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CMS Announces New Strategies to Encourage People with Medicare to Get a COVID-19 Booster

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According to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) polling, the number of fully vaccinated adults who have received a booster dose more than doubled in the last month. Nearly one-fourth of all adults and one-third of those over age 50 say they have received a booster, and many more plan to get a booster soon. However, 27% of adults and 11% of those over 65 remain unvaccinated. The share of adults who say they “definitely won’t” get a COVID-19 vaccine holds steady at around 14%.

As states across the country face a new COVID-19 variant and rising infection rates, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new strategies they will employ in the coming weeks to encourage vaccine and booster uptake among people with Medicare:

  • Send a letter to everyone with Medicare: All 63 million people who currently have Medicare will receive a letter encouraging them to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as possible.
  • Conduct campaigns and paid advertising: This outreach will focus on those with Medicare who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and will include reminders about getting the annual flu shot.
  • Include 1-800 MEDICARE reminders: Approximately two million people call 1-800-MEDICARE each month. They will hear a reminder to get their COVID-19 boosters at the beginning of their call.
  • Include a message in Medicare Summary Notices: For people with Original Medicare, CMS will include a COVID-19 booster message in their Medicare Summary Notice (the explanation of benefits people receive when a claim is filed) over the next several months.
  • Send email reminders: CMS will send COVID-19 vaccine booster reminder emails to the more than 14 million people who are signed up to receive Medicare email communications.
  • Deliver consistent communication via social media: The @MedicareGov Twitter handle will continue to tweet about the importance of COVID-19 vaccine boosters.

The agency also plans to engage local and national partners, health plans, nursing homes, and the media to help spread the word.

Studies show that being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 remains effective in preventing severe disease, and that a booster dose increases immune response, further improving protection.

By way of reminder, people with Medicare pay nothing when they get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible. In addition, nearly all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries, and many with private health insurance, must receive coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters without cost-sharing.

Read the CMS announcement, CMS Encourages People with Medicare to get COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot.

Read the KFF analysis, COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: November 2021.

Learn more about Medicare coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters from Medicare Interactive.

Visit vaccines.gov (English) or vacunas.gov (Spanish) to search for vaccines near you.

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