COVID-19 Vaccine Information

On August 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the Pfizer-BioNTech (now known as Comirnaty) vaccine has received full FDA approval for the prevention of COVID-19 in people 16 and older by meeting the FDA’s standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. For individuals 5-15 years old, the Pfizer vaccine continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA). The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are also available for individuals 18 or older under EUA. All COVID-19 vaccine doses are free for members.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pfizer vaccine is roughly 95% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections and requires two shots, 21 days apart.1

Additional Vaccine Information

There is a remote chance that vaccines could cause a severe allergic reaction. This would likely occur within an hour of receiving the vaccine.

Mild symptoms including muscle pain at the injection site, low-grade fever, and/or headache have been reported over the first few days after vaccination. Long-term side effects from vaccines are rare. Most side effects are expected to occur within the first six weeks of a vaccine. The clinical trials will follow vaccine participants for two years, which will give us more information about long-term side effects in the future.

If you receive a Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) or Moderna vaccine, you must take two doses. Full immunity (up to 95% effectiveness) will be achieved 14 days after your second dose. If you receive a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, full immunity (up to 66% effectiveness) will be achieved 14 days after you get the vaccine. We are still learning how well the vaccines prevent the spread of COVID-19 and how long protection from the vaccine lasts. After you are vaccinated, it is important that you continue to wear a mask per CDC guidelines, watch your distance, and wash your hands often until more people become fully vaccinated.

You may visit the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC website for more information.


Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine 5–11 Approval

Children ages 5 through 11 are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave emergency authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children over the age of 5. 

The vaccine is free. Check with your child’s doctor or at a local pharmacy to see if they offer the COVID-19 vaccination for children ages 5 through 11.

Children are just as likely to get infected with COVID-19 as adults. Getting the vaccine will help protect children from getting COVID-19. It will also help protect family members and those who may be at an increased risk of getting COVID-19. The vaccine is safe for children. So, get your children vaccinated as soon as you can.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults, but they are given an age-appropriate dose of the vaccine. The vaccine is given in two doses, three weeks apart. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccine. 

After your child’s COVID-19 vaccination they may have some minor side effects. These include:

  • pain, redness or swelling at the injection sight
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever
  • nausea

These side effects are normal and mean their body is building protection from COVID-19.

If you have questions about the vaccine, Optima Family Care members should call Member Services at 1-800-881-2166 (TTY: 711) and Optima Health Community Care members should call 1-888-512-3171 (TTY:711).

COVID-19 Vaccine for Medicaid Consumer-Directed Services

Optima Health Medicaid members receiving consumer-directed services and their attendants are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.