Scam Alert for Seniors: The COVID-19 VaccineJanuary 13, 2021
Senior citizens living at home are one of the highest risk groups for COVID-19. And among those who are at the highest risk of death or serious illness from the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that the elderly, both those in community living situations and those receiving in-home care, be among the first to receive one of the new vaccines for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. However, some states are choosing slightly different criteria for who receives the vaccine first.
As of this posting, there are two COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA approved). With several more in varying degrees of development (a third vaccine has been approved in the United Kingdom). As happens many times in a crisis; there are unscrupulous people trying to take advantage of the fear many older adults. AARP and several government agencies have reported COVID-19 vaccine scams preying on older people.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Scam and Seniors
The way the scam works is you receive a phone call, e-mail or text message from someone you do not know with one of the following things:
- The opportunity to “jump the line” to get the vaccine first
- Exclusive access to a new vaccine or treatment
- A call from “Medicare” or a local health department asking for your insurance information or Medicare number
- The opportunity to put your name on a “priority list” for vaccination
Some people are also reporting door-to-door solicitations offering the vaccine, COVID testing, or other treatments. These opportunities will always be accompanied by a request for either payment of some kind, or information; such as your Social Security or Medicare Number. Often, pressure tactics are applied such as the scammer insisting that this is a limited time offer, or that there is a new strain of the virus coming, or that they have managed to overcome a shortage in vaccines.
What Seniors in Home Care Need to Know about COVID-19 Vaccine Scams
As with other types of scams, it is important to remember a few things that can keep you safe:
- Never give out your Medicare number or insurance information to anyone other than your own medical professional’s office.
- Medicare and Departments of Public Health will never ask for payment or your insurance information.
- Don’t give out your Social Security number.
Additionally, keep your credit card information safe. Remember, you can’t pay to put yourself on a list to get the vaccine or to “jump the line” to receive the vaccine.
Home Care Seniors and the COVID-19 Vaccine: Some Good News
Thanks to certain governmental programs, it is unlikely that you will need to pay anything out-of-pocket for the COVID-19 vaccine. In most states, you will soon be able to go to your local pharmacy, such as CVS or Walgreen’s or other local pharmacy to receive your vaccination. Ask your primary care professional what group you fall into to receive the vaccine and schedule an appointment as soon as the vaccines become available for your group.
The goal is to vaccinate toward full herd immunity. That occurs when the virus can no longer find a host to be transmitted to because so many people have immunity, and it generally takes at least 75% of the population being vaccinated to get there. Current estimates are that herd immunity should be reached sometime in the Spring or Summer of 2021. Until then, it’s important to continue to take precautions such as frequent handwashing and wearing a mask in public, even if you’ve had the vaccine yourself.
Home Care Powered by AUAF is Here to Help
Having an in-home care aide can make a big difference when it comes to avoiding scams. People who solicit for scams are less likely to do so if there is someone in the home besides an elderly person, and an at-home caregiver can help seniors determine what calls are legitimate and what calls are scams. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us to find out more about how Home Care Powered by AUAF can help.
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