All Louisianians ages 12 and up are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Get vaccinated as soon as you can to take your best shot at ending the pandemic and help build more immunity in our community.
Visit the Louisiana Department of Health website to see a current list of vaccine locations. Nonprofits and local organizations around the state are offering free rides to and from vaccine sites. If transportation is a challenge for you, call the statewide 211 network to ask about programs near you.
Things to Know About Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine:
Get the vaccine that’s available to you soonest. There are three types of COVID-19 vaccines being given in Louisiana. The Pfizer vaccine is available to people ages 12 and older, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available to people ages 18 and older. All three vaccines were reviewed under the same thorough, scientific process before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized them to be given to patients. And, all three were found safe and effective at preventing deaths and severe outcomes from COVID-19. The main difference is the dose amount – Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots to get maximum protection, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single shot. Unless your healthcare provider has advised you to get a specific vaccine type because of age, allergies or other concerns, get whichever shot you can. The FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine are available under emergency use authorization. Those vaccine makers are also applying for full FDA approval, which could happen later this year.
You must make an appointment for your vaccine unless told otherwise. You can find a list of COVID-19 vaccine sites on the Louisiana Department of Health website. If you go with a group to get vaccines, either to a mass vaccination site or carpooling to a drive-through site, every person who gets a vaccine must make his/her own appointment before arriving.
You will not pay anything out of pocket for the vaccine. Patients on individual and employer health insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid can get any FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine for $0. This no-cost coverage is included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which 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.
It’s important to get information about COVID-19 and the vaccine from trustworthy sources. Do not just go by what you hear others talking about or see posted online. Some sources you can visit are:
Slow the Spread
Louisiana is in a fourth surge of COVID-19, with the highest rate of new cases diagnosed in the United States. Hospitalizations and ER visits for COVID-19 are at the highest levels of any other time in the pandemic. This surge is fueled by the widespread Delta variant, which is more infectious than earlier strains of COVID-19, and Louisiana’s below-average vaccination rate.
To stop this surge, it is very important that Louisianians 12 and older get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can. If you have concerns or questions about the vaccine, ask your healthcare provider for guidance. Even if you’ve had COVID-19, you should still get the vaccine. Medical experts advise that the vaccine provides longer and more effective protection than any natural immunity those who have had COVID-19 build up.
It’s also important that everyone, vaccinated or not, takes steps to prevent spreading COVID-19. Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statewide mask mandate requiring everyone age 5 and older to wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth when in indoor, public places. This includes restaurants, shops, government buildings, healthcare facilities and schools.
In addition to getting the vaccine as soon as you can and wearing a face mask in public, take these steps to prevent getting or spreading COVID-19:
We now consider COVID-19 not a temporary, but a long-term health problem we can expect to face for an unknown time. New advancements in treatment and prevention have caused health plans to end some temporary changes made early in this public health emergency and move back toward normal ways of covering care.
Starting Jan. 1, 2021, Blue Cross will no longer waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 associated medical treatment. This includes hospitalization and additional office visits, urgent care visits and emergency department visits beyond those where a COVID-19 test was ordered except as required by law.
This means members, who must get care related to a COVID-19 diagnosis, will be responsible for the normal cost-share (copay, deductible or coinsurance) that applies to their plans.
The waived cost-share for COVID-19 associated medical treatment applied to most members who buy their own healthcare coverage (individual members) and those who are members of fully insured groups.
You are responsible for complying with all federal, state and local rules regarding face masks and COVID-19 prevention whether or not you’ve been vaccinated. In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide mask mandate requiring everyone age 5 and older to wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth when in indoor, public places. This includes restaurants, shops, government buildings, healthcare facilities and schools.
The vaccines are very effective at preventing death, hospitalization or severe symptoms from COVID-19. While health officials have reported breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in vaccinated people, they typically have very mild symptoms. But, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has advised that vaccinated people can still carry and spread the virus to others. This is why state and federal health officials recommend everyone wear masks when in public. Anyone who is not or cannot be vaccinated, including children younger than 12 and people with certain medical conditions, is at a very high risk of being exposed and infected during this COVID-19 surge, and universal masking protects us all.
If you are looking for COVID-19 testing, you can contact your healthcare provider to ask about which test you should have and where you can get one.
Hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and other facilities are offering free community testing for COVID-19 across the state. You can find out where and when testing is taking place by visiting the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Community Testing Centers page, where you can find testing locations by parish. Testing sites are usually open for only a few days at a time, so check the LDH’s COVID-19 Newsroom for the latest announcements. And, check community calendars on newspaper and local TV station websites to find out about testing in your area.
You can also call 211, text LACOVID to 898-211 or visit www.LA211Help.org to reach the statewide information network and ask for more information about COVID-19 testing.
Blue Cross will cover diagnostic viral detection and antibody COVID-19 testing with a healthcare provider’s order. You should talk to your healthcare provider about testing and what is best for you. Without a doctor’s order, you may have to pay out of pocket for the test.
Blue Cross will cover multiple tests for the same member, as long as the tests are diagnostic, ordered by a healthcare provider, and medically appropriate for the member. We generally do not cover tests without a provider’s order. We do not cover patient-driven or elective tests. Home tests may be covered if they are ordered by a healthcare provider for a medical indication.
If you received a diagnostic or antibody COVID-19 test with a healthcare provider and paid that provider directly, you may submit the bill to Blue Cross for reimbursement. We will pay up to 100% of an in-network provider’s fee (allowable charge) for the test and evaluation. We will pay non-par and out-of-network testing as required by law.
If you get a COVID-19 test and the healthcare provider files it with a sick or regular visit, you may still have to pay a copayment or deductible for the visit.
Blue Cross is not covering tests done for public health surveillance, or tests required to return to work, recreational groups, camp, athletics or school. This was effective March 18, 2020, and is based on federal guidance from the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury, as well as Louisiana state law.
There is a state law that requires health plans to cover antiviral drugs, including monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines that are approved by the FDA or officially recommended by a government authority to treat or prevent COVID-19 through Dec. 31, 2021.
The FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for several monoclonal antibody treatments. The federal government is currently covering the full cost for these drugs. Blue Cross will cover the administration cost without any member cost share for our fully insured members through Dec. 31, 2021, if the drug is administered in strict compliance with the FDA emergency use authorization (EUA) requirements. At this time, prior authorization is not required. Some self-funded employer groups may opt out of this member cost share waiver. Blue Cross will cover the administration costs for additional monoclonal antibody treatments as soon as they receive an EUA from the FDA for their administration.
If you have questions about how this is covered on your health plan, contact Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
When talk of a virus outbreak hits close to home, it’s normal to feel stressed about a potential pandemic and emerging health crisis. Try these tips if you are feeling overwhelmed or fearful about an outbreak. No matter how you're feeling, you can get help from New Directions, the independent company that provides behavioral health services to eligible Blue Cross members.
New Directions has opened up a crisis line to anyone who may need to discuss behavioral health issues related to COVID-19. Call 1-833-848-1764 to reach the New Directions Emotional Support Hotline. This is a free and confidential 24/7 helpline staffed by trained and caring professionals.
State health officials announced that based on recent CDC guidance, third doses of COVID-19 vaccines are now available to Louisianians with certain health conditions that put them at higher risk from COVID-19. That third dose will be their booster. This recommendation is for people whose immune systems are severely or moderately compromised - people going through active cancer treatment, or who have had an organ or stem cell transplant that requires immune-suppressing drugs - and who have already gotten two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines). If you do qualify for a booster, it’s covered for $0, and you can use the same resources listed on this site to schedule your appointment and find a vaccine location or to get free rides to your appointment.
At this time, there is no booster recommendation for people who got the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. There is also no broader booster recommendation for people who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines but do not have health conditions that affect their immunity. Right now, the CDC and FDA are reviewing clinical data to consider making a formal, broader recommendation on boosters for other groups of people. State health officials have said they will follow that recommendation and make the booster shot available to all Louisianians who qualify.
This is a rapidly developing situation, so it’s important to pay attention to the latest news and updates. You can visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website, www.ldh.la.gov, to see the latest updates and information about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including who currently qualifies for a booster vaccine. You can also see more information about the state’s booster vaccine recommendation and frequently asked questions on that site.
To meet members' needs and changing regulations, Blue Cross must be agile with our processes to ensure access to needed care and medications. We will continue to follow CDC, federal and state recommendations regarding the coronavirus; and will make the following changes effective Aug. 20, 2021, until further notice:
If you have any questions about these processes or what is covered on your health plan, call Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
COVID Defense App
The state of Louisiana has an app that alerts you if you were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The app is available for Apple and Android devices.
Visit the Baton Rouge Health District’s COVID-19 vaccine site to get information from local health leaders. Use the digital toolbox to jazz up your vaccine social posts.
Vaccine Social Graphics