As we enter the winter season, we see the return of familiar foes like the flu, RSV and other infectious respiratory diseases, including the ever-present COVID-19. While the public health emergency was lifted earlier this year, COVID-19 still presents a very real threat. The virus can disrupt our everyday lives, causing us to miss work and school and limit our time with loved ones. Learn more about the latest COVID-19 vaccine updates and recommendations to stay in the know as we continue to navigate this ongoing health challenge and take steps to protect our lung health.
Understanding COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations
Updated COVID-19 vaccines help restore our immunity because protection from vaccination does decline over time. They can also protect against different variants (because the virus is always changing) and reduce your chance of having Long COVID.
This September, the CDC updated its vaccine recommendations for all age groups. They now recommend that everyone aged 6 months and older should get an updated COVID-19 vaccine. They have undergone a thorough review process and are similar to earlier versions that have been safely given to hundreds of millions of people.
Having a chronic lung disease increases your risk for severe illness from respiratory viruses including the flu and COVID-19. The good news is that you can choose to get both your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations at the same visit.
You’re Covered for COVID-19 Vaccines
Although there have been changes in how COVID-19 vaccines are covered, updated vaccines are still available free of charge for everyone in the United States. This includes all adults and children—regardless of insurance type or status.
Updated COVID-19 vaccines are covered by private insurance, Medicare plans and Medicaid plans. Children and adults who are insured through a private plan can access updated vaccines with no out-of-pocket costs at in-network locations.
If you do not have insurance, you can receive COVID-19 vaccines free of cost. Children who are uninsured or unable to afford the cost can get free vaccines through the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. A child can also receive a vaccine through the VFC program if they are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Adults 18 years and older without health insurance or zero-cost coverage for COVID-19 vaccines can access free vaccines through the Bridge Access Program. You can get no-cost COVID-19 vaccines at healthcare providers, federally supported health centers and retail pharmacy chains participating in the Bridge Access Program. Visit vaccines.gov to find locations offering no-cost COVID-19 vaccines through the Bridge Access Program.
Vaccination is Protection.
We have come a long way in our fight against COVID-19, largely thanks to vaccines. But the virus has not disappeared. Thousands of people are still diagnosed with COVID-19 daily, putting us at risk of health consequences. And the ripple effects of COVID-19 can impact every aspect of our daily lives.
COVID-19 vaccines continue to be proven tools for combatting new and existing virus variants. Staying up to date with COVID vaccines can help maintain your daily routine, avoid missed work and school, and protect yourself and those around you from the worst outcomes of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project, of which the American Lung Association is an active member, is comprised of leading organizations representing patients, caregivers and families, diverse communities, healthcare workers, older Americans, veterans, frontline workers and scientists. We believe we have a responsibility to come together to provide information about the clinical trials process, regulatory review, distribution of and access to COVID-19 vaccines in a way that promotes equity and trust.
Blog last updated: November 22, 2023