COVID-19: Testing, Vaccines, & Resources
Community First Health Plans is committed to providing the COVID-19 resources and support you need while helping you get access to the care you deserve. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, please visit CDC.gov/coronavirus.
NEW! Beginning September 25, 2023, every U.S. household can again place an order to receive four more free COVID-19 rapid tests delivered directly to their home.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is an infectious respiratory illness spread through droplets. Symptoms vary, from mild to severe.
What is a COVID-19 variant?
COVID-19 variants are versions of the virus that have genetic changes. These changes happen naturally as the virus spreads. Some variants have alterations in the spike protein, which help the virus enter cells. This can affect how easily it spreads or how the immune system responds. Variants might spread more easily, evade immunity, or cause severe illness. Vaccines are designed to protect against new variants.
What do I need to know about the newest variant?
The COVID-19 variant HV.1 has been spreading quickly this fall.
- HV.1 currently makes up the majority of cases in the U.S., according to the CDC.
- Doctors are commonly seeing upper respiratory complaints, like sore throat, cough, congestion, and runny nose.
- Other COVID-19 symptoms, like loss of taste and smell, are less common.
How does COVID-19 impact children, seniors, and individuals with weakened immune systems?
Children usually experience mild cases, but severe ones can occur. Older adults and those with medical conditions face a higher risk. Individuals with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable. Prevention and vaccination is key to limit the spread and keep those most at risk safe.
Testing and Information
Do I Have To Pay For A COVID Test?
NEW! Beginning September 25, every U.S. household can again place an order to receive four more free COVID-19 rapid tests delivered directly to their home. Order online at Covid.gov/Tests or call 1-800-232-0233
Laboratory tests for COVID-19 that are ordered by your doctor are covered with no out-of-pocket costs for Community First Members. Contact your primary care provider to make an appointment.
Where Can I Get Tested for COVID-19?
- Visit a community-based testing location, such as a pharmacy or health center near you. These locations may offer PCR or antigen tests, and provide low- or no-cost testing for everyone, including people without insurance.
- Talk to a doctor or health care provider about other testing options that may be available to you.
- If you are a person with a disability, the Disability Information and Access Line can help you access a test or find a test location.
Who Should Get Tested For COVID-19?
According to the CDC, these are the key times to get tested.
- If you have symptoms, test immediately.
- If you were exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms, wait at least 5 full days after your exposure before testing. If you test too early, you may be more likely to get an inaccurate result.
- Consider testing before contact with someone at high risk for severe COVID-19, especially if you are in an area with a medium or high COVID-19 Community Level.
Get updated recommendations from the CDC here.
Vaccines and Boosters
Who Should Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:
- CDC recommends the 2023–2024 updated COVID-19 vaccines.
- Everyone aged 5 years and older should get 1 dose of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness from COVID-19.
- People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional doses of updated COVID-19 vaccine.
- Children aged 6 months–4 years need multiple doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be up to date, including at least 1 dose of updated COVID-19 vaccine.
- COVID-19 vaccine recommendations will be updated as needed.
Stay up-to-date with the latest vaccine recommendations from the CDC here.
Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
What types of COVID-19 vaccines are available?
Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA categorized into two main types: (1) mRNA, and (2) protein subunit. Each type of vaccine prompts our bodies to recognize and help protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19.
MRNA VACCINES (PFIZER & MODERNA)
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. Essentially, using an mRNA vaccine, we trick our own cells into developing an immune response to COVID-19 which can protect us against a real infection in the future. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in two doses. You need both doses of the vaccine for it to be fully effective.
PROTEIN SUBUNIT VACCINES (NOVAVAX)
Protein subunit vaccines like Novavax contain pieces (proteins) of the virus that causes COVID-19. These virus pieces are the spike protein. The vaccine also contains another ingredient called an adjuvant that helps the immune system respond to that spike protein in the future. Once the immune system knows how to respond to the spike protein, the immune system will be able to respond quickly to the actual virus spike protein and protect you against COVID-19.
COVID-19, Flu, or RSV?
Influenza (flu), respiratory syncytial (RSV), and COVID-19 are all contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Some of their symptoms are similar, so it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone.
There are actions you can take to protect yourself and others. Learn from the CDC about whether you’re more likely to get seriously ill, how to prevent these viruses, and what to do if these viruses are spreading in your community.