COVID-19 Vaccine Information
We've started administering the COVID-19 vaccine to the public while following the guidelines developed by state and local public health departments. Here's what you can expect from us:
- Based on state and local public health guidelines, if you identify as an eligible individual based off age, we will notify you via phone, direct mail and/or through MyUnityPoint when you are eligible to schedule an appointment.
- If you identify as an eligible individual based off your place of employment or occupation, we encourage you to closely monitor communication from your local public health department. We will continue to partner with local public health departments on the best strategies to vaccinate and broadly communicate to these groups of individuals.
- We expect COVID-19 vaccines to be widely available to the general public later in 2021. Please note that community members aren't able to sign up for the vaccine in advance.
In the meantime, we encourage everyone, including those who have received the vaccine, to wear a face covering, social distance and wash your hands frequently in order to help reduce your risk of COVID-19.
Vaccine Availability, Cost & Distribution
Supplies will increase over time, and the vaccine should be able to the general public later in 2021. As soon as we have more information to proceed, we will partner with public health to contact people who are eligible for the vaccine regarding next steps. A COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed.
How is the vaccine being distributed right now?
Federal, state and public health departments determine eligibility criteria. You can view Iowa criteria here: https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus/Vaccine/Information-for-the-Public
Distribution will depend on the number of available vaccine doses and progress will vary by county due to a variety of factors. If you identify as a member of one of these groups, please know we're working quickly to determine eligibility, timelines and processes. We appreciate your patience.
We expect COVID-19 vaccines to be widely available to the general public later in 2021. Eligibility, timelines and processes will depend on the number of available vaccine doses.
How will I be notified when I can receive the vaccine?
If you are eligible based off age, we will notify you via phone, direct mail and/or through MyUnityPoint when you are able to call and schedule an appointment. If you are eligible based off your place of employment or occupation, we encourage you to closely monitor communication from your local public health department or employer. We will continue to partner with the local public health department on the best strategies to vaccinate and broadly communicate to these groups of individuals.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine free?
The only charge for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is an administrative fee, as the vaccine is being provided to us at no cost. The administrative fee is to cover costs we incur such as staffing, supplies, etc. This administrative fee will be billed to a patient's insurance company. Most insurance providers are covering the full cost of the administrative fee so there is no final patient cost/responsibility. For uninsured patients, we will bill the Health Resources and Services Administration's Provider Relief Fund, and we anticipate they will pay the cost in full. We recommend you contact your insurance carrier to determine your exact coverage.
About the Vaccine
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Since COVID-19 is a new virus, we understand you may have questions about COVID-19 vaccine safety. It's important to note that the FDA established rigorous safety requirements for these vaccines, and more than ten of thousands of individuals participated in the clinical trials. Even though the virus itself is new, the science behind the vaccines is not new—it is rooted in years of research, and every step of the vaccine process went through the same safety assessments as all other vaccines. Finally, we want our community to know that our clinical leaders and vaccine and infectious disease experts thoroughly reviewed all data surrounding the clinical trials of these vaccines, and they support vaccination to help stop the pandemic. For more information on vaccine safety, we recommend visiting the CDC website.
What are the ingredients in the COVID vaccine?
There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval by the FDA. Ingredients for the Pfizer COVID Vaccine may be found on the EUA Fact Sheet.
Ingredients for the Moderna COVID Vaccine may be found on the EUA Fact Sheet. Ingredients for the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID Vaccine may be found on the EUA Fact Sheet.
What are the potential side effects?
Side effects are common, but generally mild to moderate
and occur within the first few days of getting the vaccine. For more information on vaccine safety, speed of development and potential side effects of vaccination, we recommend reading the Pfizer EUA Fact Sheet, Moderna EUA Fact Sheet, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet. Materials were created by the FDA and
include the latest information.
Will people need to mask after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it's still important to follow all the guidelines we've come to know during the pandemic: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and stay home when you're sick. We don't know how long the immunity from the vaccine is going to last, and it's going to be a while before a large percentage of our communities get this vaccine.
Do I need a second dose?
Johnson & Johnson/Janssen is one dose. Pfizer and Moderna are two doses. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose at least 21 days after your first dose, and the Moderna vaccine requires a second dose at least 28 days after your first dose. These are the intervals utilized in the vaccine studies, so receiving your second dose close to the 21- or 28-day timeframe is advised.
The CDC states you can schedule the second dose up to six weeks after the first dose for both Pfizer and Moderna and still receive the full benefit of the vaccine. If your second dose is given outside of that six-week window, there is no need to restart the series. The second dose should be the same brand as the initial dose as there is not data to support interchanging brands. You will not be able to schedule your second dose appointment any sooner than the 21- or 28-day intervals.
Where can I find more information and/or data on the safety and efficacy of the COVID vaccine?
Data for Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen is publicly available through the FDA website, found on the Pfizer EUA Fact Sheet, Moderna EUA Fact Sheet, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen EUA Fact Sheet.
Should I Get the Vaccine?
Is the vaccine mandatory for UnityPoint Health team members?
The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory for UnityPoint Health team members at this time. Each team member will be provided educational materials so they can be equipped to make an informed decision on whether or not they choose to receive the vaccine.
Should pregnant or nursing individuals receive the vaccine?
Yes, pregnant and nursing individuals are eligible to receive the vaccine. They were excluded from the clinical trials in the development of these vaccines, so no information has been collected regarding safety during pregnancy. However, our Women's Service Line supports the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the position the vaccine should be offered to pregnant and lactating individuals.
It is important to know that being pregnant puts a woman at increased risk of more severe COVID-19 with an increase in ICU admission and ventilator use when compared to non-pregnant women in the same age group. The bottom line – it's a personal decision, so we recommend pregnant individuals contact their provider to discuss their individual situation.
Should I get the vaccine if I've had COVID-19?
Yes. If you've already had COVID-19, your body may have built up antibodies to fight future infection. We know that natural infection results in immunity lasting at least 90 days, but we do not yet know how long that immunity lasts. Because of natural immunity, individuals who have had COVID-19 can consider deferring vaccination for 90 days, particularly in times of vaccine shortage. However, it is safe and effective to get the vaccine sooner, as long as your active infection and isolation period has ended.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have allergies?
If you have severe anaphylaxis or an allergy to one of the ingredients of the COVID-19 vaccine, please talk to your health care provider. For most people, even those with seasonal allergies or minor food allergies, it is safe, and we highly recommend getting the vaccine.
Making a Difference - One Vaccine at a Time
History in the making as the COVID-19 vaccine arrived at UnityPoint Health campuses for our front-line team members. When it's your turn, we hope you'll roll up your sleeve, too.