BATON ROUGE – Now that the COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone 16 and older, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana wants to help as many people as possible get their shot. The insurer is teaming up with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana to offer vaccine education, outreach and resources to Hispanic communities.
“At Blue Cross, we are constantly working to make sure all communities have equitable access to healthcare,” said Rod Teamer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s Director of Diversity Programs and Business Development. “This is especially important with the current pandemic. We want to make sure everyone who can is able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Rolling up our sleeves is how we will build more immunity so we can safely get back to the things and the people we love.”
Through their outreach, Blue Cross and the chamber will address unique issues that affect Hispanic Louisianians’ ability or willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The organizations want to make sure everyone knows the facts and is able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Hispanic residents and other minorities are at a higher risk for getting COVID-19, dying from it or having severe complications. There are some factors that specifically affect Hispanic Americans’ risks. These include:
“The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana is proud to join this partnership to engage and inform the Hispanic community on the importance of vaccination and COVID-19 up to date information. The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the Hispanic community has deep roots which need to be erased to build more equitable communities moving forward. Access to healthcare has been one of the focus areas of our organization and this is a great opportunity to work together towards that goal,” said Mayra E. Pineda, President and CEO, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana.
Blue Cross and the chamber are creating Spanish language content about the COVID-19 vaccine to explain how the vaccine was developed, why it is safe and effective and how you can sign up for a vaccine. These include fliers, radio clips, videos and social media content.
Because lack of transportation prevents many people who would otherwise sign up from getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the organizations are sharing information about programs that offer residents free rides to and from vaccine appointments. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation sponsored a ride program in Baton Rouge, in partnership with the East Baton Rouge Mayor-President’s office, and sponsors the Ride United Vaccine Access Campaign in partnership with United Way of Louisiana.
At Blue Cross, the recently formed Hispanic Employee Resource Group (ERG) is assisting with this outreach effort. The ERG is working to develop a network of Blue Cross employees with diverse experiences, backgrounds and knowledge to promote the cultural diversity and professional development. The group is helping identify the health challenges Hispanic Louisianians may be facing, particularly around the COVID-19 vaccine. The ERG is sharing ideas and resources to make vaccine information available to more people.
“As Louisianians, employees of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and members of the Hispanic community, our Hispanic Americans Employee Resource Group is committed to helping remove all barriers preventing equitable access of COVID-19 vaccination to Hispanics in Louisiana,” said Anselmo Rodríguez, chair of the Blue Cross Hispanic Americans ERG.
The partnership with the Hispanic Chamber is part of the insurer’s ongoing efforts to help get as many people as possible vaccinated. Blue Cross has also partnered with the Baton Rouge and New Orleans chapters of 100 Black Men. The groups are advocating for equitable access to vaccination locations in underserved and minority communities. They are meeting with community leaders and healthcare providers, helping coordinate events, providing resources and sponsoring mass vaccination events.
Blue Cross also has joined the Baton Rouge Health District and its member organizations in a COVID Safe outreach campaign. This campaign features Louisiana healthcare providers sharing their COVID-19 vaccination experiences (in English and Spanish) to urge everyone to feel comfortable getting immunized when they can.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its affiliates, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, joined a nationwide effort to be community connectors in healthcare and raise awareness about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.
Blue Cross and 100 Black Men to Host Educational Facebook Live Event April 26
To educate Louisianians about the COVID-19 vaccines, Blue Cross and 100 Black Men are hosting virtual events. Representatives of both organizations will share vaccination facts and answer participants’ questions. The second joint broadcast of A Candid Conversation About the COVID-19 Vaccine, a Facebook Live event, will be Monday, April 26 at 6 p.m.
Paula Shepherd, vice president of Benefit Operations Division - Claims Operations and leader of the African American ERG at Blue Cross, and Dr. Max Madhere, a physician and executive member of 100 Black Men -- Baton Rouge, will discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 vaccine in minority communities.
About the COVID-19 Vaccine
Visit the Louisiana Department of Health website to see a current list of COVID-19 vaccine locations. The state has set up a COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline - 1-855-453-0774. Call that number to get help scheduling a vaccine appointment, getting a ride to an appointment or finding vaccine sites near you. You can also speak to medical professionals to get answers to your vaccine questions.
Members of individual and employer health plans, Medicare and Medicaid plans can get the COVID-19 vaccine for $0 out of pocket. The federal government prepaid for U.S. Food & Drug Administration-approved COVID-19 vaccines through 2021. This coverage is included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act 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 will not be asked any questions about your immigration status when getting your COVID-19 vaccine, and you do not need to be a U.S. citizen to get the vaccine.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos with medical directors and other experts discussing COVID-19 prevention 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 on COVID-19 and other health topics.
For more on what Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is doing for customers during 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.