Why older adults shouldn’t wait to get a COVID-19 vaccine
Great news! If you are 65 or older, you’re eligible right now to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner your life can go back to normal. It will protect you from catching the virus. In the rare chance you do catch it, the vaccine will prevent serious illness, or worse, hospitalization or death.
Unfortunately, positivity rates and hospitalizations are still high, as are COVID-related death rates for adults 65 and older. Older adults are more vulnerable to the disease and those who do get it are at a higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. In fact, 8 out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 and older.
The rollout of the highly effective COVID-19 vaccines across the country is giving hope to many that the end of the pandemic is near. But as the vaccines have arrived, so have the questions. We want you to feel good about getting vaccinated, so we’ve answered some of the questions you may have, including how to get it.
Are the vaccines safe?
Yes. The vaccines are safe for older adults and people with chronic conditions. They are new and were developed in record time. But safety and effectiveness were always front of mind. Here’s some information about how it all worked to help set your mind at ease:
- The vaccine development was fast because it was a global effort. Leading scientists worked together and the federal government spent more than $10 billion to support their work. The FDA did not cut corners, but it did speed up the process by granting Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
- The vaccines went through large-scale clinical trials with diverse demographics:
|Vaccine Clinical Trials||Percentage of participants over 65||Chronic conditions|
|Pfizer||21.4%||The most frequent underlying medical conditions people had were obesity (35.1%), diabetes (8.4%), and pulmonary disease (7.8%).|
|Moderna||25.3%||22.3% had at least one of these high-risk conditions: lung disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, or HIV infection. 4% of participants had two or more high-risk conditions.|
|Johnson & Johnson||19.6%||40.8% had one or more chronic conditions.|
- The safety and efficacy were reviewed by independent scientists from the FDA and CDC, as well as the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
- You may have heard that the Pfizer and Modern vaccines are a newer type of vaccine called mRNA (Messenger RNA) vaccines. People have been researching this technology for several decades. Medical experts are confident they’re safe. You can learn more about how they work.
- None of the vaccines can give you COVID-19. They are all proven to be safe and effective.
- All of the vaccines are safe for people with chronic conditions.
Should I be worried about side effects?
Some people do get mild side effects after being vaccinated. These could include a sore arm, fatigue, headache, and muscle pain. Any side effects should go away in a few days. And some people don’t get any side effects at all.
In very rare cases, people can have an allergic reaction to the shot. That’s why you are asked to stay for observation for 15 to 30 minutes after you get it.
For more details, read these FAQs about what to expect after getting vaccinated.
How can I make an appointment?
If you’ve had a hard time getting an appointment, please don’t give up. There have been a few challenges, including supply and distribution issues, as well as complicated vaccine shipping and storage requirements, With so many people wanting to get vaccinated, the lines can be long. Blue Shield California is working with the state to create an effective, safe, efficient, and equitable vaccine rollout for all Californians.
In the meantime, please be patient. Don’t give up. As more vaccines are distributed, appointments will become easier to get. Here’s how to get one:
- You can schedule your appointment at My Turn or by calling (833) 422-4255.
- You might have to wait on hold for a while, but it’s worth it.
- If you’re still having trouble, ask a family member or a friend if they can help.
- You can also ask your doctor, pharmacist, or community health center if they are giving vaccines. If they are, ask them to contact you when the vaccine is available.
How do I get to my appointment if I need transportation or assistance?
If you have a Blue Shield Medicare Advantage or Blue Shield Promise plans, you may be able to use Call the Car service to take you to and from the vaccine appointment.
- Check your Evidence of Coverage or Member Handbook for benefit information or call Customer Care at the number on the back of your ID card.
- To schedule a pickup, contact Call the Car at:
I and/or my loved one is homebound. What should I do?
Reach out to your healthcare provider first to find out if they can send someone to your home to provide the vaccine. If your provider cannot assist, then reach out to your local or county health department or pharmacy.
What should I expect during my appointment?
You may need to wait in line at the vaccination site. After you get the vaccine, you’ll be asked to sit and wait for 15 to 30 minutes. This is so the staff can watch for rare allergic reactions. Please continue to wear your mask and stay six feet away from others. You will be given a vaccination card.
If you received Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, make sure you get an appointment for your second dose.
Key things to keep in mind as you or family members look to get vaccinated
- The vaccine is free. You do not need health insurance to get it.
- Everyone can get vaccinated. Your immigration status does not matter.
- You can schedule your appointment at My Turn or by calling (833) 422-4255.
- Language concerns? There will be interpreters on the phone and to help at the vaccination site.
After you’ve been fully vaccinated, you may have more freedom. See the CDC’s guidance to find out what will change and what will stay the same. But keep in mind that even after you are vaccinated, it is important to continue to protect yourself and others. That means you should still wear a mask and practice social distancing when in public That will help keep everyone safe as we wait for more Californians to get vaccinated.
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