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  • Robert Alongi

CMS Recognizes January as "Poverty Awareness Month"

This month of January, CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has declared it Poverty Awareness Month. Because of the challenges patients with poverty have in addition to the COVID-19 virus impact, it has been recognized that these people are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. CMS and other federal programs are making a push to inform this population about the COVID-19 vaccine, how to obtain the necessary resources they need, and educate them on their health care coverage, costs, and utility of benefits.

As pharmacists, it is important to help this vulnerable population access the correct information and resources on the COVID-19 vaccine. Here are some helpful resources on the COVID-19 vaccine and other helpful resources:

  • Patients can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. People without health insurance or whose insurance does not provide coverage of the vaccine can also get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.

  • State governments are handling the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Look for updates from your state and local officials as more doses of the vaccine become available for additional priority groups.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) places people aged 65 and older and people with medical conditions that increase the risk of COVID-19 in Phase 1c. While state plans may vary, this makes most Medicare beneficiaries and many other vulnerable individuals eligible for the vaccine.

  • The CMS Office of Minority Health has compiled Federal resources as well as COVID-19 resources with fact sheets in multiple languages to assist organizations who work with those most vulnerable—such as older adults, those with underlying medical conditions, racial and ethnic minorities, rural communities, and people with disabilities.

  • See if your patients qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program or check on their health benefits if you already have coverage.

Once the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to them, it is important to promote the vaccine’s safety and encourage people to get a vaccine:

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