Flu season is coming, and the newly updated COVID-19 vaccine came out following last year. We want to share some information about COVID-19 vaccinations in this month’s column. If you have additional questions on Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace, Social Security Retirement Benefit, Supplemental Security Income, or COVID/Flu vaccination, there are 3 ways you can reach us today:
Call our Senior Assistance Center at (English) 1-800-336-2722, (Korean) 1-800-582-4259, (Chinese Mandarin) 1-800-683-7427, (Cantonese) 1-800-582-4218, (Vietnamese) 1-800-582-4336
Mail: NAPCA Senior Assistance Center, 1511 3rd Avenue, Suite 914, Seattle, WA 98101
<Q1> I have already received the Updated Bivalent COVID-19 vaccine when it came out last year. Do I still need to get vaccinated for COVID-19?
Like the Flu virus, the virus that causes COVID-19 has changed over time. The bivalent vaccine which was available since September 2022 isn’t well matched to the currently circulating strains of COVID. A new vaccine has been developed and was approved by the FDA on Sep 11, 2023. The new vaccine provides better protection against the currently prevalent COVID-19 variant and is available for administration starting in late September 2023.
<Q2> Does everyone need to get the new COVID-19 vaccine?
CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter. Getting vaccinated every year is the best way to prevent serious illness requiring hospitalization. The people most at risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 are over age 65 or have health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease. The risk of hospitalization is pretty low for those under 18 years old. But if you are 65-74 that risk is 36 times higher. The older you are, the higher your risk is. So, if you are over age 65 or have an underlying condition, it is especially important to get the most updated vaccine. Note that young people should be considered to get vaccinated not only for themselves but also to protect the older adults who live with them.
<Q3> If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19. You may consider delaying your vaccine by at least 3 months from when your symptoms started or, if you had no symptoms, when you recovered from a positive test. People who already had COVID-19 and don’t get vaccinated after their recovery are more likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after their recovery.
<Q4> Do I need to wait after getting a Flu vaccine or another vaccine before getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
There is no recommendation waiting period between getting a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including a Flu vaccine, at the same visit. Possible side effects after getting vaccinated are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting vaccines.
<Q5> Does my health insurance cover the Flu and COVID-19 vaccines? What if I don’t have health insurance?
Yes, Medicare Part B and most state Medicaid cover Flu and COVID-19 vaccines at no cost. All Health Insurance Marketplace plans and most other private insurance plans cover these vaccines without charging out-of-pocket costs when provided by an in-network provider.
People who don’t have health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost can get a free vaccine from their local health centers; state, local, tribal, or territorial health department; and pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program. Your state health department can tell you where to go for free and low-cost vaccines, including community centers, schools, and religious centers.
National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of AANHPI older adults and their families. We operate a NAPCA Senior Assistance Center for Older Adults and Caregivers and is available in 5 different languages.