BATON ROUGE – The combination of the more-infectious Delta variant spreading and the state’s below-average vaccination rate have pushed Louisiana into a fourth surge of COVID-19. This week, state health officials urged Louisianians to wear face masks in public places, even if they’re vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) issued similar guidance, stating face masks are important in states like Louisiana that are having higher rates of new COVID-19 cases.
“The Delta variant is much more likely to make people sick than the COVID-19 strains we’ve dealt with before,” said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Medical Director Dr. Larry Simon. “That’s why it’s a good precaution, even if you’re vaccinated, to mask up when you go to public places where you’re likely to be around people who have not had the vaccine.”
Wearing a face mask for added protection is especially important if you live with children younger than 12 or other people who cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine because of medical conditions, Dr. Simon said. He added that the best defense against getting sick or spreading COVID-19 to others is to get the vaccine.
“Delta is dangerous, and we’re running out of time to slow the spread. To build enough immunity in our community, we need everyone 12 and older who can to get the vaccine if you haven’t already,” Dr. Simon said.
Health officials have repeatedly stated that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and that getting the jab is the most effective way to prevent getting sick with the virus or spreading it to others.
Dr. Simon said he understands why some may be hesitant to roll up their sleeves because it’s normal to be concerned about a vaccine or medical treatment you’ve never had before. He advises anyone who has put off getting the COVID-19 vaccine to talk to their healthcare providers, get their questions answered and ask for guidance.
“Do not make this very important health decision based only on things you’re hearing and seeing in the news or online. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and you should make sure you have the facts,” Dr. Simon said. “And the fact is you are far more likely to get sick from COVID-19 than you are to have any bad side effects from the vaccine.”
Things to Know About Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine
Your vaccine is covered at no out-of-pocket cost. Members of individual and employer health insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid can get any FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine for $0. This no-cost coverage is included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which also allows uninsured patients to get the vaccine for $0. Blue Cross will cover the vaccine’s administration without any member cost-share (deductible, copay or coinsurance) on most health plans. If you have questions about vaccine coverage on your health plan, contact Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
You can call the State of Louisiana’s Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 for help scheduling an appointment. The hotline staff can help you find vaccine locations near you or connect you with clinicians who can answer your vaccine questions. Or, visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website to see a list of vaccine locations. You can search by parish to find a vaccine site near you, and you can see which types of vaccine are being given at different locations.
You can get free rides to and from vaccine appointments. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is sponsoring ride share programs statewide, and many community organizations offer similar programs. If you do not have a vehicle, are unable to drive or need transportation assistance, call 211 to get connected to programs in your area.
You can enter the State of Louisiana’s Shot At A Million drawing by July 31. Registration closes Saturday, July 31 for the State of Louisiana’s Shot At A Million $1 million grand prize drawing. State residents who have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine can enter.
Blue Cross has created interactive graphics for its social media that encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone can share or post these graphics to their personal social media and are asked to use the hashtag #GetTheFactsGetTheVax when doing so. Find and download the graphics at www.bcbsla.com/covid19. Blue Cross has also produced Spanish versions of the social graphics, which are available to download and share.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube page to see short videos on the COVID-19 vaccines and other health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and now, TikTok.
For information on what Blue Cross is doing in response to COVID-19, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19.