COVID-19: Staying informed about symptoms, testing and vaccinations
It’s been over two years since the COVID-19 pandemic became a major part of our lives. It’s just as important now as ever to stay informed about symptoms, access to at-home testing and where you can get the vaccine and recommended boosters. Staying informed and taking necessary precautions can help us stay healthy and live life boldly.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a wide range of reported COVID-19 symptoms, and these appear within 2-14 days of exposure to the virus. These include:
- Congestion or runny nose
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- New loss of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
They note that this list continues to be updated as they learn more about this novel virus. Also, they recommend seeking emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- New confusion
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
- Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- Trouble breathing
When should I get tested for COVID-19?
You should get tested for COVID-19 if you have any symptoms, have been exposed to someone who has had COVID-19 recently, before and after travel or when asked to by your doctor or a public health official. You can take a rapid test or a laboratory test.
How can I get free at-home COVID-19 tests?
COVID-19 self-tests can be used at home and can provide quick results. Great news! Did you know that you can get free at-home COVID-19 tests delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS)? There are two ways you can order:
- Online by visiting covidtests.gov
- Over the phone by calling the helpline at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489)
There’s a limit of two orders per household, and each order contains four individual tests. Learn more on their website.
Also, anyone with Medicare Part B or a Medicare Advantage plan can receive eight over-the-counter tests per month for free from participating pharmacies and healthcare providers. This coverage continues until the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) ends. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), you might need to show your red, white, and blue Medicare card to get your free over the counter COVID-19 tests (even if you have another card for a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Part D plan).
Check with your pharmacy or healthcare provider to see if they are participating and will bill Medicare on your behalf. ApexHealth members, if you have any questions about how to get your free, at-home COVID-19 tests, reach out to your ApexAssistant. They’ll be happy to help direct you to the resources you need!
Where can I get my COVID-19 vaccine and recommended boosters?
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can lower your risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines can also help prevent serious illness and death. Getting vaccinated can also help keep your loved ones safe. Currently:
- Everyone five years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination
- Everyone aged 12 and older is eligible for a booster shot. (People aged 12 and over who are moderately or severely immunocompromised can also receive a second booster at least four months after receiving the first booster)
- People aged 50 and over can receive a second booster at least four months after receiving the first booster
When and which booster you should get depends on which primary vaccine series you received. Visit the CDC’s website for more information.
You can visit vaccines.gov to find a location near you, and then make an appointment over the phone or online, or check out directories specific to your state:
Also, ApexHealth is proud to work closely with an integrated network of providers and hospitals, anchored by Atrium Health and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, to ensure our members get unmatched expertise and personalized care.* Both Atrium Health and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist offer COVID-19 vaccine appointments and walk-in vaccination events which bring the vaccine to convenient locations in your community:
Does Medicare or my Medicare Advantage plan cover the COVID-19 vaccine and recommended boosters?
Medicare covers all FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots at no cost to you. This means no copayment, deductible, or administrative fee from a provider. A Medicare Advantage plan covers all immunization services that are included under Medicare Part B.
Can I get transportation to my vaccine appointments?
If you are unable to get yourself to your COVID-19 vaccine appointment, there are options. If you live in North Carolina, you can:
- Ask your vaccine provider if they have transportation options
- Contact your local transit authority in advance to see if you can schedule a ride
- Call the At-Home Vaccination Hotline at 866-303-0026 to find a provider in your area who is providing vaccinations for individuals in their home
Remember that older adults and those with underlying medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease and lung disease are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19 related illnesses. Your doctor or healthcare provider is the best person to talk to regarding any and all matters related to your medical health.
*Other providers are available in our network.
This information is current as of 4/11/2022.