Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Vaccine
To jump to the answer you need about COVID-19, click on the question that applies to you below. All questions and answers follow this Quick Reference section.
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
Updated COVID-19 Bivalvent Vaccine
Can I get the updated COVID-19 bivalvent vaccine?
I didn't get vaccinated for COVID-19. Can I get the updated bivalvent booser?
Why do I need a COVID-19 primary vaccine series first before getting the updated bivalent booster? Aren’t they more on target than the original monovalent vaccines?
Why should I get a COVID-19 bivalent booster?
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe even with their rapid development?
How long does protection from a COVID-19 vaccine last?
Do I need to wait after getting a flu vaccine or another vaccine before getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster?
I already had COVID-19 and recovered. Do I need to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Should I get an updated COVID-19 bivalent booster?
Can I get the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine?
If I’m pregnant or planning to become pregnant, can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Where can children get the vaccine?
Has COVID-19 impacted my medical costs or coverage?
COVID-19 Testing & Quarantine FAQs
When should I get tested for COVID-19?
What if my test result is positive?
What if my test result is negative?
How long do I need to isolate, quarantine, or take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
COVID-19 Symptoms & Prevention
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?
How can I prevent getting sick?
How can I reduce my risk of serious illness?
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
A: A single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 bivalent vaccine is now recommended and available for anyone 6 months old and older. When you can receive the bivalent vaccine depends on age, health status, what vaccine you received previously, and how long ago you received your last dose. >> Learn more.
A: No. You must complete a COVID-19 vaccine primary series at least two months before you can get a bivalent booster.
A: The bivalent boosters aren’t a primary series. They are currently designed to be used as booster shots. This means they’ve only been studied in previously vaccinated people. The bivalent vaccines have the original COVID-19 strain like the initial vaccine, and the BA.4/BA.5 omicron COVID-19 strains, for broader protection against COVID-19. >> Learn more
A: The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, or death wanes over time. This is especially true for those over 65 years and people who have certain medical conditions
. A booster dose increases the immune response. This improves protection
against getting a serious COVID-19 infection, being hospitalized, or dying.
Getting your vaccine also protects the health of the people around you. This is especially true for those who are at increased risk of severe illness
from COVID-19. >> Learn more
A: Although COVID-19 vaccines became available rapidly, all vaccine development steps were taken to ensure COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness. >> Learn more.
A: Scientists are continuing to monitor how long COVID-19 vaccine protection lasts.
Studies show that the original COVID-19 vaccine protection against the virus may decrease over time
. CDC recommends everyone age 5 years and older get an updated COVID-19 bivalent booster after completing their primary vaccination series. >> Learn more
A: You can get a COVID-19 vaccine bivalent booster at the same visit. This includes the flu vaccine and other indicated vaccines. >> Learn more
A: You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve already had COVID-19. Getting sick with COVID-19 offers some protection from future illness with COVID-19. This is called natural immunity. The level of protection people get from having COVID-19 depends on:
- The severity of their illness
- The time since their infection
- Their age
No current tests can reliably determine if you’re protected from infection. >> Learn more
A: You can get an updated COVID-19 bivalent booster if:
>> Learn more
- You’re 5 years of age and older,
- You’ve completed your COVID-19 vaccine primary series, and
- It’s been 2 or more months since your last COVID-19 vaccine dose. This means either your primary series or a booster dose.
A: Yes. The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is available under a Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization (FDA-EUA) as a primary series. This is to prevent COVID-19 disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 in those 12 years of age and older. It’s also available as a booster dose and in limited circumstances. Interested in getting the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine or any other COVID-19 vaccine? Contact your primary care manager or military hospital or clinic for availability. >> Learn more
A: Yes. The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. You may want to have a conversation with your doctor about the COVID-19 vaccine. While such a conversation might be helpful, it isn’t required before vaccination. >> Learn more
A: COVID-19 vaccination with a primary series is now recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have COVID-19 vaccines available for those 6 months of age and older. >> Learn more
A: Military hospitals and clinics who see pediatric patients have the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. This is available whether or not your child is enrolled. Children who see a civilian provider and don’t want to go to a military hospital or clinic should contact their civilian provider. Also, civilian pharmacies might not administer the vaccine to those 3 years of age and under. We recommend to call ahead to make sure the vaccine is available for this age group.
A: There’s no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine itself. But there may be a cost based on your health plan for an office visit with a provider, or if you need follow-on care. >> Learn more
TRICARE covers the use of investigational drugs for the treatment of serious or life-threatening cases of COVID-19. These drugs don’t apply to drugs given under the TRICARE Pharmacy Program. This coverage is temporary during the national health emergency due to the pandemic.
TRICARE has waived the three-day prior hospital stay requirement before a skilled nursing facility admission. This waiver is temporary during the national health emergency due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 Testing & Quarantine FAQs
A: You should get tested for COVID-19:
>> Learn more
- If you have symptoms, test immediately.
- Wait at least 5 full days after your exposure before testing if you were exposed to COVID-19 and don’t have symptoms. If you test too early, you may be more likely to get an inaccurate result.
- If you’re in certain high-risk settings and you need to test as part of a screening testing program.
- Consider testing before contact with someone at high risk for severe COVID-19.
A: Any positive COVID-19 result means the test detected the virus.
If you have a positive result:
- Isolate for at least 5 days.
- Monitor your symptoms.
>> View testing protocols.
A: If you have a negative result:
- While the test didn’t detect the virus, it doesn’t rule out that you could have the infection. The FDA recommends repeat testing following a negative result. This is if you used an at-home COVID-19 antigen test, or received a Point of Care COVID-19 test at a clinic or doctor’s office. This applies whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Do you have symptoms? Test again 48 hours after the first negative test for a total of at least two tests.
- Do you believe you were exposed to COVID-19, but you don’t have symptoms? Test again 48 hours after the first negative test. Then 48 hours after the second negative test, for a total of at least three tests.
Learn more at Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19
or visit the FDA.
A: You can use the CDC Quarantine and Isolation Calculator
to determine the steps you need to take.
A: TRICARE will cover your COVID-19 test
and may waive the cost of the office visit if a TRICARE-authorized provider deems your test medically necessary. The provider can decide you need a test based on your symptoms, exposure risk, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To find a TRICARE-authorized provider who can perform a COVID-19 test, use the Find a Doctor
tool. You can also reach out to your local military hospital or clinic
directly regarding the availability of COVID-19 testing.
A: TRICARE covers the cost of COVID-19 at-home tests that are both approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) (which includes tests approved under Emergency Use Authorization) and ordered by a TRICARE-authorized provider for a medically necessary purpose. For example, you’re showing COVID-19 symptoms or have known or suspected close contact with a known infected person.
At this time, TRICARE doesn’t have authorization to reimburse COVID-19 at-home tests outside of this guideline. These tests are also known as self-tests or over-the-counter tests. This means if you buy an at-home test for any reason at retailers or pharmacies without a health care provider’s authorization, TRICARE won’t cover the cost of the test. Want to learn more about you have other options to get tested? >> Learn more.
A: The CDC recommends that you test for COVID-19 if you have COVID-19 symptoms
. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms of COVID-19
. If you come into close contact
with someone who has COVID-19, you should also get tested to check for infection. You should test at least five days after you’ve had close contact with someone with the virus. Check the CDC website
for further guidance on who should get a test and who doesn’t need a test.
Keep in mind, whether you test positive or negative for COVID-19, you should take steps to protect yourself and others
. And follow CDC’s recommendations
A: TRICARE will only cover tests that a TRICARE-authorized provider determines are medically necessary.. This means TRICARE doesn’t cover tests that you may need to return to work, school, travel
, or for other similar reasons. You should check with your employer, local or state public health authorities, or other party that’s requiring the test for guidance and possible coverage or reimbursement if there’s a cost. You can also reach out to your TRICARE contractor
if you have questions about testing coverage.
For more on COVID-19 testing and getting care, review guidance on the TRICARE website
and CDC website
. Remember, get up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines by finding a vaccine or a booster
near you. By taking the proper precautions, you can help keep you and others safe.
COVID-19 Symptoms & Prevention
A: You can learn about COVID-19 symptoms at the CDC
A: The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses. But different viruses causes each. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. The flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. >> Learn more
A: You can wear a mask to protect yourself and others. Masking is a critical public health tool. Remember that any mask is better than no mask. >> Learn more
A: COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying. As with vaccines for other diseases, vaccines protect you best when they’re up to date.
The CDC recommends that everyone ages 5 years and older get the primary series of COVID-19 vaccine. It also recommends everyone ages 12 years and older also get a booster shot. >> Learn more.
Are you at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19? Your doctor may recommend antiviral medication for you. Contact your doctor or a “Test to Treat” site as soon as possible after a positive test. Find a Test-to-Treat site