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COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage

Check for eligibility and make an appointment. Vaccine appointments are becoming available every day. Eligibility criteria and vaccine availability is changing frequently.

Under state and federal mandate, the COVID-19 vaccines are:

  • Available at no cost to our members during the public health emergency 
  • Prioritized for those at highest risk

We do encourage individuals seeking vaccination to:

  • Visit New York State COVID website at am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov
  • Call the New York State Vaccination Hotline, 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829)
  • For those without access to the internet, or out of state, please call 211 
  • Many counties and pharmacies are now scheduling appointments (check their websites or call for more information)
  • Note: Some member plans do cover transportation related to certain types of appointments, but, at this time, we do not offer COVID-19/vaccine related scheduling or transportation services.

Reminder: For COVID-19 vaccines requiring two doses, the 2nd dose is required for the vaccine to be fully effective.

NYS Vaccine Eligibility Tool
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Ask the Experts: COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines are a hot topic and on the minds of many. Is a vaccine that was created so quickly actually safe? Mona Chitre, PharmD, our Chief Pharmacy Officer, answers questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ's

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

We are following the federal, state and county distribution plans for the vaccine. The CDC has said the goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available; however, not everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away.

There rapid changes with vaccine availability and eligibility. To check your eligibility and find locations where you can schedule an appointment:

  • Visit the New York State of Health’s website at am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov
  • Call the New York State Vaccination Hotline at 1.833.NYS.4VAX (1.833.697.4829)
  • If you live outside of New York state, go to your state's health department website for more information or call 211
NYS Vaccine Eligibility Tool

Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

  •  The COVID-19 vaccine will be available at pharmacies, hospitals, through the local health departments and State-run sites.
  • You can get the vaccine from any provider that offers it, even if the provider does not participate in your health plan’s network.
    • Visit am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov to find out where vaccines are available at NYS-run locations.
    • If you live outside of New York state, go to your state's health department website for more information.
    • If you are looking for appointments with pharmacies, doctors’ offices or local health departments, please check their website or contact them directly.

Will my health insurance cover the vaccination? Will there be a cost to me?

Vaccines will be provided at no cost to members. The vaccine itself is being paid for by the federal government and health insurers cover the health provider costs for administering the vaccine.

The vaccine administration is covered in full for all members with the possible exception of less than 10 self-funded employer groups that are not required to comply with the CARES Act vaccine requirements.

How do we know that these vaccines are safe when they are so new?

COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same rigorous safety and efficacy standards as all other vaccines – and have been tested thousands of times to ensure safety and use proven science technology:

  • The Pfizer & Moderna vaccines both use mRNA vaccine technology. It has been studied for decades and looks at the genetic makeup of the virus and uses genetic code to teach our body how to trigger an immune response to combat the virus.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses viral vector technology. Vaccines of this type have been well-studied in clinical trials and used to respond to recent Ebola outbreaks. It uses a modified version of a different virus to deliver instructions, which teach our body to trigger an immune response.

What can I do to stay safe until I can get the vaccine?

Remember to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 by following the 3 Ws:

  • WASH your hands frequently
  • WEAR a mask or face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • WATCH your distance – keep six feet apart and avoid small and large gatherings 

Can a COVID-19 vaccine give you COVID-19?

No. The COVID-19 vaccines being used in the U.S. don't use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and cannot make you sick from the virus. Some people may experience some mild side effects after receiving the vaccine, but this does NOT mean you are sick with COVID-19. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus.

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 is very serious and can cause severe medical complications that lead to death in some people. The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is by getting the vaccine when it is available to you and taking other precautions, including practicing social distancing, continuing to wear a mask and washing your hands often and thoroughly. COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same rigorous safety and efficacy standards as all other vaccines – and have been tested thousands of times to ensure safety.

Will I need a prescription for the vaccine?

No. You don't need a prescription, but you do need an appointment and an ID to get vaccinated.

Do all vaccines require a second dose?

Ask at the time of your first shot when and if you need to return for your second shot and how to make the appointment (if needed).

When a second dose is required, the timing between your first and second shot depends on which vaccine you receive, and it’s important you get both shots within the recommended time period. Some vaccines require two shots (e.g. Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech); others require only one shot (e.g. Johnson & Johnson).

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Yes, reinfection is still possible. We don’t know how long someone is protected after getting COVID-19. Anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and after they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.

Can I stop taking safety precautions after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

While the vaccine is extremely effective in protecting the person who receives it, it may be possible for people who are exposed to COVID-19 to spread it to others, even if they themselves have been vaccinated and are immune. Until we learn more, and to protect others and prevent the spread of COVID-19, you should continue to follow these precautions for avoiding the COVID-19 virus even after getting your vaccine:

  • Avoid close contact with others and maintain social distancing.
  • Continue to wear a mask.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Stay home if you're sick.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine protect me from getting sick with COVID?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines work by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus, and hopefully will prevent you from getting sick, from developing severe illness, and from having long-term health effects from COVID-19 infection, or death.​

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have a history of severe allergic reactions?

If you have common allergies (e.g., cats/dogs, hay fever, dust or pollen), you should have no difficulties taking the vaccine. If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable medications, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine.

How much will the shot hurt? What are the possible side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine?

Side effects are possible with any type of vaccination. Some people may have very mild side effects for a day or two after the vaccine. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. This does NOT mean you are sick - it’s a sign that your immune system is being activated to fight the virus. The most common issue is a sore arm which can happen with most vaccines. Side effects can also include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain

What is Excellus BCBS' role in the vaccination effort?

Health insurers, pharmacies, businesses, and community-based organizations across the country, including Excellus BCBS, are working with the federal, state, and local officials to assist in the national effort to vaccinate millions and protect all Americans from COVID-19.

Excellus BCBS is engaged with our partners, businesses in the community, and federal, state and local government leaders across the areas we serve to:

  1. Provide vaccine education and resources and answer common questions about:
    • COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy
    • How to schedule appointments
    • What to expect after getting the COVID-19 vaccine
    • Ways to continue to stay safe (3Ws)
  2. Help those in our communities get vaccinated as quickly and equitably as possible and help remove barriers to vaccinations for seniors in vulnerable communities, such as African American and Hispanic communities
  3. Educate physicians and providers on proper billing for the vaccines and giving providers access to expert information about vaccine efficacy and safety

Excellus BCBS continues to seek ways to reduce the burden on the health care system by encouraging annual flu shots and promoting practices such as proper mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing to help improve the health of the communities we serve.

Stay Informed
The best way to stay informed and have access to your coverage is online. Let’s get you set up online today. For help or questions with your insurance plan, call the number on your Member Card for personalized care, or contact us.
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*Members of a select number of “grandfathered” employer groups may need to pay a cost share for the administration of the vaccine. If you are enrolled in a grandfathered group, please consult with your employer’s human resources or health benefits representative for COVID-19 vaccine-related benefits.

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