As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, there remain many questions but there are also many answers.
Prevention: The best way to prevent serious illness due to COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. More than 500 million doses and 10 months of data show that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing serious disease and death:
- Being vaccinated reduces your risk of COVID-19 infection by up to 95%.
- If you do get a breakthrough infection, your symptoms are highly likely to be much less severe.
- Vaccination reduces your risk of being hospitalized (or requiring ICU treatment) by 80% or more.
Preventive vaccines are covered at 100% by your health plan, including the COVID-19 vaccine and booster. There is no cost to you.
To schedule an appointment for your vaccine , go to: Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
For more general COVID-19 vaccine information, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html.
COVID-19 variants continue to circulate with a high level of transmission. Please get vaccinated to protect yourself, your family, and your community.
There are many things that you should do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you or someone around you does become infected:
- Wear a mask (anyone over age 2) in indoor public places if you are not fully vaccinated or are fully vaccinated in an area with substantial or high transmission or if you have a weakened immune system.
- Get tested immediately if you have any symptoms: fever (100.4 F or above), cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, decreased appetite, sore throat, fatigue, congestion or runny nose, loss of taste or smell, and occasionally gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 tests are now available at no cost to you. See below, under “Benefit Coverage”, to find out how to obtain free COVID-19 tests through the federal government, as well as how to obtain tests at no cost to you through your prescription drug plan.
- Isolate for 5 days if you are sick or test positive even if you do not have symptoms, to reduce the likelihood that you’ll spread the disease to others. Contact your doctor for advice. Get immediate medical attention if you have difficulty breathing. Wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
- Notify your close contacts if you test positive. A close contact is anyone who was less than 6 feet away from you for at least 15 minutes while you may have been infectious.
- If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, quarantine for 5 days if you are unvaccinated OR are not up to date on your vaccinations. Get tested as soon as possible. Watch for symptoms and wear a mask around others for at least 10 days.
For more information, go to the Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Treatment: We ask everyone to follow the recommendations of the CDC. If you have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, you are encouraged to call a healthcare provider first to be assessed and for help with next steps, if necessary, to minimize the risk of spread of COVID-19 and other viruses like the flu.
- Teledoc: see a doctor from the comfort of your own home through Teladoc. A Teladoc doctor can evaluate your risk and help with next steps, if necessary, while minimizing the risk of spread of COVID-19 and other viruses such as the flu.
- The Coalition Health Centers: Call first to speak directly to a provider before presenting at the CHCs. The provider will assist with necessary triage or a care plan.
- Anchorage CHC – 907-264-1370
IMPORTANT: The Anchorage CHC is moving to a new location beginning October 5, 2021. Click here for more information about the new location and revised hours of operation during the move.
- Fairbanks CHC – 907-450-3300
- Anchorage CHC – 907-264-1370
- Call your regular provider
Maintaining your Mental Well-being: If you are feeling anxious, isolated or depressed, don’t forget that your Employee Assistance Program through Lifeworks is available to you 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. You can have up to six free counseling sessions per year. Your medical plan also provides coverage for mental health services.
- 1-877-234-5151 (toll-free)
- TTY/TDD: 1-800-999-3004 (toll-free)
- En Espanol: 1-888-732-9020 (toll-free)
- Online: http://www.lifeworks.com/ for online mental health information including a COVID-19 Toolkit (UserID: asea; Password: eap)
- Mobile app: LifeWorks (Username: asea; Password: eap)
- If you are experiencing a behavioral health emergency or are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week) at 1-800-273-8255
Benefit Coverage: Benefits for treatment of COVID-19 will be treated like any infectious disease or illness although there are some temporary benefit plan changes for COVID-19 testing and in-patient hospitalizations. Click here to learn more. As new information is received, we will provide updates.
Over-the-Counter At-Home COVID-19 Tests Are Available at NO COST TO YOU: Now, it’s easier than ever to find out if you’ve got COVID-19 from the comfort of your home and at no cost to you:
- You can receive up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household through a program offered by U.S. federal government. Order your free tests at COVIDTests.gov. Tests will be mailed to your home.
- NEW beginning January 15, 2022: Your health plan covers the cost of most over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 tests through the CVS Caremark® pharmacy plan:
- Up to 8 tests per covered person every 30 calendar days
- Purchased without a prescription on or after January 15, 2022
- For use if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive (does not include non-medical uses such as employment, school, or travel)
When you purchase your at-home COVID-19 tests through a preferred Caremark pharmacy, the plan pays the full cost of the tests. Ask the pharmacy to submit the claim through your prescription drug plan as you would any prescription. If the pharmacy is unable to process your claim and you pay for the at-home tests out-of-pocket, you may submit a claim for reimbursement. Claims for reimbursement for eligible out-of-pocket costs may be submitted online at caremark.com, through the CVS/Caremark™ mobile app or via paper claim. (At-home COVID-19 tests purchased from a non-preferred pharmacy, such as Amazon, are reimbursed up to $12 per test.) Proof of purchase will be required. For more information, go to caremark.com or call 1 (800) 764-7287
Vaccine Coverage: Safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use and are currently being distributed. It’s important for all of us to get the COVID-19 vaccine, if appropriate, when we’re eligible. To find out if you are eligible and to schedule an appointment for your vaccine when it’s your turn, go to: Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
The COVID-19 vaccine is covered by your health plan at 100% (no deductible required).
Where can you find more information about COVID-19: You may find more information on Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) website, or the Alaska Department of Health and Social Service’s (DHSS) website where you can also subscribe for DHSS alerts and updates via email or text.