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All of our locations offer U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-certified preventive care and treatment for COVID-19. From medication to information and support, we are doing everything to build your immunity against COVID-19 and reduce the chance of you passing it on.
Whether you’ve had COVID-19 or not, getting vaccinated is the most effective way to stop the spread and boost your immunity. It’s easy to schedule your first, second, and if appropriate, booster doses with Optum. To schedule your vaccination or booster appointment, find an Optum provider near you.
Bivalent vaccine is approved for all administered doses in ages six months and older.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new recommendations allow an additional updated (bivalent) vaccine dose for adults ages 65 years and older at least four months after inital dose, and additional doses for people who are immunocompromised.
Pfizer and Moderna Monovalent vaccine is no longer authorized for use in the U.S.
Because COVID-19 vaccines become less effective after a period of time, boosters are the best way to keep your immunity strong. If you’re six months or older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend getting a booster after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series.
Have more questions about vaccines and boosters? Look through our COVID-19 FAQ’s or contact us.
COVID -19 testing
Depending on your needs and time frame, there are different tests to choose from. We’ll help you figure out which test is the best choice for you.
If you want to know if you currently have COVID-19:
Diagnostic tests can show if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There are two types of COVID-19 diagnostic tests:
- Molecular tests (such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests): Highly-accurate tests that detect the genetic material or nucleic acid present inside a virus particle. These tests take about three to seven days to get results.
- Antigen tests (aka rapid tests): Same-day tests that detect one or more specific proteins from a virus particle. These tests are less sensitive and slightly less accurate.
If you want to know if you have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past:
Antibody tests look for antibodies in your blood that your immune system produced in response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection and, at this time, should also not be used to check for immunity. Samples for antibody tests are typically collected by a doctor or other medical professional by taking blood from a finger stick or your vein.
COVID-19, I think I have it
If you’re feeling sick, it’s best to stay home and avoid contact with others until you know more. To find out if you are infected, our symptom checker can help you figure out if a virtual visit or in-office visit is the next best step. Start the symptom checker ›
COVID-19- safety protocols
Our policies and protocols are informed by the most up-to-date information and CDC guidelines. We take extra precautions to ensure a safe experience for everyone who steps into our office.
Safe visitor policy
To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, we have implemented policies regarding the number of people in our offices, social distancing and the wearing of masks.Read the full safe visitor policy ›
Frequently asked questions
From vaccines, to testing, to protocols and more, we understand that COVID-19 comes with a lot of questions. Search or scroll through our FAQs to find an answer to your question. If you don’t see an answer below, you contact us and we’ll do our best to get you the information you need.
Can I get a COVID-19 booster dose? What is the difference between a third, or additional dose and a booster dose?
Everyone six months and older is eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. Booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are free and available statewide. Check eligibility and criteria ›
A COVID-19 booster shot is given after the protection provided by the original shot(s) has begun to decrease over time. Typically, you would get a booster after the immunity from the initial dose(s) naturally starts to wane. The booster is designed to help people maintain their level of immunity for longer.
An additional dose is administered to people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. This additional dose is intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series.
Should I receive the same vaccine type I received for my initial vaccine series, or can I receive a different vaccine type (“mix and match”)?
- For children under five years old: Yes, for children in this age range, the vaccines and boosters are NOT interchangeable. You will need to continue with the same brand (Pfizer or Moderna) throughout the entire vaccine/booster schedule.
- For adults and children over five years old: No, whether you received the Moderna or Pfizer initial vaccine series, you can still get either booster shot.
Note: Please be advised that we are no longer allowed to give the old vaccines as boosters. Instead, we now offer the new booster, also known as the “Bivalent,” which gives better protection against the latest COVID-19 variants. When you arrive for your scheduled appointment, you will receive the Pfizer Bivalent booster. We do not offer the Moderna Bivalent booster for adults or children over five years old at this time.
AVAILABILITY AND ELIGIBILITY
Where can I find a full list of who is eligible for the vaccine?
The New York State Department of Health has recently expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine. Find out if you are eligible ›
Will I have to pay to get vaccinated? How much will the vaccine cost?
FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are distributed for free by states and local communities. You will not be billed for any out-of-pocket costs at any time.
Will I have a choice in which COVID-19 vaccine I receive?
Yes. All currently authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the CDC does not recommend one vaccine over another. The most important decision is to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines ›
Is the vaccine approved for use in children?
Yes, learn more about age eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine ›
If I’m pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive, can I get vaccinated?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that all pregnant women be vaccinated against COVID-19. Pregnant women have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women. The vaccines are very effective at preventing COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and death. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and those planning to conceive should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their provider.
Read more from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and NYS ›
SHOULD I GET VACCINATED?
If I’m feeling hesitant, why should I get the vaccine?
Vaccines are one of the most effective tools to protect your health and prevent disease. Vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses so your body will be ready to fight the virus, if you are exposed (also called immunity). You should get vaccinated to:
- Lower your chances of getting COVID-19 or experiencing severe disease. The vaccine helps to protect you by creating an antibody response without risking severe illness or spreading the disease to others.
- Protect yourself, your family and your community. You can spread COVID-19 without feeling sick or showing any symptoms.
- Help stop the pandemic. The more people who get vaccinated, the less opportunity COVID-19 has to spread and cause severe illness. We need to use all the tools we have to stop the pandemic. Even after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a mask, physical distancing and handwashing are still important.
Federal, state and local health officials as well as major healthcare professional groups such as the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists highly encourage everyone who is eligible to get a vaccine.
I recovered from COVID-19. Do I still need to get vaccinated?
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to people regardless of whether they’ve already had a COVID-19 infection.
View CDC frequently asked questions for more ›
How long does protection from a COVID-19 vaccine last?
It is not yet known how long vaccine protection will last. Studies show that protection against the virus may decrease over time. This reduction has led to the CDC recommending a COVID-19 booster.
Can we stop wearing masks and social distancing after getting vaccinated?
In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings. However, if you are in an area with a high number of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and when in close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
Learn you can protect yourself and others after you are fully vaccinated ›
SAFETY AND EFFICACY
Are the currently available COVID vaccines safe and effective?
Vaccines have very high safety standards and the COVID-19 vaccines are no exception. For current safety and efficacy information about the vaccines, visit the CDC website.
The vaccine was developed so rapidly. How do I know it went through rigorous testing?
Vaccines are approved by the FDA only if they have been proven safe and effective in a large group of people. COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring has been the most intense and comprehensive in U.S. history. More information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines can be found on the CDC frequently asked questions webpage.
How do the vaccines work?
COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s important to note that these vaccines don’t contain the COVID-19 virus. They cannot give you COVID-19. Rather, they give your immune system a practice run at taking out a small part of the virus, the spike that the virus uses to get into our cells.
- mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna): Two of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. use messenger RNA (mRNA). Learn about mRNA vaccines and how they work on the CDC website ›
- Viral vector vaccine (J&J/Janssen): This vaccine uses a harmless version of a different virus, called a “vector,” to deliver information to the body that helps it protect you. Learn more about viral vector COVID-19 vaccines ›
What if someone misses getting the second dose of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC recommends getting the second dose as close to the recommended timing of three or four weeks as possible. There is currently limited information on the effectiveness of receiving your second shot later than six weeks after the first shot. However, if you receive your second shot at any time after the recommended date, you don’t have to restart your vaccine series. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines that require two shots ›
If you get a vaccine do you need a negative COVID test beforehand?
No. The CDC does not recommend COVID-19 screening tests before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Please consult with your health care provider if you have specific questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and your health.
Is it better to get natural immunity to COVID-19 rather than immunity from a vaccine?
No. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, it is unknown how long this protection lasts. A study of COVID-19 infections in Kentucky among people who were previously infected with SAR-CoV-2 shows that unvaccinated people are more than twice as likely to get infected again than those who were fully vaccinated after initially contracting the virus. COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and vaccines, even after prior infection, help prevent further infections.
I’ve heard about ‘herd immunity.’ What would it take to get the population to ‘herd immunity’ for COVID-19?
‘Herd immunity’ or community immunity happens when enough people in a population have protection from a disease because they have had the disease or because they are vaccinated. As a result, the virus won’t easily spread among the community. The percentage of people who need to have protection varies by disease. Experts are still learning how many people have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the community or population can be considered protected.
SIDE EFFECTS AND ALLERGIC REACTIONS
What side effects might I expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
Learn more about what to expect after getting vaccinated for COVID-19, including normal side effects and tips to reduce pain or discomfort. 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 because the CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, you can use the CDC’s v-safe mobile app, which will help you monitor side effects.
In the event of an emergency, you should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
Breast Imaging and the COVID-19 Vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines (as well as other vaccines) can cause temporary enlarged/swollen lymph nodes in the underarm area (axillary lymphadenopathy) on the same side as where the vaccination was received. This is a normal immune response that will not interfere with breast cancer detection. The Optum breast imaging team is following guidance from the Society of Breast Imaging. If this response is noted, we are recommending a three month follow-up ultrasound of the affected underarm to confirm this condition has resolved. When planning a routine breast screening appointment, patients should indicate that they would like an appointment either before receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or six weeks after receiving the second vaccine dose.
Are there measures in place to monitor for adverse reactions at the time I get the vaccine?
The CDC recommends monitoring people at the time they are vaccinated:
15 minutes for anyone getting vaccinated and at least 30 minutes for those who have had severe allergic reactions or any type of allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy.
For additional information, visit the CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) or get more details on what to expect at the site you will be vaccinated.
CDC V-safe — is a smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe uses text messaging and web surveys from CDC to check in with vaccine recipients following COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe also provides second vaccine dose reminders if needed, and a telephone follow up to anyone who reports medically-significant (important) adverse events.
Should I be concerned about allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines?
If you have a history of allergic reactions to vaccines, talk to your health care provider before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC has learned of reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions — also known as anaphylaxis — after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and allergic reactions ›
What do I do if I had a reaction or experienced side-effects to the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, should I still get the second?
If you aren’t able to get the second shot of a mRNA vaccine because you had an allergic reaction to the first shot, ask your doctor if you should get a different type of COVID-19 vaccine.
Learn about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines ›
Will the vaccine make me sterile?
No. This rumor and others are being spread on the internet to scare people away from the vaccine. There is no evidence to back up these claims.
The above information is sourced from the following sites:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- NYS Department of Health
- American Cancer Society
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Johnson & Johnson
- Johns Hopkins
Information about COVID-19 and Vaccines
- NYS Department of Health: Daily COVID-19 vaccination updates ›
- Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccination program in NYC ›
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet
- Moderna COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet
- Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet
For even more information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),or the New York State Department of Health,or NYC.gov.
We understand that as COVID-19 continues, so will your questions. If you can’t find the answer you need in our FAQs, contact us.
Thank you for helping us make Optum a safe place for everyone.