BATON ROUGE, La. – Following updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), state health officials announced third doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are now available to more Louisianians as a booster. This includes adults 65 and older, people with health conditions that put them at risk for severe COVID-19, and those who live or work in places with a high likelihood of exposure to the virus.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana will cover the COVID-19 booster at $0 out of pocket for eligible members of individual and employer health plans. Eligible members of Medicare and Medicaid plans or uninsured patients also can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine at no cost. This no-cost coverage is required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. If you have questions about vaccine coverage on your health plan, contact Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
“The COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective at preventing death, hospitalization and severe outcomes from COVID-19,” said Dr. Deirdre Barfield, Blue Cross vice president of Medical Management and senior medical director. “For people who are older or who have health conditions that put them at higher risk from COVID-19, the booster shot can strengthen that protection. Much like the boosters we get for childhood vaccines and other immunizations, the third COVID-19 shot helps your immune system be as strong as possible to fight off the virus.”
People who do not have health or age factors that put them at higher risk from COVID-19 build up stronger, longer-lasting immunity from the original COVID-19 vaccine, which effectively protects them from the virus, Dr. Barfield added.
“The best thing to do, if you’re not sure whether you should get a booster or if you have concerns about your immunity, is to talk with your healthcare provider,” Dr. Barfield said. “Your provider is familiar with your medical history and can give you guidance based on your personal situation.”
Expanded COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Recommendation
The expanded booster recommendation is only for people who have gotten two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, a booster of the Moderna vaccine is only recommended for people with health conditions that cause moderate to severe immunity issues. There is no booster recommendation for people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are studying data on the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and may soon issue broader booster recommendations for people who got those.
Health officials recommend the following people get a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine if it has been six months or longer since they got the second shot:
• Adults 65 and older
• Adults 18 and older with health conditions that put them at high risk for severe COVID-19
• Adults 18 and older who live or work in places that put them at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure
In August, federal and state health officials recommended the COVID-19 vaccine booster for people who had already gotten two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and who have certain health conditions that affect their immunity. This includes people who:
• Are going through cancer treatment
• Had an organ transplant or stem cell transplant and are taking medicine to suppress their immune systems
• Have HIV or other immune-suppressing health conditions
• Take certain types of prescription drugs that could lower their immunity
Visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website, www.ldh.la.gov, to see the latest updates and information about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including boosters.
Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine Booster
• 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. State health officials recommend that if you are getting a booster vaccine, you make an appointment to be sure the site has enough supply to give you a third shot.
• 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.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel 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.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We were recognized in 2019 and 2020 as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.