BATON ROUGE, La. – Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine authorization to include children ages 5-11. Yesterday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommended everyone age 5 and older get the COVID-19 vaccine. Following that recommendation, the State of Louisiana announced the Pfizer vaccine is now available in state to anyone age 5 or older. Parents can now begin making appointments for their children’s vaccines.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana covers the COVID-19 vaccine at $0 out of pocket for all eligible members of individual and employer health plans, including newly eligible children ages 5 to 11. 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.
Previously, the Pfizer vaccine was available to people ages 12 and older. The other two COVID-19 vaccines being given in the U.S., Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are currently available to people ages 18 and older.
“Expanding Pfizer’s vaccine authorization to include younger children is great news for those of us, including me, with children who were previously too young to get the shot and have that protection from COVID-19,” said Dr. Tracy Lemelle, a pediatrician who is one of Blue Cross’ medical directors. “The clinical trials showed the Pfizer vaccine was safe for younger children. And like we’ve seen in adults and children 12 and older, the vaccine is very effective at preventing death, hospitalization and severe illness from COVID-19.”
Dr. Lemelle said parents with children in this age group should make appointments for them to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to lower their risk of getting or spreading the virus. “We’re heading into the winter months and the holiday season, which are peak times for illnesses to spread,” she said. “Get your children vaccinated now so they have time to build up immunity and be protected from COVID-19.”
If parents have questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, they should speak with their children’s pediatrician, Dr. Lemelle added. “It’s very normal for you to be concerned about getting your children a vaccine they’ve never had before, and your pediatrician is the perfect resource to answer your questions and give you advice on what’s best for your family’s personal situation,” Dr. Lemelle said. “Have that conversation with the pediatrician – do not just make your decision based on what you’re hearing from other people or seeing posted on social media, which may not even be true.”
During the recent surge of COVID-19 in Louisiana, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, record numbers of children became severely ill, were hospitalized or died from the virus. Getting the vaccine lowers children’s’ risks from COVID-19.
“By having everyone who can get the COVID-19 vaccine, you’re lowering your whole family’s risk,” Dr. Lemelle said. “That’s especially important if you have children who are younger than 5 or other family members who cannot get the vaccine. Your immunity helps protect them.”
Scheduling Your Child’s COVID-19 Vaccine
You can call the State of Louisiana’s Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 for help scheduling your child’s COVID-19 vaccine 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. Keep in mind that only the Pfizer vaccine is available for anyone age 5 to 17, so you’ll need to find a site giving that vaccine to make an appointment for your child.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is sponsoring free ride programs for COVID-19 vaccine appointments statewide. Many community organizations offer similar programs. If you do not have a vehicle, are unable to drive or have other barriers to getting your COVID-19 vaccine, 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 vaccine and other health topics. Subscribe to the channel to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates about COVID-19 and current health topics. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
For more information, 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 have been recognized for the past three years 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.