Today, most U.S. states have opened eligibility to lower priority groups within Phase 1 COVID-19 vaccinations.
With some alterations, states are largely following guidelines set forth by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a team of experts within the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In the ACIP’s recommended vaccination strategy, Phase 1 is comprised of healthcare personnel, essential workers, seniors, and those with the highest need for the vaccine. These groups are both the most at-risk for exposure and the most likely to transmit the virus to the larger public.
The first people to receive the vaccine were doctors, nurses, and other essential hospital and clinic employees. In the ACIP guidelines, this group is 1A.
With states hustling unbelievably fast to get this shot into as many arms as possible, more than half of the U.S. is now working through the 1B and even the 1C groups. These groups primarily consist of seniors over 75 years of age—though depending on how your state may have deviated from APIC guidelines, these groups may include seniors over 70, 65, or younger if they have a high-risk medical condition.
If you are over 65 years of age, I encourage you to start keeping a regular eye on your state’s website. This will be where you can see if you’re eligible and we’re you can locate the necessary information to schedule your vaccination appointment if eligible.
While we have no idea what vaccine administration will look like once it’s rolled out to the general public (the goal is to make it very similar to getting a flu shot at your local pharmacy), we know right now it’s a matter of checking for your eligibility and getting yourself an appointment. Vaccine supplies are limited, so you’ll need to schedule a time to get your poke.
The important thing to understand here is if you’re eligible right now, you’ll have to rely on yourself to get that information AND make the appointment to get the vaccine. The average retiree quarantining at home will likely NOT be contacted by any local agency to alert them of their eligibility or the process to make an appointment.
Don’t expect for anyone to reach out to you personally to let you know it’s your turn.
Informing people that they're eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine won't be a clear system as supplies remain limited and rollout expands.
The first reason I bring this up is because if you haven’t checked out your state’s health department website, you should do so. Right now, in fact. There’s a possibility you are now able to get your vaccine.
The second reason I’m bringing this up is because don’t expect for anyone to reach out to you personally to let you know it’s your turn.
Seniors are receiving calls, texts, and emails from various agencies inviting them to the COVID-19 Vaccine Party every single day.
The price of admission to that party is anything from your bank or credit card information (to pay for the shot, naturally) to your Medicare information (to verify your identity and/or to make sure the cost of your shot is covered).
Guys, the COVID-19 vaccine is free.
The federal government has used YOUR tax dollars to purchase this vaccine and send it all over the country. There is no charge to administer the shot because we already paid for it. And because it’s a matter of public health that EVERYONE gets this shot regardless of their ability to pay or their insurance status.
The vaccine is free. F-R-E-E.
So, you probably see what I’m getting at here.
The likelihood someone will contact you via any means to tell you they checked for your eligibility specifically—in an ENDLESS OCEAN of people waiting for this shot—is slim to none.
But the dead giveaway these calls and emails are scams is the asking for financial or insurance information. NOBODY is paying for this vaccine. This isn’t a profit-making situation. This is a global health crisis situation.
The shot is gratis because it must be in order to create herd immunity. While we don’t know for sure how high a vaccination percentage is needed to achieve that immunity with this specific virus, we do know that number gets as high as 95% with other contagious illnesses, like measles. That means 95% of a population needs to get vaccinated against measles to effectively ensure the remaining 5% won’t get measles.
But because the triage for getting a limited vaccine to every single person in the U.S. is complicated, to say the least, a lot of people have little to no idea how to get it, if they can get it, and how they’ll know it’s time to get it. It is extremely hard to get that kind of information out to every single person, especially when that information varies from state to state and the situation is constantly evolving. A lot of people who can get vaccinated will probably be left in the dark.
Scammers are already exploiting that information gap to the fullest extent.
Whether it’s the shot itself, a fee for administering the shot, or a fee for scheduling your appointment, we can’t stress this enough: getting the COVID-19 vaccine is free. Anyone—no matter WHO they claim to be with or contacting you on behalf of—who tells you there’s any kind of payment involved in the vaccination process is 100% trying to scam you. PLEASE report anyone who contacts you saying this.
Additionally, state health officials are reiterating they would NEVER ask someone they called for sensitive personal information over the phone.
The North Ridgeville Police Department is advising people to be on high alert when receiving calls about the COVID-19 vaccine.
In the event someone would call you to let you know you’re eligible for the vaccine—and that is already highly unlikely—no legitimate caller is going to play 20 Questions with you about your name, birth date, address, Social Security number, or any other information that can be used to steal your identity. It would simply be a call and an attempt to schedule an appointment. That’s it.
In time, these scammers will be putting a target on every head in this country, but at this time, only seniors and essential workers are eligible. This means if you’re a senior, scammers are going to be looking for YOU, specifically. Until this vaccine opens up to lower priority groups, these scams will disproportionately affect retirees as scammers look for ways to get in contact with as many people within our current phase as possible.
So, be proactive about your vaccination eligibility by locating information on your own. Don’t wait for anyone to contact you. Head over to your state or county’s website or contact your local health department to get the information you need. Any changes to eligibility or access will be posted there first.