When Covid-19 first arrived on the scene, nobody could have known how long it would last. In fact, when we started our Covid survival guide for seniors last March, we had no idea that we'd still be writing about it near Valentine's Day this year. We do take comfort in the arrival of the Covid vaccine as health care agencies roll it out to the public. Hopefully, this guide will help you have more information on how this rollout affects seniors.
Vaccine Rollout History
The most recent vaccine rollout seems like a long time ago, but many still remember it. The first polio vaccine was introduced in 1955, and we talked to several family members who recall what that was like. One described it as almost a holiday because people had such fear of the disease. Several others reminisced about receiving the vaccine on a sugar cube and thinking of it as a big treat. One wanted to get back in line and have another one! Either way, the public, especially parents, felt a huge relief that their children could receive the polio vaccine. These days, standard children's vaccinations include the polio vaccine, and most parents hardly give it a second thought.
When Can Seniors Get the Covid Vaccine?
Since distribution of the Covid vaccine has largely been left to states, the answer to this question can vary. In Virginia, those 65 and older and certain frontline workers can get the vaccine now based on a phased plan. The government has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer doses to those in nursing homes and other long term care at no cost to them. Those seniors 65 or older who do not live in a care facility should check with their local health department to find out how to get vaccinated. You can also use the online tool to find out when/where you can receive the Covid vaccine.
In most cases, you will have to register with your local health department to get an appointment. Below you can find links to local health departments to help you. Each will have a form to fill out to register.
Should Seniors Get the Vaccine?
Since seniors have a higher risk of complications and fatalities from Covid-19, the CDC recommends that they get the vaccine as soon as they can. If you have concerns about side effects or how the vaccine may interact with other medications/underlying conditions, please contact your primary health care provider for advice. He or she can also direct you to the best avenue to receive the vaccine and may be able to administer it to you right in the office.
Important: the current vaccines will require two doses, and it will still take time to develop full immunity. You must wear a mask during this time.
Who Pays for the Covid Vaccine?
From the AARP:
"AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. But the CDC says vaccine providers may still charge a fee for giving someone a shot. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said the vaccine will be administered free of charge to Medicare beneficiaries, with no copays. Some health insurance companies have also announced that there will be no out-of-pocket costs for policyholders.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, any COVID-19 vaccination fees will be covered by insurance companies or by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration Provider Relief Fund. There are already reports of scammers purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams."
As with many government programs, finding information presented in a clear, concise way can be difficult. You should direct any questions to your medical professional. We hope this guide has been a helpful source of Covid vaccine information!