ashland.news
May 19, 2024

New COVID shots arriving locally; uninsured people could pay out of pocket

Woman holding sleeve up showing band-aid on arm after having a vaccination shot.
A new Oregon Health Authority study found no connection between sudden cardiac deaths in young people and the COVID-19 vaccinations. CDC photo
September 14, 2023

CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an updated vaccination

By James Sloan, Rogue Valley Times

Southern Oregon health professionals hope to start administering the latest COVID vaccines this week.

The shots were approved by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee Tuesday, a day after the Food and Drug Administration approved new COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna. The updated COVID shots will target the XBB.1.5 subvariant that descended from the Omicron variant of the infectious disease.

In Jackson County, pharmacies and the county health department are hoping to receive the new doses by the end of the week, but it could take until the start of October for others, according to Tanya Phillips, health promotion program manager with Jackson County Health and Human Services.

“Some places may have the vaccine by the end of the week, but I think others might have varying availability,” Phillips said. “It may not be available all at once, but hopefully by October.”

The CDC is recommending that everyone 6 months and older should get an updated vaccination.

While COVID vaccines were free to receive during the pandemic, some people getting the booster may have to pay out of pocket.

“Depending on the clinic, there could be a small charge,” Phillips said. “If there is a cost, it will be a relatively small amount and will depend on who’s ordering it.”

While Phillips couldn’t provide specific price ranges or estimated costs for people signing up to receive the shot, she listed the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, which provides no-cost COVID-19 vaccines to adults without health insurance. The federal program also provides costless vaccines for adults whose insurance does not cover all vaccine costs.

Adults with insurance that covers the vaccine will receive it for free, which includes people on Medicaid and Medicare.

“For uninsured adults and children, we will have a program available for those populations where vaccines will be free,” Phillips said. “If you’re going to a pharmacy, ask if they’re doing anything under the Bridge Access Program.”

The local health department is set to receive a small amount of new COVID vaccines, though the doses will be for children of uninsured or under-insured parents primarily.

“No kid coming to our clinic will be turned away. We always work with the families on that,” Phillips said.

The best way to be fully aware of expected costs and vaccine availability is to call the health department or one’s pharmacy of choice, Phillips said.

Reach Jackson County Health and Human Services at 541-774-8200.

“We would have them call Jackson County Public Health, schedule an appointment, and during that process, staff ask those (vaccine cost) questions,” Phillips said. For pharmacies, “It may depend on each clinic and what their policy and process is.”

Beyond COVID vaccines, residents are advised to get their yearly flu shots and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines, with the new RSV shot being approved by the FDA in July.

“With the seasonal influenza vaccine, the best time to get it is by the end of October,” Phillips said. “For the RSV vaccine, there’s two vaccines for … adults 60 years or older.”

Children 6 months or older are eligible to receive the influenza vaccine, while children should be 8 months or younger to get the RSV vaccine, according to the CDC.

For decisions on when to receive the flu and RSV vaccines, adults should talk with their medical provider about what the best decision is for them, Phillips said.

Regarding any potential health complications if people receive the COVID, influenza or RSV vaccines at the same time, Phillips hasn’t seen or heard of any complications but continued to recommend seeking the advice of a medical provider for questions or concerns.

While Jackson County is no longer tracking new COVID cases in cooperation with the state lifting pandemic response measures May 11, there are multiple resources for residents to be aware of for checking for outbreaks during the colder months.

Those resources include the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, the Oregon Health Authority COVID dashboard and updates and press releases from the state health authority.

Other measures to reduce COVID spread are “making sure to stay home when you’re sick and not spreading it to others, also wearing a mask if you have a higher risk of being hospitalized, being vaccinated and washing your hands often, especially after bathroom use,” Phillips said. “We’ve got kids back in school, and we see a lot of otherwise vaccine-preventable illnesses spread, so it’s a good time to look at kids for a second and make sure everyone is up to date.”

To find a location that administers COVID-19 nearby, visit vaccines.gov.

For more information about COVID from Jackson County Health and Human Services, go to jacksoncountyor.org/hhs.

Reach reporter James Sloan at jsloan@rv-times.com. This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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