FAQ: What to Know About HIV & COVID-19 Vaccines

Apicha Community Health Center Feb 19, 2021  

Apicha CHC iStock-1296671017

As of February 19, New Yorkers with HIV are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are HIV-positive and haven't gotten the vaccine yet, it is strongly encouraged that you do so. In this blog, we're going to cover everything you need to know about HIV and COVID-19 vaccines. 

If you're HIV-positive, you should get vaccinated

People with HIV are a priority for vaccination, since many have HIV-related comorbidities that increase risk of severe COVID-19 . They may also face socioeconomic conditions that may increase risk of COVID-19 exposure.

The vaccines are safe and effective. The two authorized COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing COVID-19. In clinical trials, the vaccines were more than 94% effective at protecting trial participants from symptoms of COVID-19.

Protecting communities of color from HIV & COVID-19

HIV and COVID-19 disproportionately affect communities of color. In NYC, 86% of people with HIV diagnosed with COVID-19 are Black or Latino, and these groups have greater mortality associated with HIV and with COVID-19. Furthermore, in NYC, Black and Latino people are less likely to have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Counsel patients with HIV, particularly those who are Black or Latino, that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and provide critical protection for their health.

How to get the vaccine

You can schedule a vaccine appointment through the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health Department) at vax4nyc.nyc.gov, NYC Health + Hospitals and NYS. New Yorkers can find a vaccination site and make an appointment at vaccinefinder.nyc.gov. If you need assistance making an appointment at a City-run site, you can call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692). Please note vaccine supplies are limited, but be sure to check regularly as new appointments will be added as more vaccine becomes available.

How does the vaccine affect people with HIV?

HIV care providers do not need to clear their patients to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are only contraindicated by history of allergic reaction to the vaccine, one of its components or polysorbate. Clinical trials established the general safety and efficacy of these vaccines, but only the Moderna trial included people with HIV.

Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, please note we lack sufficient data on vaccine safety or effectiveness specific to people with HIV and people who are immunocompromised. Because we do not know whether the vaccine will work as well for HIV-positive individuals, you should be especially cautious to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19, even after vaccination.

So, should I still get vaccinated?

Yes! Immunocompromised people may be at increased risk of severe COVID-19. While New Yorkers should limit activities outside the home, no one should forgo regular HIV care or other necessary care. Make sure you are screened for viral load and CD4 count at least every six months and have regular opportunities to discuss any barriers to care. HIV care clinics can provide some care through telehealth or video chat. As always, speak to your medical provider about any concerns. 

What you need to schedule an appointment

Patients need to bring proof that they live in NYS or NYC and are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are eligible because you have HIV and are being vaccinated by your health care provider, your medical records can serve as proof of eligibility. Otherwise, when scheduling an appointment, patients will need to complete a certification confirming you have an underlying health condition that makes you eligible for vaccination. You do not need to state which health condition or provide any other evidence to demonstrate which condition you have. For more information on proof of eligibility, visit nyc.gov/covidvaccine.

On the day of your appointment

If you're not feeling well on the day of your appointment, you should reschedule. Be sure to wear a face covering when traveling to and from your vaccination site and while at your appointment. As mentioned above, you need to bring proof that you live in NYS or NYC and are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

After your vaccine appointment

COVID-19 vaccine is very effective at preventing symptoms and dangerous complications of COVID-19. However, we do not yet know how long protection from the vaccine lasts or whether you could still spread the virus to other people. Therefore, even after vaccination, you will need 2 to continue to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you are sick or recently tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • Wash your hands often.

Per CDC guidelines, individuals who are considered fully vaccinated (has received 2 doses and it has been more than or equal to 2 weeks since the last dose and within 3 months from the last ) are not be required to quarantine even if they are exposed to COVID-19 positive individuals. 

Learn more about COVID-19, vaccine, and more

If you'd like to learn more about COVID-19, vaccines, or have other questions, you can use the resources below:

How Apicha CHC can help you
Apicha CHC is currently offering COVID-19 testing and limited vaccinations. If you are a patient of Apicha CHC's and eligible, we will contact you to schedule a vaccination when we have available doses.  Please make sure to update your demographic information so that we can contact you when the vaccine is available. You can read more about our services and COVID-19 here. 

Ready to take action about your health?
 request an appointment

Subscribe For Updates

What's the Difference Between Nonbinary & Genderqueer?

What's the Difference Between Nonbinary & Genderqueer?

Understanding different identities can be difficult, but it's also incredibly important. And for...
Early Signs of HIV

Early Signs of HIV

Early HIV is the beginning stage of HIV disease, right after HIV infection occurs.
How to Support Someone Who is Transitioning

How to Support Someone Who is Transitioning

Making the choice to transition is a big milestone. Whether it’s your partner, a friend, or anyone...
Gay Sex & Primary Care: What You Need To Know

Gay Sex & Primary Care: What You Need To Know

  Some of the many ways Apicha Community Health Center (CHC) has served New York City’s LGBT...
Transgender Sexual Health Guide: Safer Sex

Transgender Sexual Health Guide: Safer Sex

When it comes to sex, there’s a serious lack of resources available to transgender people that...
First Openly Trans and Female Four-Star Officer and Admiral of the USPHS Commissioned Corps

First Openly Trans and Female Four-Star Officer and Admiral of the USPHS Commissioned Corps

On Tuesday, October 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made history by...
What's on the Ballot? General Election November 2021

What's on the Ballot? General Election November 2021

November is coming up, which means it's voting season! Voting is an essential part of every...
Resources for National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Resources for National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Each year, September 27 marks National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day that highlights the...
How to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in 2021

How to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in 2021

Each year, from September 15 to October 15, Hispanic and Latinx communities in the United States...
7 More COVID-19 Vaccine Myths Debunked

7 More COVID-19 Vaccine Myths Debunked

It's more important than ever to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to protect yourself, your...