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Category: Health & Wellness / Topics: COVID-19 Crime, Justice, Punishment Current Events, News Fraud Health Care News Risk Wellness

COVID Vaccine Information Scammers Don't Want You to Know

by Stu Johnson

Posted: December 26, 2020

Behind the good news of vaccines becoming available are scammers who prey on vulnerable seniors…

In the history of medicine, the rapid development of not just one, but multiple, vaccines against the COVID-19 virus is astounding. Equally astounding, but predictable, is the danger of scammers who already are seeking to enrich themselves at the cost of those they victimize, many of them seniors. Based on news reports and material from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, here is a brief update on the prospects for getting the vaccine and how to protect yourself from falling prey to scammers.

Following information about the COVID-19 vaccine, I have added information about annual flu shots, which you should not forget while we focus on the pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccinations

You've likely heard the good news that COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna have been approved by the FDA. There will initially be a limited supply of the vaccine. Initial doses of the vaccine will be made available to priority groups, such as:

  1. Health care personnel
  2. Residents of long-term care facilities, like nursing homes
  3. Phase 1B of the CDC recommended rollout plan calls for those 75 and older and front-line essential workers.
    This does not mean you will necessairly get it soon, it just establishes the overall priority. My wife asked me the other day if we should contact our priamry care doctor about the vaccine. Later that day we both received text messages from the medical group we're in asking people not to call them, which would burden their system, but wait until they contact us when it is our turn. Fortunately, that system has a good online resource for general information and tracking personal data.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are now working to distribute the vaccine to federally- and state-approved locations to start the vaccination of priority groups. State governments will handle the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Look for updates from your state or governor as more doses of the vaccine become available for additional priority groups.
While you're waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine [and even until a significant portion of the entire population has been vaccinated], continue to follow CDC's tips on protecting yourself and others — including social distancing, frequent hand-washing, wearing a mask, and limiting gatherings.

Medicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine, so there will be no cost to you. If anyone asks you to share your Medicare Number or pay for access to the vaccine, you can bet it's a scam.

Here's what to know:

  • You can't pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
  • You can't pay to get early access to a vaccine.
  • Don't share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee.

Con artists may try to get your Medicare Number or personal information so they can steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone.

Protect yourself from Medicare fraud. Guard your Medicare card like it’s a credit card. Remember:

  • Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
  • Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
  • You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Don’t do it. 
  • Medicare will never visit you at your home.
  • Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.

Learn more tips to help prevent Medicare fraud.

Check regularly for Medicare billing fraud. Review your Medicare claims and Medicare Summary Notices for any services billed to your Medicare Number you don’t recognize.

Learn more about how to spot fraud.

If you come across a COVID-19 vaccine scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission or call us at 1-800-MEDICARE. And check out for trustworthy information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

Don't forget your flu shot

If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, now's the time to do so. It's the most important step you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu. People who are 65 and older are at high risk of having serious health complications from the flu. Getting the flu shot protects you from getting the flu and keeps you from spreading it to others. 

Flu shots are covered for people with Medicare, when you get it from doctors or other health care providers that accept Medicare or your Medicare plan. Your doctor or other health care provider may recommend you get services more often than Medicare covers. Or, they may recommend services that Medicare doesn’t cover. If this happens, you may have to pay some or all of the costs. Ask questions so you understand why your doctor is recommending certain services and whether Medicare will pay for them.

Along with getting the flu shot, take these everyday steps to slow the spread of viruses like the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people and maintain social distance in public.
  • Wear a face covering, and cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands frequently.

Don't wait — get your flu shot as soon as possible!

Related resources

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Stu Johnson is principal of Stuart Johnson & Associates, a communications consultancy in Wheaton, Illinois. He is publisher and editor of SeniorLifestyle, writes the InfoMatters blog on his own website and contributes articles for SeniorLifestyle.

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Posted: December 26, 2020   Accessed 533 times

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