What to know about coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, call your doctor to discuss. Keep track of your symptoms and if you have an emergency warning sign (such as trouble breathing), get medical attention right away.
COVID-19 Vaccines and How to Schedule a Vaccine Appointment
Go online to My Turn, California's statewide vaccine scheduling portal. Here, you can check your eligibility and make an appointment at available locations (retail pharmacies, doctor's offices, and community vaccine clinics). As always, if you have questions or concerns, you should call your doctor.
COVID-19 Booster Shots:
- Booster shots are now available at most pharmacies and walk-in clinics and WHA covers them at no cost to you. When you are eligible for a booster shot, you may choose from whatever vaccine is available.
- Those eligible for the booster shot are:
- individuals over age 60 and with specific health-related risk factors (such as a weak immune system)
- Work in/resident of a long-term care facility or nursing home
- 18 yrs and older at risk for COVID-19 complications or in a job/location with high exposure
- The Food and Drug Administration has recently authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for adolescents 12-15 years old and at least 5 months after the second vaccine.
- Note for Medicare beneficiaries, on April 6, CMS announced it will pay for a second COVID-19 booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines without cost-sharing, as it continues to provide coverage for this critical protection from the virus. People with Medicare pay nothing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible. People with Medicaid coverage can also get COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, at no cost. See CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.
Vaccines for Children:
As of 11/3/21, the CDC and FDA have approved that children ages 5-11 are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Specifically, the only vaccine approved for young children is the Pfizer two-shot, child dose. The child-size dose is about 1/3 of the dose received by adults/teens. The vaccine will be available at retail pharmacies and some walk-in clinics. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are available at no cost. Check with your pediatrician, medical group, or pharmacy on availability for your child.
Our Medical Groups (where you see your doctor) is a good resource for vaccine information and each is linked below:
Also, check local retail pharmacies to get a vaccine appointment at the following:
Please keep in mind that COVID-19 vaccines and distribution is a dynamic and fluid situation, which can change often with new guidelines from federal/state/local governments. Continue to monitor publicly available information, as well as that from your PCP, medical group, and WHA’s website. The CDC is also a good resource for the latest on vaccines.
WHA is waiving all treatment costs associated with COVID-19 care in an effort to alleviate any unnecessary stress or out-of-pocket costs to impacted members. This financial assistance will apply to treatment between February 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. This includes copayments and deductibles, if applicable, for office visits and hospitalization, and for services related to the treatment of COVID-19.
WHA is following the Biden Administration’s strategy for getting COVID-19 at-home diagnostics tests more widely available. The administration is currently distributing 500 million free rapid tests across America. You may order up to eight free tests per household, mailed directly to your home, by visiting https://www.covidtests.gov/
Beginning January 15, 2022, at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be covered at no cost for WHA members (with limits on reimbursement as outlined by regulatory guidance, see below). WHA is providing two ways for members with active WHA coverage to get an over-the-counter COVID-19 at-home diagnostic test(s):
1. Reimbursement: WHA members who purchase an FDA-approved COVID-19 diagnostic test on or after January 15, 2022, will be able to submit a reimbursement request form, with a scanned receipt, for the cost paid up to $12 per diagnostic test. This is only available to active WHA members, per FDA EUA guidance, with a limit of eight (8) tests per calendar month. Members will need to save receipts and attest/sign that tests will be used for personal use, will not be used for employment purposes, and will not be resold. Reimbursement is only for FDA-approved, at-home test kits (see a full list here). A Claim Reimbursement webpage is available through the WHA Pharmacy partner OptumRx at https://covidtest.optumrx.com/covid-test-reimbursement and will accept receipts dated on or after January 15, 2022. A printed claims form may also be submitted. Note: CalPERS members should check details on the CalPERS webpage.
2. At a preferred, in-network pharmacy for $0: Visit a preferred test pickup pharmacy (see list below), simply show your WHA ID Card and the pharmacist will dispense the at-home test(s) at no charge at the time of pickup. You will not need to submit a reimbursement form. Test kits may be limited to available stock on hand at pharmacy locations, with limits explained above, and only available at no cost at the pharmacy counter.
Additional pharmacy locations joining the Preferred Network for Test Pickup (as of Feb. 15, 2022)
- Sam's Club
WHA MyCare Medicare Advantage Members
Beginning April 4, 2022 (and until the COVID-19 public health emergency/PHE ends), those with Medicare Part B can get up to eight free over-the-counter tests for the month of April any time before April 30, and can then get another set of eight free over-the-counter tests during each subsequent calendar month through the end of the COVID-19 PHE. You can get over-the-counter COVID-19 tests at a retail pharmacy. You should bring your red, white, and blue Medicare card to get your free tests (even if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan through WHA). For more details go to www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/medicare-covers-over-counter-covid-19-tests.
Also, WHA Medicare Advantage members (MyCare, MyCare Plus, and MyCare Select) can purchase additional COVID-19 Antigen self-tests through FirstLine Essentials, WHA’s provider for over-the-counter (OTC) care at no cost when using their quarterly allowance. Each test kit contains 2 tests per box and costs $25 per box, which would be credited to your account. Go to ShopFirstLineBenefits.com or download the FirstLine Benefits app on your phone or tablet to purchase tests.
WHA will cover the cost of the test to determine if you currently have COVID-19. If you believe you have been exposed and want to get tested, WHA members may access testing from any provider without prior authorization or referral from their doctor.
WHA does not cover testing for a specific workplace testing program required by your employer. WHA continues to follow state and federal guidance on benefit coverage of COVID-19 by health plans, which clearly outlines that health plans are not required to pay for monitoring and screening required for employment purposes. This includes COVID testing that unvaccinated employees are required to undergo and any other testing required for employment purposes.
Some elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures, may be re-scheduled. If you have a procedure scheduled or need to schedule a procedure, please call your doctor's office for the latest information.
Test and Treatment Location Finder
COVID-19 medication is now available through your doctor, local pharmacies, and health clinics. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, do not wait to get treated. You may take an oral COVID-19 medication within 5 days of your first COVID-19 symptoms.
Federal Government is making available a list of "test and treat" pharmacy locations where patients exhibiting symptoms can get tested and receive treatment prescriptions if the test is positive. Visit https://covid-19-test-to-treat-locator-dhhs.hub.arcgis.com/ to learn more.
WHA is closely monitoring drug shortages listed on the FDA website. Your pharmacy also has up-to-date information from its suppliers regarding drug shortages. If you are affected by a drug shortage, your pharmacy can assist you or contact your prescribing provider to discuss alternative treatment options. If for some reason you are not able to access your current supply of prescription medications, or if you need an additional supply, you or your physician can call WHA Member Services to request an early refill at 888.563.2250. Note: CalPERS members should contact OptumRx at 855.505.8110 for early refill requests.
Members are encouraged to fill their maintenance prescriptions through OptumRx's mail order program. This not only avoids you having to wait in line at the pharmacy during the COVID-19 outbreak, but it can give you up to a 90-day supply of your medication and may also save you money. To sign up for mail order, contact OptumRx at 844.568.4150 or 855.505.8110 for CalPERS members.
You may also receive a 90-day supply of maintenance prescriptions by using the Select90 program at Walgreens or CVS Pharmacies.
Exception: Early refills for controlled prescription medications will continue to require a prior authorization request to be received from your prescribing physician. Controlled substance prescriptions can be filled by the OptumRx mail order pharmacy, but must be sent by your physician through a certified electronic prescribing system (EPCS certified). Paper or Fax prescriptions will not be filled. If you chose to use mail order for your controlled prescription medication needs, contact your doctor to make sure they are able to send these prescriptions electronically.
Urgent or Specialty Medication Needs
- For urgent medication needs, continue to visit your local pharmacy.
- For specialty medication needs, continue to use the mail order option through OptumRx Specialty Pharmacy.
- For assistance, contact OptumRx Specialty Pharmacy at 855.427.4682 or 855.821.7217 for CalPERS members.
Members can find a participating pharmacy online or by contacting WHA Member Services at 888.563.2250. Note: CalPERS members can find a participating pharmacy by searching online or by contacting OptumRx at 855.505.8110.
Looking for Health Coverage?
During this time, finding or keeping your health coverage is more important than ever. We are here to help you stay healthy and facilitate the care you need when you need it. Let us help you find the plan that's right for you.
Virtual Visits with Your Doctor
Medical services continue to be available in-person based on your WHA medical plan benefits. Many physicians, health professionals, clinics and facilities also offer telehealth options. Get care without leaving the comfort of home — or your office. Learn more about the telehealth services available through our provider partners.
Urgent Care from Teladoc®
WHA members have access to virtual urgent care with Teladoc. Connect with an urgent care healthcare professional for minor injuries and illnesses such as cold or flu, minor cuts or burns, muscle strains or sprains, upset stomach or skin rashes, without having to go to an urgent care facility.
*When receiving urgent care telehealth services through Teladoc, all services shall be provided consistent with existing appointment standards and access requirements. If your plan has out-of-area benefits, members can access services either via telehealth or on an in-person basis. Certain conditions apply. Review your plan documents for details on cost-sharing and balance billing protections.
Crisis Line from Magellan
WHA's behavioral health partner, Magellan Healthcare, opened a free 24-hour crisis line (1.800.327.7451) for anyone who needs help during these times.
You have 24/7 access to a nurse advice line staffed with registered nurses through Nurse24. You can speak directly with a nurse at 877.793.3655 or use the online chat feature.
Connect With Your Doctor
Your medical group may offer an online service to email your doctor, request prescription refills, schedule an appointment, view lab test results, or access your medical record
Chat with or Send Message to WHA Member Services
Have a question about your benefits or coverage? During business hours, you can chat online with a WHA member service representative. You can also send a secure message 24/7. Both are available by logging into your MyWHA account and visiting the website's Contact Us page.
Handouts and posters created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the novel coronavirus?
The novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus never identified before now. Referred to as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), it is very different than the common coronavirus seen in humans that cause the common cold and other mild illnesses. The COVID-19 was identified first in Wuhan, China, and has spread globally.
Is there a test for it?
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your doctor for medical advice. Do keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19, and people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Learn more about what is known about the spread of COVID-19.
How can I help protect myself?
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Social distancing is still the best way to help protect yourself and to prevent the spread of the virus.
- When it becomes necessary to go out in public and where social distancing is difficult, the CDC recommends using face coverings. The use of face coverings is a preventive measure to help slow the spread of the virus and to help those who do not know they have the virus from transmitting it to others.
- Remember to continue practicing these preventive measures, and stay safe.
- Stay home, especially if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick. Leave only when necessary to restock essential supplies (food, medications, toilet paper, etc.)
- Maintain social distancing
- Avoid becoming in contact with those who are sick. Keep at least six (6) feet between you and those around you. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm (preferred) water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Is there a covered vaccine?
WHA will cover the vaccine and its administration without a copayment or deductible once the vaccines are FDA-approved for public use.
Is there a treatment?
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.
Visit the CDC website for the latest information on COVID-19.
Learn about the latest updates at the California Department of Public Health.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, roll-out, and trials in our area, visit the following public websites:
- COVID19.ca.gov for details on California’s COVID-19 vaccination plan
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html
- California Department of Public Health - https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID-19Vaccine.aspx
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-vaccines
Last review date: June 6, 2022