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News | March 23, 2021

Q&A: When, Where, and How Can I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

By TRICARE Communications

Have you heard the news? There are now three vaccines authorized and recommended for people in the U.S. to prevent COVID-19. That means more opportunities for you and your family to get a COVID-19 vaccine are on the way. All three vaccines are safe and effective, and may soon be available near you. How soon can you expect to get yours? That depends on the current vaccination phase where you live.
 
As you prepare to schedule your vaccination, you may have questions. Here are some answers about when, where, and how you can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
 
Question: Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine right now? 
Answer: As of now, COVID-19 vaccines are given based on tiers. When you’re eligible to get your vaccine depends on what tier you fall under. These tiers are determined by the Department of Defense (DoD) COVID-19 vaccination plan, which is based on COVID-19 recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here’s how the tiers are categorized:  
  • Tier 1A. This tier includes vaccinating health care workers, first responders, and residents of Armed Forces Retirement Homes. As military hospitals and clinics complete this tier, they’ll move to the following tiers.
  • Tier 1B. This tier includes select defense forces and beneficiaries age 75 years old and older. It also includes frontline essential workers, such as teachers, child care staff, and those who are involved in postal service, public transportation, as well as commissary and food service.
  • Tier 1C. This tier includes eligible beneficiaries age 65-74 and those ages 16-64 with increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, as defined by the CDC. This tier also includes some additional select military populations.
  • Tier 2. This tier includes any TRICARE beneficiaries not otherwise mentioned in the above tiers.
 
The phase that your vaccination site is in depends on vaccine supply and population. In a recent virtual COVID-19 town hall addressed by Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place and Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, Place reiterated the DoD’s commitment to making vaccines available for beneficiaries.
 
“When your tier comes up—no matter where you are in the United States, OCONUS (outside the continental United States), coming from OCONUS to the United States—when your tier comes up, you get the vaccine,” Place said.
 
To see a complete list of who is included in each tier, go to the TRICARE COVID-19 Vaccine page.
 
Question: Does my local military hospital or clinic have the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: It may. If you’re eligible for TRICARE, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine at any military hospital or clinic that offers it. Make sure you check with your local military hospital or clinic to see if it’s offering the vaccine. You aren’t required to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same military hospital or clinic that you get your routine care from. But you do need to be eligible for vaccination. Keep in mind, the availability of the vaccine may vary by location. So, check to see if it’s offered near you.
 
Question: Are there other places I can go to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: Yes. In addition to military hospitals and clinics, your other options for getting a vaccine include:  
Pharmacies that are part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program may vary by state or territory. Participating pharmacies may include TRICARE network pharmacies and non-network pharmacies. Want to know if your local pharmacy is part of the program? You can find a list of participating pharmacies on the CDC website.  
 
If you get the COVID-19 vaccine at a local or state health department vaccination site or a retail pharmacy, remember to provide proof of your vaccination to your primary care manager. This will ensure a record of your vaccination gets included in your medical records.  
 
Question: Does TRICARE cover the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: Yes. There’s no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine itself. However, there may be a cost based on your health plan for an office visit with a provider, or if you need follow-on care. Be sure to contact your TRICARE contractor if you have questions.
 
As you follow the news on COVID-19, make sure you do your part to slow the spread. Check with your local military hospital or clinic, pharmacy, or health department about COVID-19 vaccine availability. And protect yourself and others by continuing to take precautions and following CDC recommendations for when you’ve been fully vaccinated. Take command of your health, and get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available to you.  
 
Sign up for email alerts, and keep up with TRICARE and COVID-19 updates.

At the time of posting, this information is current. Visit www.cdc.gov or TRICARE COVID Guidance for the most current COVID-19 information.
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