A: The goal is for everyone to easily get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as large quantities of the vaccine are available. Because the supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is currently limited, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing recommendations to federal, state, and local governments on who should be vaccinated first.
- Each state has its own plan for deciding which groups of people will be vaccinated first. You can contact your military hospital or state health department for more information on its plan for COVID-19 vaccination.
A: If you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get either of the currently available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
- If you had a severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you should not get the second dose.
- If you have had an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to a vaccine or injectable therapy for another disease, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated.
A: It’s still important to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes wearing masks, washing hands, restriction of movement, and physical distancing. The more steps you and your family can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the safer you’ll be. This is true even after you get your vaccine.
A: Yes. The intent of the vaccine is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We’ll still need to wear appropriate face coverings and practice physical distancing.
- Initially, we will not have enough vaccine for everyone who wants it and the COVID-19 pandemic risks will continue. We will continue to recommend wearing masks and practicing physical distancing, for everyone, until the pandemic risk of COVID-19 is substantially reduced.
A: Everyone who receives a COVID-19 vaccine will be tracked through existing medical record reporting systems.
A: People who are offered the first-available vaccine are considered to be in groups that are most in need of COVID-19 protection. Vaccinated people will be protecting themselves, as well as their families and all people with whom they interact.
- Evaluation of the first-available vaccine will continue, even after its pre-licensure release. The release of other vaccines cannot be fully predicted, so people who are offered the first-available vaccine are encouraged to receive it.
A: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool in stopping the pandemic. It may be an effective way to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19, and it may help keep you from getting seriously ill if you do catch the virus.
- Getting vaccinated also protects the health of the people around you—especially those who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
A: Each location may be at different phases of the DoD Population Schema. To check vaccine availabilities, contact your local military hospital or clinic.
- Continue following @TRICARE for more information. Visit your military hospital's website or social media to stay informed about their vaccination process and availability.
A: The availability of the vaccine may vary by location. Eventually, you’ll be able to get the vaccine at:
• Your local military hospital or clinic.
• Your civilian provider.
• TRICARE network pharmacies.
• TRICARE non-network providers or TRICARE non-network pharmacies.
- If you visit a non-network provider or pharmacy, you may need to pay a cost-share based on your plan, and file a claim for reimbursement. The vaccine itself is offered at no cost, but there may be a cost based on your plan for an office visit or if you require follow-on care. Wherever you eventually receive your vaccination, please remember you need to check availability before showing up.
A: No. Service members who are not able to access a DoD vaccination site and elect to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through non-DoD channels must provide documentation of receipt of the vaccination to their unit for documentation in appropriate medical readiness systems.
- Dependents of active duty service members, retirees, and other eligible DoD beneficiaries are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and encouraged to access COVID-19 vaccines through existing processes at military treatment facilities or through the private sector care component of TRICARE.
A: Each military hospital or clinic may have a different process in place for signing up to get the vaccine. We encourage you to check with your local military hospital or clinic.
A: TRICARE will cover the cost of the vaccine from any location, but if you go to a civilian provider, there may be a cost for an office visit based on your plan. Those who receive their vaccine through a civilian pharmacy should not be billed. Active duty service members will require a referral from their primary care manager to get the vaccine from a TRICARE-authorized civilian provider, but a referral is not required to get the vaccine from a civilian pharmacy.
- To learn more, visit: https://tricare.mil/HealthWellness/HealthyLiving/Coronavirus/COVID-Vaccine
A: If you've already received your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you can sign up for v-safe. V-safe is a smart-phone based tool developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell the CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. V-safe will also remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one.
A: mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable with each other. Therefore, you should take all necessary planning steps to ensure you are at a location that has the same vaccine product as your first dose. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that in truly exceptional circumstances in which the first dose vaccine product cannot be determined or is no longer available, any available mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at a minimum interval of 28 days between doses to complete the mRNA vaccine series.
A: Within certain limits, military members who incur or aggravate an injury, disease or illness in a qualifying duty status are covered for that episode of care under the Line of Duty authority. Determinations on any benefits from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will be made by the VHA. All individuals vaccinated with a Food and Drug Administration-authorized/approved COVID-19 vaccine may be eligible for compensation for adverse reactions under other programs, including: the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) program, National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), applicable Workers Compensation authorities and other sources of care for which eligible (e.g., at Federally Qualified Health Centers in their community).
A: Yes. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should delay getting the COVID-19 vaccine until you are well
A: Because the duration of immunity from natural infection with COVID-19 is unknown, vaccine may have value in protecting people who have already had the disease. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Talk with your provider if you have been previously infected with COVID-19.
A: Each potential recipient of COVID-19 vaccine will receive a vaccine-specific Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet for Recipients from the FDA, which will provide the following information:
- Basic information on COVID-19, symptoms, and what to discuss with a health care provider before vaccination
- Who should and should not receive the vaccine
- That recipients have the choice to receive the vaccine
- Dosage and vaccine series information
- Risks and benefits of the vaccine
- An explanation of what an EUA is and why it is issued
- Any approved available alternatives for preventing COVID-19
- Additional resources
A: The COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized are given in a 2-dose series. The vaccines are NOT interchangeable and a vaccine recipient’s second dose must be from the same manufacturer as the first dose. Arrangements for scheduling a second dose and setting a reminder can be made while you are getting your first dose. The series does not have to be restarted if there is greater time than recommended between the first and second dose. The two COVID-19 vaccines currently available are administered in two doses, either 21 (Pfizer) or 28 days (Moderna) after the first dose. Check with your local military hospital or clinic to see which product they are administering to see how long between each dose.
A: The first supply of the vaccine is limited. The first vaccines will be given in phases. The first phases will be for:
- Individuals providing direct medical care
- Individuals maintaining essential installation functions
- Deploying forces
- Individuals at the highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19
- Adults age 75 and older
Vaccines will be offered to other TRICARE beneficiaries as more vaccines are available and after priority individuals have been vaccinated.
A: Dependents of active duty members who are in a high-risk category and at least 16 years of age may be offered COVID-19 vaccine when the DoD immunization site is offering vaccine to high-risk individuals in the appropriate age group. Those ≥ 16 years but ≤ 18 years of age may only receive Pfizer vaccine per the Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization. At this time, not every immunization site has Pfizer vaccine. Therefore, high-risk dependents in this age group may need to receive the Pfizer vaccine in the community. All high-risk beneficiaries are encouraged to contact your local military hospital or clinic to learn when vaccine may be available and how to schedule an appointment.
A: The current vaccine trials have not studied the safety and efficacy for children and manufactures are not currently asking the Food and Drug Administration for authorization to vaccinate children.
A: Yes, based on Department of Defense prioritization. While there is limited vaccine availability, vaccination distribution prioritization will focus on those providing direct medical care, maintaining essential national security and installation functions, deploying forces, and those beneficiaries at the highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19. TRICARE beneficiaries empaneled at a DoD military treatment facility are eligible to receive the vaccine there. TRICARE beneficiaries who receive care at military treatment facilities on a space-available basis can alternately receive vaccine through the local civilian jurisdiction, when available.
A. The DoD is implementing a standardized and coordinated strategy for prioritizing, distributing, and administering the COVID-19 vaccine through a phased approach to all DoD uniformed service members, both the active and Selected Reserve components, including members of the National Guard; dependents; retirees; civilian employees, and selected DoD contract personnel as authorized in accordance with DoD regulation. Right now the vaccine is limited – it’s only available at some military hospitals and clinics and it’s being distributed in phases. Eventually, it will be made available to everyone, based on the DoD's approved population schema.
A. The vaccines may cause side effects in some people, like sore muscles, feeling tired, or mild fever. For most people, these side effects will last no more than a day or two. Having these side effects doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. If you have questions about how you’re feeling after your vaccination, contact your provider or call the Military Health System Nurse Advice Line. It’s rare, but if you have a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. The hospital department that provides emergency services to patients who need immediate medical attention. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the vaccine.
A. All suspected serious or unexpected vaccine-related adverse events must be reported through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. Anyone can report to VAERS (https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html). The majority of VAERS reports are sent in by vaccine recipients, health care providers, and vaccine manufacturers. Vaccine recipients are encouraged to seek the help of their health care professional in filling out the VAERS form.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S Air Force
U.S. Department of Defense
DOD Force Health Protection Guidance
The White House