Ask the Expert: The COVID-19 Vaccine


Dr. Sharon Brangman
Tim Farrell, MD
Sharon Brangman, MD
Chair, Department of Geriatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University

If you feel like the news you read about COVID-19 vaccines seems to change daily, you’re not alone. We asked Sharon Brangman, MD, to share her expertise with us. 

Q. What causes COVID-19?

A. The SARS-CoV2 virus causes COVID-19. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can cause serious illness and even death. It is s easy to get and has spread worldwide.

Q. Why should I get vaccinated?

A. Getting vaccinated lowers your risk of getting COVID-19. If you do become infected, being vaccinated means you are less likely to get very sick, be hospitalized, or die. Staying up to date on vaccines is the best way to protect yourself and others. 

Q. Which COVID-19 vaccines are available?

A. As of October 2023, there are three available vaccines in the United States. The FDA has provided an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax 2023-2024 updated vaccines.

Q.  As an older adult, which vaccine should I get?

A.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults receive one dose of the 2023-2024 updated Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax vaccines. None of the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines is preferred over another.   

People who are immunocompromised may need additional doses of the 2023-2024 updated COVID-19 vaccine. If you are immunocompromised, you should talk to your healthcare professional about additional updated doses.

Q. How much will the vaccine cost?

A. The vaccine is currently available for free. All shots are free, whether they are the initial shots or the booster shots. All FDA-authorized vaccines are covered under Medicare at no cost to you. People with Medicaid, private health insurance, or no health insurance also receive the vaccine for free.

Q. Where can I get vaccinated?

A. You can contact your own healthcare provider or search for vaccination locations near you. You can also text your zip code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find COVID-19 vaccine locations. Help is available in Spanish and other languages.

If you or someone you care for has difficulty going to a vaccination site, in-home vaccinations may be available. Medicare recipients can call 1-800-MEDICARE/1-800-633-4227 (TTY 1-877-486-2048) for more information. The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) hotline is also available at 1-888-677-1199.


Last Updated October 2023

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