BATON ROUGE, La. – The first COVID-19 vaccines were given out in the state last week, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is encouraging its members and all Louisianians to get vaccinated as soon as they can.
Blue Cross members of both individual and employer health plans will be able to get a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved COVID-19 vaccine for $0 out of pocket. The federal government prepaid for COVID-19 vaccines through 2021 in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Blue Cross will cover the vaccine’s administration without any member cost-share (deductible, copay or coinsurance) on most health plans. Members of Medicare and Medicaid plans will also be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. If you have questions about vaccine coverage on your health plan, contact Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out in phases, based on people’s ages and health risks. It will likely take a few months before COVID-19 vaccines are widely available like the flu shot is. The Louisiana Department of Health has more information about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan on its website, www.ldh.la.gov.
Members who have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines should ask their healthcare providers or pharmacists for guidance, or visit the websites for the Louisiana Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or FDA to learn more about the vaccines.
“While the COVID-19 vaccines offer hope for broader immunity to end the pandemic, this is going to take time,” said Blue Cross Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephanie Mills. “That’s why it’s so important, especially through the holiday season and winter months, that we all take strong precautions to prevent getting or spreading the novel coronavirus. Until the vaccines have fully rolled out, this is the best thing we can do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities from this deadly virus.”
In recent weeks, Louisiana has reported an increase of COVID-19 cases, after numbers had dropped in early fall. Other states and countries are also reporting increased cases, and health officials warn a third wave of COVID-19 is happening.
The CDC is advising that the safest way to celebrate winter holidays is to avoid traveling and limit activities to only people who live with you because the novel coronavirus can spread easily even in small group settings. It’s also very important to take precautions including:
· Wear a face mask when you’re around people who do not live with you. The mask must cover your nose and mouth to be effective. Only take your mask off to eat or drink, and put it back on as soon as you are finished. Remember that Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide mandate that requires residents to wear face masks in grocery stores, shops and other public places.
· Keep at least six feet between yourself and others. This is especially important while you’re eating or drinking, since you’ll need to remove your face mask.
· Wash your hands often, and keep hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol with you to use when washing is not an option.
· Get your flu shot if you have not already. The height of flu season is usually in January or February, so getting the shot now will still protect you through that time. Like COVID-19, flu is a respiratory illness that spreads easily between people, but the shot is a safe and effective way to prevent it.
Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Emily Vincent shares tips to make your holidays healthy but still festive and meaningful in this video news release from Hometown Productions (04:29).
You can share information by posting Blue Cross’ #MaskUp graphics to your personal social media. 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.
You can visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos with the medical directors and others discussing COVID-19 prevention and other health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates on COVID-19 and other health topics.
For information on what Blue Cross is doing for members during COVID-19, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19.