BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- As the Omicron virus variant continues to spread, Louisiana health officials are reporting increases in COVID-19 diagnoses and hospitalizations. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana joins health officials in reminding Louisianians that the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is for everyone age 5 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine and for everyone age 16 and older to get a booster.
“We are seeing more COVID-19 cases than we have in recent weeks, and now we’re heading into the winter months, which are the peak season for respiratory illnesses to spread as people gather for the holidays and spend more time indoors because of colder weather,” said Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Jeremy Wigginton. “That’s why it is extremely important that you protect yourself and your family by getting the COVID-19 vaccine or booster if you have not already.”
While it appears that Omicron spreads more easily than earlier COVID-19 variants, the vaccines are proving highly effective against severe illness, Dr. Wigginton said. “As we saw in the fourth surge of COVID-19, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, people who were vaccinated had very strong protection against being hospitalized or dying from the virus. So far, it looks like this is the case with the Omicron variant, too,” he said. “And with boosters now recommended for everyone 16 and older, you can strengthen the protection you got from the original vaccine heading into the winter months.”
Blue Cross covers COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots 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 or 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.
Free Rides to Your COVID-19 Vaccine or Booster Appointment
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is sponsoring free ride programs for COVID-19 vaccine and booster 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.
And, Blue Cross is sponsoring a “Riding Toward Immunity” promotion with Blue Bikes, New Orleans’ bikeshare program. Through Dec. 31, riders can pedal past the pandemic by using the promotional codes SleevesUpNOLA1 and SleevesUpNOLA2 for free, 30-minute trips to and from their COVID-19 vaccine or booster appointments. The Blue Bikes free ride codes are only valid for trips to and from COVID-19 vaccine or booster sites located within the bikeshare program’s service area. Learn more and see a map of Blue Bikes locations at www.BlueBikesNOLA.com or follow Blue Bikes on social media @BlueBikesNOLA.
How to Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine or Booster
Health officials recommend everyone age 5 and older gets the COVID-19 vaccine and recommend everyone 16 and older gets a COVID-19 booster shot. Those who got the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster shot if it’s been two months or longer since their original COVID-19 vaccine. For those who got the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, booster shots should be six months or longer after they got the second COVID-19 vaccine.
You can call the State of Louisiana’s Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 for help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot 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.
The State of Louisiana is offering its Shot for 100 program through the end of December. Anyone age 5 or older who gets the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccine at a participating location can get $100. Visit ShotFor100.com for more information or to see a list of locations.
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 TikTok.
For information on what Blue Cross is doing in response to COVID-19, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19.