatment at a hospital or with medications like an EpiPen (epinephrine). According to the CDC, the likelihood of severe reaction to the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines is very low.   

The CDC recommends the people who have seasonal allergies or allergies to food, pets or oral medications, can still be vaccinated. If you have any questions, you should check with your health care provider.

For more information, you can read the FDA’s Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet,  Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet and Janssen Patient Fact Sheet.

Anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation. Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. So, people with a recent infection may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period.

According to the CDC, experts are continuing to study the variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. There are multiple variants of the virus that cause COVID-19 in the United States, and these variants seem to spread more easily than other variants. An increase in cases of COVID-19 can lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths.

FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines help prevent the virus from spreading, which in turn can help decrease the opportunity for virus variants to develop and spread. According to the CDC, vaccines do help with protect against variants, and they continue to be closely investigated with more studies underway.

FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines play an essential role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and protecting people’s health. To help protect your and your loved one’s health, you also need to follow public health safety practices:

  • Wear face masks
  • Physically distance
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Isolate or quarantine when sick

Visit the CDC website to learn more about the virus variants. 

If you aren’t yet fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask to protect others as well as yourself. This is a way to protect your health, along with washing hands regularly, physically distancing and avoiding crowds.

Important reminders to make sure your mask works the best it can, according to the CDC:

  1. Make sure the mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets in and out around the edges of the mask.
  2. Pick a mask with layers so it helps keep your respiratory droplets in, while keeping droplets from others out.
  3. Two masks used together, such as a surgical mask with a cloth mask offers better protection to you and to those around you.

Learn more about mask fit on the CDC website.

According to the CDC, masks should be worn:

  • By people 2 years of age and older
  • Any time you are in a public setting
  • When you are with people who do not live with you, including inside your home or someone else’s home
  • Inside your home if someone you live with is sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19

Learn more about when to wear a mask on the CDC site

Local public health agencies determine quarantine recommendations. According to the CDC, quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Exposure is defined as 15 minutes or more of being within 6 feet of an individual who has tested positive or had symptoms within 2 days of exposure. By staying home or not going in public, quarantine helps prevent disease spread before a person knows they have the virus.

The CDC has identified 2 groups of people who do not need to quarantine when exposed:

  • People who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to quarantine following a direct exposure to someone with COVID-19, unless they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Fully vaccinated people are considered those who have had both doses of a two-dose vaccine or the one-dose vaccine, and 2 weeks have passed to allow for the vaccine to work. There are additional considerations for patients and residents who are fully vaccinated and in health care settings.
  • People who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months do not need to quarantine.

Learn more on the CDC website.

According to the CDC, isolation is used to separate people infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, staying in a specific “sick room” and using a separate bathroom if possible. The length of the isolation period depends on several factors. Review the CDC’s recommendations for when isolation can end based on the situation.

Cost and coverage

You will have $0 cost-share (copayments, deductibles or coinsurance) on your COVID-19 vaccination as noted below, no matter where you get the vaccine2 and including when 2 doses are required. In fact, you shouldn’t receive a bill for the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.  

  • Plans through Employers and Individual health plans, including Student Resources, Short Term Limited Liability and Exchange plans: You will have $0 cost-share for the vaccine at both in-network and out-of-network providers through the national public health emergency period. UnitedHealthcare pays a fee to the vaccination provider for the administration of the vaccine and the recommended observation. If you receive care for an adverse reaction, you may be responsible for copays, deductibles, coinsurance or out-of-network charges, according to your benefits plan.
  • Medicare plans: You will have $0 cost-share for the vaccine at both in-network and out-of-network providers through Dec. 31, 2021. Providers should not ask you for payment, upfront or after you receive the vaccine.
  • For Medicaid members in UnitedHealthcare Community Plans: You will have $0 cost-share for the vaccine with both in-network and out-of-network providers through the national public health emergency period. State variations and regulations may apply during this time. Please review the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan website and your state’s site for the latest information. If no state-specific guidance is available, UnitedHealthcare plan guidelines will apply.

If you receive additional services during your vaccination appointment or get the vaccination during a regular office visit, you may be responsible for copays, deductibles, coinsurance or out-of-network charges, according to your benefits plan. You should not receive any bills for your COVID-19 vaccination from your provider or UnitedHealthcare during the national emergency health period. Your vaccination provider should not charge you for the standard observation, which is the 15 to 30 minutes after receiving the vaccination.

If you have questions about your coverage or bills, you can go to your online UnitedHealthcare account or call the number on your health insurance card.

If a COVID-19 vaccine is received during a regular doctor’s visit where you talk about other health needs, you may have a cost-share for the office visit, according to your benefits plan. This means you may be responsible for a copay, coinsurance or deductible. The COVID-19 vaccination will have $0 cost-share for the time periods above. 

No. Be on alert for fraud. If someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee, don’t share your personal or financial information. Do not give your credit card, social security number, PayPal® account, Venmo® account or any other payment information to anyone to get access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • No one should ask you to pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine
  • No one should ask you to pay to get early access to a vaccine

UnitedHealthcare will only request secure information from you through your password-protected member account.

If you suspect fraud or are unsure, you have several ways to report it. Visit uhc.com/fraud, to start an online report. Or call one of the following numbers.

  • Call the number on your ID card
  • Call 1-844-359-7736 if you're a UnitedHealthcare member 
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE if you're a Medicare member

Learn more about how to protect yourself from fraud

Preparing for your first appointment

Here’s what we understand today:

  • Be prepared to show your photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to show proof of identity. 
  • Medicare plan members:
    • You will need your red, white and blue Medicare card because Medicare is paying for your vaccine in 2021. If you don’t have your Medicare card, you can find it by logging in to your Social Security account. More information can be found on the CMS site.
    • If you receive your vaccine at a regular provider visit, you will also need your UnitedHealthcare member ID card.  
  • Non-Medicare plan members: Bring your UnitedHealthcare member ID card.

Remember to wear your face mask and to physically distance at your appointment.

Additional information on preparing for your vaccination appointment can be found on the CDC website

For many members, UnitedHealthcare pays an administrative fee to the vaccination provider that covers the member’s standard observation. By showing your health insurance card, you are also helping make sure there is a digital record of your COVID-19 vaccination available through your online UnitedHealthcare member account.  

If you receive additional services during your vaccination appointment or get the vaccination during a regular office visit, you may be responsible for copays, deductibles, coinsurance or out-of-network charges, according to your benefits plan. You should not receive any bills for your COVID-19 vaccination from your provider or UnitedHealthcare during the national emergency health period. Your vaccination provider should not charge you for the standard observation, which is the 15-30 minutes after receiving the vaccination. 

Here are 3 key points from the CDC to keep in mind for your appointment:

  1. Your vaccination provider will likely monitor you after receiving the vaccine. This is in case of a rare allergic reaction. So, you’ll want to plan some extra time.
  2. Plan ahead for your second dose by scheduling your second vaccine appointment if possible. You can also sign up for free text messaging through the CDC’s VaxText to a get a reminder about your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  3. You should receive a vaccination card during your appointment that says which vaccine you received, the date it was received and where it was received. We suggest you keep your vaccination card in a safe place.

If you are receiving a two-dose vaccine, your vaccination card will be updated to reflect both doses at your second dose appointment. We encourage you to keep your card with you. 

Getting your second dose

If you are receiving the two-dose vaccine, you will need to get both doses within 3 to 4 weeks to get the protection indicated by the manufacturer. Make sure both doses you receive are from the same manufacturer and get your second dose as close to the recommended timing as possible. Follow the vaccination instructions from the manufacturer:

We strongly encourage you to schedule both doses at the same time to meet these time frames and get protection from COVID-19. The vaccination provider should assist you with scheduling the second dose when you receive your first dose. They should be able to tell you when to get the second dose.

You can also sign up for free text messaging through the CDC’s VaxText to a get a reminder about your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC recommends getting the second dose as close to the recommended timing of 3-4 weeks as possible. Follow the vaccination instructions from the manufacturer.

 If you miss your second vaccination appointment or are outside the recommended second-dose timing, you can still get the second dose. You won’t need to start over with the first dose. And even if the second dose is late, the second dose will still help you get protection from COVID-19. Schedule your next appointment with your vaccination provider as soon as you can.

You should have received a vaccination card at your first appointment with information on the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, date of your first vaccination and when your second dose is due. If you cannot find that, your vaccination provider can help you know which vaccine you received. 

After you get vaccinated

Side effects from vaccines are normal signs that your body is building protection. As with other vaccines and according to the CDC, people have reported some side effects with the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The most common side effect is a sore arm. Some other side effects may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities. But they should go away in a few days. You can learn more on the CDC website.

If you experience pain or discomfort after your vaccination, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help with your symptoms. You can also use a virtual visit to connect with a health care professional to discuss your symptoms.

In the event of an emergency, you should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. 

If you have side effects that bother you or do not go away, you should report them to your vaccination provider or primary care provider. You should also notify the CDC at 1-800-822-7967. This is because the CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. You can also use the CDC’s v-safe mobile app, which will help you monitor side effects and get second dose reminders. 

According to the CDC, if you got the Janssen vaccine within the last 3 weeks, your risk of developing a blood clot with low platelets is very low. However, be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets, which typically occur within 3 weeks of vaccination, and seek medical care urgently if any of these symptoms develop:

  • Severe headache
  • Backache
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Severe pain in your abdomen or stomach
  • Severe pain in your chest
  • Leg swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae)
  • New or easy bruising or bleeding

If you have side effects that bother you or do not go away, you should report them to your vaccination provider or primary care provider.

If you have other questions, call your primary care provider or other health care professional. You can also use a virtual visit to connect with a health care professional. To access 24/7 on-demand virtual visits through a designated national provider, sign in to your online UnitedHealthcare account. Cost-share for the virtual visit will be according to your benefits plan.

It depends. If you have received only one dose of a two-dose vaccine, keep wearing a mask, physically distancing and washing your hands regularly to protect yourself from COVID-19.

The CDC guidance changes once a person is fully vaccinated, which means it is 2 weeks after you have received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or after getting the one-dose Janssen vaccine. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can get back to doing many of the things they did before the pandemic, like:

  • Attending indoor gatherings with other fully vaccinated people or unvaccinated people of any age from one other household, unless someone is at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • Attending outdoor gatherings or activities without wearing a mask, unless it is a crowded area
  • Traveling domestically without getting tested before or after your trip — and no longer needing to quarantine after travel

Keep in mind that outdoor activities are typically safer than indoor activities. Visit the CDC website for more information on life after vaccination. 

Learn what you need to know about mask-wearing and choosing safer activities

No, the CDC does not recommend you get COVID-19 antibody or diagnostic testing.

According to the CDC, people who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine following a direct exposure to someone with COVID-19, unless they are experiencing symptoms.

Fully vaccinated people are considered those who have had the one-dose vaccine or both doses of a two-dose vaccine, and a period of about 2 weeks has passed to allow for the vaccine to work. There are additional considerations for fully-vaccinated patients and residents in health care settings.

Learn more on the CDC website.

UnitedHealthcare is committed to providing members an accurate and complete digital COVID-19 vaccination record. At this time, UnitedHealthcare does not yet have COVID-19 vaccination record for all members, given the many different vaccination sites and not yet receiving all vaccination information. We continue to work closely with states and vaccination providers to access this information.

Your digital COVID-19 vaccination record can be found within your online UnitedHealthcare member account. The record puts your vaccination information at your fingertips. It shows the vaccination date, including the manufacturer and both dates for two-dose vaccines. This record may be helpful for employment, attending events or doing other activities where a COVID-19 vaccination record may be requested.

Your digital record is not intended to replace your official CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. Continue to keep it in a safe place for when you need it.

We encourage you to keep your doctor informed of your vaccination. Your UnitedHealthcare digital vaccination record is one way you may choose to share your vaccination information with your doctor or other health care provider.   

Beginning in June, you may choose to report your vaccination information to us, if you do not yet have a vaccination record showing up in your online UnitedHealthcare member account. UnitedHealthcare may use that information to help you get timely information, including booster shot reminders. Should UnitedHealthcare receive updated vaccination data from your vaccination provider, your self-reported data will be replaced by the provider’s information.

We continue to work closely with states and vaccination providers to help make sure you have an accurate and complete digital vaccination record.

We encourage you to keep your vaccination card in a safe place. You may want to consider taking a picture or scan of your vaccination card as a backup copy. Be sure not to post a picture of your vaccination card on the internet or via social media, as there may be people who try to use your information as their own.

Your digital vaccination record, which may be available through your online UnitedHealthcare member account, may also be helpful in situations where you may need to show proof of vaccination.

Stay safe and healthy

It’s important to follow public health guidelines to help you stay healthy, especially if you haven’t yet received the COVID-19 vaccine. Protect yourself and others from COVID-19 by following these simple steps:

  • Wear a face mask
  • Continue to physically distance
  • Avoid crowds
  • Wash your hands

Visit the CDC website for information on life after vaccination

Also, remember to stay on top of your doctor appointments like annual checkups and care for anxiety, depression and loneliness. Most providers also offer telehealth visits to help you get the care you need.

Helpful Resources

Want to learn more? Here are clinical resources from various authorities to help in understanding COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccine fraud awareness

Be on alert for fraud. If someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee, don’t share your personal or financial information.

  • No one should ask you to pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine
  • No one should ask you to pay to get early access to a vaccine
UnitedHealthcare will only request secure information from you through your password-protected member account.

If you have questions or need information about your benefits

Call the number on your member ID card or sign in to your health account.

1 If you receive additional services during your vaccination appointment, you may be responsible for copays, deductibles, coinsurance or out-of-network charges, according to your benefits plan.

2 Key things to know about COVID-19 vaccines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Feb.27, 2021.

3 Always follow vaccination instructions from the manufacturer. 

Disclaimer

The benefits described on this website describe federal requirements and UnitedHealthcare national policy, additional benefits may be available in some states and under some plans. 

This page describes benefits we offer to all members in all states. They also include federal requirements. More benefits may be available in some states and under some plans. We have created rules and practices that may apply to some of our products at this time. The information is a summary and is subject to change. For more information, contact your account representative  or call the number on your member ID card.