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.
Latest Update: Effective October 12th, the CDC has expanded emergency use authorization for Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines; including updates on the newest bivalent boosters and age limit updates.
- Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent is authorized for administration at least two months following completion of primary or booster vaccination in children down to six years of age. Also, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Bivalent is authorized as a booster dose for individuals 6 years of age and older.
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent is authorized for administration at least two months following completion of primary or booster vaccination in children down to five years of age. And, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Bivalent is authorized as a booster dose as well in individuals 5 years of age and older.
- The CDC recommends that individuals seeking a COVID-19 booster, who are ages 5 years and older, should receive one of the new Bivalent vaccines.
- For more information: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent COVID-19 Vaccines for Use as a Booster Dose in Younger Age Groups | FDA
You can contact your doctor or 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. Please visit CDC for detailed recommendations on COVID-19 vaccinations.
Vaccine and Booster Shots:
- Everyone ages 6 months and older are eligible for the primary series of COVID-19 vaccine. Specific COVID-19 vaccine brands and doses have different ages, eligibility, and timing requirements. Check with your doctor, pediatrician, or pharmacy on availability for you and your family.
- COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots are widely available at most pharmacies and your WHA health plan covers them at no added cost to you.
- When you are eligible for a booster shot, you may choose from whatever vaccine is available. However, boosters and additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccine brands have different ages, eligibility, and timing requirements. Check with your doctor on what's right for you.
- Recommendations on vaccines boosters (by age)
- At age 4 and younger, a booster and additional doses are not currently available.
- Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system) are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death. Additionally, your immune response to COVID-19 vaccination may not be as strong as in people who are not immunocompromised. As with vaccines for other diseases, you are protected best when you stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines as described below.
- Recently, the CDC approved an "updated booster" known as the bivalent vaccine for ages 12 and older. This vaccine targets the newer, widely spread Omicron subvariants of the COVID-causing virus. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to get the latest COVID-19 booster shot. For useful information on the latest booster (as of 10-2022), see this flyer (and in Spanish).
- For Booster Recommendations by Age and detailed information on COVID-19 boosters, use this link to CDC's COVID-19 Booster Tool.
All of our Medical Groups (where you see your doctor) are good resources for vaccine information and are linked below:
Feel free to check your local retail pharmacies in your neighborhood to get a vaccine or booster 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.
COVID Testing and Treatment
COVID-19 medication is now available through your doctor, local retail pharmacy, 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 5-7 days of your first symptoms. If you test positive, please contact your doctor to determine if the COVID-19 medication is right for you. WHA highly recommends starting this medication as quickly as possible, if appropriate for you. Talk to your doctor about available options.
If for some reason you are not able to access prescription medication, call WHA Member Services.
Note: CalPERS members should contact OptumRx at 855.505.8110 for pharmacy orders/refills.
In January, the Biden Administration made COVID-19 at-home diagnostics tests more widely available by 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 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.
Pharmacies in the Preferred Network for At-home Test Pickup (as of Feb. 15, 2022) include RiteAid, Sam's Club, Walgreens, and Walmart.
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 before April 30, and can then get another set of eight free over-the-counter tests during each subsequent calendar months. You can also get over-the-counter COVID-19 tests at a retail pharmacy, but 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.
WHA Medicare Advantage MyCare members can purchase additional COVID-19 Antigen self-tests through FirstLine Essentials, WHA’s over-the-counter (OTC) products benefit (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 for contact information or to download their app.
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.
What else we're tracking: Monkeypox
WHA is closely following developments on the monkeypox virus. So far, the disease seems to spread mainly through prolonged, often skin-to-skin contact with people who have monkeypox. Nearly all patients have a fever and a raised bumpy rash. Patients are likely to remain contagious until the rash heals; the illness can last for 2-4 weeks. Visit the monkeypox page on cdc.gov for the latest information. If you have questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
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 your 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.
Nurse Advice 24/7
You have 24/7 access to a nurse advice line staffed with registered nurses. 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 a 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. COVID-19 was identified first in Wuhan, China, and has spread globally.
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), generally, when respiratory droplets are 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, and take these preventive measures:
- Get vaccinated and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. Vaccines are widely available for everyone ages 6 months and up.
- Use a mask or face covering to protect yourself and prevent the spread of the virus 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 treatment?
Yes! COVID-19 treatment options are available for people with mild to moderate symptoms, those in the hospital, and those who may not have symptoms but are at high risk of getting COVID-19, due to being exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. For more information, talk to your provider or visit the CDC website for the latest information on COVID-19.
Learn about the latest updates at the California Department of Public Health.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-vaccines
Last review date: October 24, 2022