COVID-19 Vaccines: Latest news and updates
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free for all IEHP Members. Recommended for everyone ages 5 and older, the vaccines can help protect people from severe illness, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. The vaccines won’t make people sick or give them COVID-19. They may have some minor side effects, which are not harmful and should last no more than a few days. The vaccines can help us end the pandemic and save lives. Vaccinated people should keep wearing a mask, washing their hands often and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance in public places. IEHP Members can learn more by continuing to visit the IEHP website and or visiting the California Department of Health’s website.
How vaccines build immunity
While the COVID-19 vaccines are relatively new - the technology and science behind the vaccines have been in development for decades. In the video below, we demonstrate how years of vaccine research and advanced technology allowed researchers and scientists worldwide to be prepared to develop an mRNA vaccine that could help fight the spread of a global infectious disease. Please view our video to learn more on how vaccines build immunity.
PFIZER VACCINE GETS FULL FDA APPROVAL
Please note, the Pfizer vaccine and Comirnaty are the same vaccine. The FDA reports that they have the same formulation and are interchangeable.
Where can I get the vaccine?
For Members who want the vaccine, there are several options:
- IEHP recommends My Turn online at myturn.ca.gov. My Turn online, a website from the California Department of Public Health, is a convenient, one-stop website where those who want a COVID-19 vaccine can:
- Set up their first, second and booster shot appointments
- Set up family or group appointments
- Find walk-in clinics in their area
- Set up in-home vaccinations (if needed)
- Arrange for transportation (if needed)
For those without internet access, the California COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 can help provide the same services.
- Large pharmacy chains, like CVS and Walgreens provide the vaccine. Many have walk-in appointments available. IEHP recommends calling the pharmacy first to confirm.
- Vaccine appointment sign-ups are also available online through the public health department in your county.
- For Riverside County, visit www.ruhealth.org/covid-19-vaccine.
- For San Bernardino County, visit www.sbcovid19.com/vaccine/.
Do I have to pay for the vaccine?
No. The vaccine is free for everyone who wants it.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes, the top medical experts in our nation and state agree that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The vaccines were tested in large clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards. Many people from different ages, races, and ethnic groups, as well as those with different medical conditions, were part of the trials.
Does the vaccine have side effects?
Most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated for COVID-19. Any minor symptoms that result usually go away on their own within a week. Call your Doctor immediately if you start to have any of the following symptoms: severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain/swelling, or shortness of breath, chest pain, feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart. Your Doctor or health care provider will explain any potential side effects and what you need to do about them.
Since the emergency use authorization of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart) have occurred in some people who have received these vaccines. In most of these people, symptoms began within a few days following the second dose of these vaccines. There have been confirmed reports of myocarditis or pericarditis in individuals who received COVID -19 vaccine, particularly among males ages 30 and younger. While this is concerning and is under further investigation, myocarditis or pericarditis after COVID vaccination is extremely rare as more than 318 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States from December 14, 2020 through June 21, 2021.
Will there be any long-term side effects?
COVID-19 vaccines are being tested in large clinical trials to assess their safety. It will take time and more people will need to get the vaccine before we learn about very rare or long-term side effects. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Health care providers are required to report any problems or adverse events following vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
What if I have side effects?
Contact your Doctor right away. The CDC offers a smartphone-based tool called v-safe to check in on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When you get your vaccine, you should also get a v-safe handout telling you how to enroll in the program. If you enroll, you will get regular text messages with links to surveys where you can report any problems or side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?
No, the vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 because it does not contain an infectious virus.
How many shots will be needed?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, 3 to 4 weeks apart. While the first shot helps build protection, you will need to come back a few weeks later for the second one to get the most protection the vaccine can offer. Your Doctor will advise you when you should return for the second shot, as it varies by type of vaccine. The J&J vaccine requires only one shot.
Do I need the booster shot?
Studies show after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus and the ability to prevent infection with variants may decrease over time and due to changes in variants. However, the booster shot may increase your immune response to COVID-19 and its variants, increasing prevention efforts against the virus.
Who can get a booster shot?
Booster shots are available to everyone ages 12 years and older who are fully vaccinated but the timing of the booster varies by vaccine and age group.
When can I get the booster shot?
- If you received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, everyone 12 years or older should get the booster at least five months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series.
- If you received the Moderna vaccine, adults 18 years and older should get the booster at least six months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series.
- If you received the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, adults 18 years and older should get the booster at least two months after receiving your J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccination.
Does the booster shot have side effects?
You may experience side effects after getting the booster shot. These are normal signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19.
Do I need to keep wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others once I get fully vaccinated?
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide, please keep using all the tools we know can help stop the spread of COVID-19. This means keep wearing a mask, washing your hands often, avoiding crowds, and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance in public places.
Can children and babies get COVID-19?
Yes. Children can get COVID-19. Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, or they may have no symptoms at all, which is called being asymptomatic. Fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults. But, infants (children younger than 1 year old) and children with certain medical conditions might have a higher risk for getting COVID-19.
Can children get a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are approved for children 5 years old and older. To learn more, visit the CDC website and/or your county’s public health departments online:
Yes. The CDC has approved the use of routine vaccines for children, adolescents and adults (including pregnant women) on the same day as COVID-19 vaccines (as well as within 14 days of each other). Talk to your Doctor about what’s best for you.
If I have previously tested positive for COVID-19, can I still get the vaccine?
Yes. People are advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. This is because re-infection with COVID-19 is possible. Those who had a diagnosis in the past three months, be sure to talk to your Doctor about when you should get the vaccine.
Will IEHP provide transportation to a COVID-19 vaccine clinic?
Yes, IEHP will provide transportation to a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the county where you live.
How do I request transportation?
Contact IEHP Transportation Call Center at 1-800-440-4347.
Will the drive wait with me?
No, the driver will not wait. Transportation will be provided as a roundtrip. You will need to contact the transportation provider to request a return pickup once you are ready.
Can I take my family members?
IEHP will provide transportation to an IEHP Member and one other passenger.
How much time is needed to request transportation?
IEHP will assist with transportation to the COVID-19 vaccine clinic in fewer than 5 business days. However, we cannot guarantee same-day requests.
Where can I learn about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines?
IEHP Members can learn more by visiting the IEHP website or the California Department of Health’s website. Members can also learn more about COVID-19 at the California Coronavirus Response website or the CDC’s website
At IEHP we understand your health concerns about the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19)
Signs and symptoms of COVID-19
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms, including:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Go to the hospital or seek emergency medical attention right away if you develop severe COVID-19 symptoms, including:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
What to do if you are feeling sick
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider the following actions:
- Get tested for COVID-19: It is free. IEHP will also pay for members who receive standard COVID-19 testing and doctor-ordered tests, no matter what type of test. Your doctor is required to bill IEHP directly for these tests.
- Visit your doctor or an urgent care center either in-person or telehealth access within 24 hours of symptoms starting.
- For IEHP members, if you can’t reach your doctor or if it’s after-hours, you can call IEHP’s 24-Hour Nurse Advice Line at 1-888-244-4347 or 711 for TTY users, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our trained nurses offer medical advice and, if needed, will connect you with a doctor via phone or video chat.
Facts about COVID-19 treatments
- Most COVID-19 treatments are pills that you take at home. COVID-19 medications are free in California. You don’t need to have insurance or be a U.S. citizen.
- COVID-19 medications work best when started as soon as possible, within the first 5-7 days of symptoms. If you think you may have COVID, don’t wait for symptoms to get worse.
- COVID-19 medications are safe and effective at stopping COVID-19 illness from getting serious. They can lower the risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 by half or more.
- COVID-19 medications may help you test negative sooner and may reduce the risk of long COVID symptoms.*
- COVID-19 medications are recommended for people 12 years and older who have certain health conditions or other common factors that increase risk. A doctor can tell you if you are eligible to receive COVID-19 medications and which type is best for you.
- COVID-19 medications are effective whether you are vaccinated or not.
- If you test positive for COVID-19, have symptoms, and meet the following criteria, you should seek treatment:
- You are 50 years old or older –OR–
- You are unvaccinated or not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations –OR–
- You have a health condition or other factors that increase risk. These include obesity, asthma, diabetes, lack of physical activity, smoking, mental health conditions such as depression, being of a racial/ethnic minority, and more. Learn more about medical conditions that increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Click here for more information on mental health and mood conditions.
* Early evidence suggests that the COVID-19 medication Paxlovid may decrease the risk of developing long COVID symptoms. These symptoms can last for weeks, months or years after a COVID-19 infection.
How to get tested for COVID-19
It’s important to know how and when to test for COVID-19. Testing can give you peace of mind, provide you with information to help you make decisions about your health and help slow the spread of the virus in our community.
Where to get tested for COVID-19
- Visit our link for more information: https://www.iehp.org/en/members/covid-19?target=covid-19-testing-sites
What if you test positive for COVID-19
- Self-isolate to avoid spreading the virus to others; click here for tips about isolation and precautions for people with COVID-19
- Immediately seek treatment options
How to get treatment
- Contact your doctor’s office
- Contact your pharmacy
- Visit a test-to-treat location
Test to Treat Program
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you can get tested, seen by a provider, and receive treatment for COVID-19 – all in one place at a Test to Treat site.
If you have a medical condition which makes you more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive treatments. Adults and Children over the age of 12 can receive treatments, but treatment must be started as soon as possible and within 5 days of symptom onset.
Click here for more information on the COVID-19 Test to Treat Program.
Walgreens Test to Treat Program
Select Walgreens pharmacies are now dispensing oral antivirals for the treatment of COVID-19. Eligible members must have a valid prescription from their healthcare provider. Walgreens offers a variety of delivery options, like same day or free 2-day delivery. Most prescriptions are eligible for Same Day Delivery.
Click here for more information.
FREE at-home COVID-19 tests
- Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order one free COVID-19 test kit, which includes four at-home tests. The tests are completely free. Click here to order your free at-home tests from USPS.
- Effective 2/1/22, Medi-Cal Members can receive at-home COVID-19 tests from a Medi-Cal enrolled pharmacy. California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) will cover up to 8 test kits per month per member. For information on which test kits are covered or if you need assistance with a prescription, please ask your Doctor or your Pharmacist.
- Medi-Cal Members will be reimbursed for at-home test kits purchased between March 11, 2021, and January 31, 2022, by DHCS the cost (with a receipt) using the process outlined here.
- San Bernardino County-facilitated testing sites will offer free at-home COVID-19 tests kits to people who live, work, or attend school in San Bernardino County (proof of residency or employment required). Click here to find a list of county-facilitated testing sites.
IEHP covers provider-ordered tests, regardless of whether it’s PCR, rapid, at-home, etc. If your doctor orders the test for you, IEHP will cover the cost of the test. Your provider is required to bill IEHP directly for these tests.
IEHP does NOT reimburse Members who choose to pay for COVID tests that are not ordered by a provider.
For information on COVID-19 testing sites in Riverside County, please visit the Riverside County Public Health website.
For information on COVID-19 testing sites in San Bernardino County, please visit the San Bernardino County COVID Testing Sites.
At IEHP, we want to make sure you have all the information you need to stay healthy during COVID-19. Below you will find resources and information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones during this time.
How vaccines build immunity
While the COVID-19 vaccines are relatively new - the technology and science behind the vaccines have been in development for decades. In the video below, we demonstrate how years of vaccine research and advanced technology allowed researchers and scientists worldwide to be prepared to develop an mRNA vaccine that could help fight the spread of a global infectious disease.
COVID-19: Home isolation tips
If you or someone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, there are necessary steps you can take to reduce the risk of it spreading to those you live with.
COVID-19: What to do when you're sick
IEHP Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Hansberger, is here to discuss what you need to do if you find yourself sick from COVID-19.
Face Mask Resources
Refer to the following resources for information on self isolation during COVID-19.
For IEHP DualChoice Members
A healthcare fraud alert has been issued in relation to COVID-19 complaints. Scammers are giving COVID-19 tests to Medicare Members in trade for personal details. They are reaching out to Medicare Members by sales calls, social media platforms, and door to door visits. The personal details taken may be used to falsely bill Federal health care programs and the COVID-19 test kits may cause harm to Members.
If you suspect COVID-19 fraud, call IEHP right away at:
Compliance Hotline: (866) 355-9038
Fax: (909) 477-8536
IEHP Compliance Officer
P.O. Box 1800
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91729-1800
Refer to the following websites/resources for more information on coronavirus (COVID-19).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Riverside County Public Health
San Bernardino Public Health
State of California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Portal
California Workplace Rights
Immigrant Eligibility for Public Programs during COVID-19
Protections for Housing and Utility Shutoff Order
Below you will find resources and information on local food pantries in your area.
Riverside County Pantries: A list of food pantries in Riverside County
San Bernardino County Pantries: A list of food pantries in San Bernardino County
Connect IE: A free website that provides community resources 24/7. It can connect you to housing services, job training's, food pantries and more.
High Desert Food Distribution:The High Desert is hosting a food distribution on the last Thursday of every month.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is the balance of the state of functioning of the brain and emotions and how that balance (or imbalance) affects behavior and thoughts.
What is stigma?
There is still too much stigma surrounding behavioral and mental health. Historically, “crazy” or “mad” folks have been ostracized from society. This has been due to ignorance about mental health. Unfortunately, there is still too much fear and mis-understanding in our communities about mental health. Many people suffer from mental disorders. And given the current COVID-19 crisis, many more people will suffer from mental illness.
- Too many people suffer in silence with mental illness
- The statistics before COVID were about 1 in 5 people were diagnosed with a mental illness in America
- Those numbers will increase now during the COVID-19 crisis
- Mental Health includes wellness, self-care, emotional regulations, relationship issues, and parenting among other facets of everyday life
- Mental well-being is important to everyone
- Mental illness can happen to anyone
Tips for staying mentally well during COVID-19
- Self-care is critical: listen to your warning signs of struggling with your emotions and doing the basic things like showering, eating, sleeping, and exercise
- Do something that brings you enjoyment every day: play with your children or spouse, take walks, read a book, do something creative
- Connect with someone outside your home every day via telephone or other video technology
- Eat nutritiously, do not binge or eat too many sweets
- Avoid alcohol
- Continue to see your therapist via tele-health
- Continue to take care of your physical, financial, and spiritual needs
- Be patient with yourself and others
- Readily forgive yourself
- Exercise, do yoga, go for a walk.
- Stay active, but do not overdue it
Remember that you are not alone.
Many people are struggling or will struggle with mood and anxiety issues during this time .
Reach out for help.
Mental health help is available and we want you to seek help.