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Your top vaccine questions, answered

Eligibility is now open to all Iowa adults. But there are some things you should know before scheduling an appointment.

IOWA, USA — To find a COVID vaccine provider near you, click here or text VACCINE to 515-457-1026

Local 5 is answering the top coronavirus vaccine questions as all adults in Iowa are now eligible to get the shot.

Individuals 16 years and older can get the Pfizer vaccine while those 18 and older are eligible for the Moderna vaccine.

Essential workers are being prioritized for the single-shot Johnson & Johnson first, and once 70% of that population is vaccinated, those 18 and older can receive it.

Remember: availability and priority will vary by county.

Do I need another booster shot 6 months after my second dose?

This is a great question. However, there isn't an answer for it, yet. 

New research released April 6 says immunity from the Moderna vaccine lasts at least six months. Pfizer released similar information about its vaccine the week before. 

Both Pfizer and Moderna are working to update their vaccines or possibly create another booster shot just in case it's needed against variants. 

Can undocumented immigrants access the vaccine? 

Yes, and it's because folks don't have to show proof of citizenship in order to get the vaccine. 

RELATED: A closer look at Des Moines organization serving Iowa's immigrant population

Why are some Iowans experiencing vaccine hesitation? 

While many Iowans are thrilled about the vaccine, seeing it as the next step in putting the pandemic behind us, not everyone feels the same. There’s still a lot of hesitation about the vaccine, especially in rural counties.

Shelley Bickel, administrator of Wayne County Public Health, sees that firsthand.

“We are in a different part of the state, so the thinking down here is totally different,” said Bickel. “I don’t know if we can ever educate the people who don’t believe [coronavirus is real].”

Bickel said while many Iowans around 50 years and older have been receptive, the “majority” of younger Wayne County residents see the vaccine as strictly a personal choice and not a community effort to protect everyone around them.

“If I was to think about it too much, it would be devastating,” said Bickel. “We are just working to vaccinate the Iowans who want it.“

Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 35% of Americans who live in rural areas “will not” or “probably will not” take the vaccine.

Do I need to be a United States citizen to get the vaccine?

No. You are not required to show proof of citizenship to schedule an appointment or get the shot.

All Iowans 16 and up are eligible to receive a vaccine, but age is a factor in which brand of vaccine you get.

As mentioned above: 

  • Individuals 16 years and older can get the Pfizer vaccine
  • Those 18 and older are eligible for the Moderna vaccine
  • Essential workers are being prioritized for the single-shot Johnson & Johnson first, and once 70% of that population is vaccinated, those 18 and older can receive it

Why can it be easier to access vaccine appointments in other counties than where I live? 

Access to a nearby vaccine appointment can vary from county to county. Often times the reason for that can be a particular vaccine allotment. 

Disparities can lead to difficulty booking an appointment or longer drive times once an appointment is secured. 

Leslie Herron owns a pharmacy in Adel. Demand for her 100 vaccines a week allotment remains high.

“We open 100 appointments, and they're gone in less than 30 minutes,” Herron said.

She has seen patients come from as far away as Iowa City. The distance people are willing to travel speaks to the urgency many are feeling to get a vaccine.

Using VaccineFinder.org, Local 5 compared vaccine availability between Des Moines and Marshalltown. The website showed Des Moines has 40 available appointment sites in a 10-mile radius compared to Marshalltown’s four sites. 

To close the gap, Local 5 had to expand the radius around Marshalltown to 50 miles.

“I think they've worked hard trying to get vaccine, I get phone calls and information about people needing and wanting it,” said Pat Thompson, Marshall County Public Health Director. 

Hy-Vee, one of the state’s largest vaccine providers, is holding large vaccination events in various communities across the state including in Indianola on April 7.

Herron, meanwhile, is working with her local school district to use school parking lots to hold drive-through events once she can get her hands on more doses.

“Right now with the allocation we're getting, we're underwhelmed, we could handle a whole lot more. And I know that day is coming. As soon as it comes, we're ready for it,” she said.

Do I need insurance?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine is free and you do not need insurance to get it. You should not be charged out-of-pocket costs or receive a bill from your medical provider or vaccination facility.

This applies to anyone who has private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare or those without insurance.

If you were charged for the vaccine, contact your insurance immediately. If they don't fix it, file a complaint with the Iowa Insurance Division.

Some vaccine providers will ask if you have an insurance card at your appointment. This is they can get reimbursed for giving you the vaccine.

Again, it's ok if you don't have insurance. You will still be able to get your vaccine shot, free of charge. The federal government is paying for the shots.

RELATED: Every adult in Iowa now eligible for COVID vaccine | Here's how and where to schedule an appointment

RELATED: Latino leaders discuss ways to close vaccination gap in their community

What questions do I have to answer before getting the vaccine?

There is a series of 10 questions set up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of a pre-vaccination checklist.

It helps them determine is there any reason you shouldn't get the shot.

Some of the questions include:

  • If you're feeling sick today.
  • if you've receive any other vaccines in the last few weeks
  • if you're allergies to certain products or items

If you answer "yes" to any of the questions, it doesn't necessarily mean you can't get the vaccine.

You will simply be prompted with more questions to answer so the provider can get more information. You need to answer the questions truthfully.

At the end of the questionnaire, you'll be asked to attest your answers are honest and then sign your name.

Have a vaccine question for Local 5? Text it to 515-457-1026 or fill out the form below!