COVID-19 Information for Members
COVID-19: The Basics
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated its list of COVID-19 symptoms to include a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus.
If you have any of the emergency warning signs below, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room:
- Trouble breathing.
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
- New confusion.
- Inability to wake or stay awake.
- Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds (depending on skin tone).
Please call your doctor if you have any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
For people with chronic illnesses or the elderly, the symptoms can be more severe and life threatening. People with asthma and other chronic conditions are at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19. The CDC provides this Self-Checker as a guide to help you make decisions on when to seek testing and appropriate medical care.
If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you may get tested for COVID-19. You might also need to stay home. If you think you have COVID-19, follow CDC guidelines for What to Do If You Are Sick. Make sure to follow the most up-to-date guidelines for quarantine and isolation.
Monitor your symptoms and get immediate medical care if you have emergency warning signs. These include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, not able to wake or stay awake, or blue-colored skin, lips and/or nails.
If you are unable to see your doctor and you do not need emergency care, Alliance members can also call the Nurse Advice Line (NAL). A registered nurse will help you decide what to do next. The NAL is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. It’s fast, easy and at no cost to you. Call: 844-971-8907. TTY: Dial 711.
A new program is available called Test to Treat. The COVID-19 treatments help people recover faster or protect certain people who have a weakened immune system. COVID-19 medications are now available through your doctor, local pharmacies and health clinics. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, you can get medication treatment right away.
- Visit How Test to Treat Works for Individuals and Families, which includes a Test to Treat locator.
- Don’t Delay: Test Soon and Treat Early has important Test to Treat reminders from the CDC.
COVID-19 testing is available to everyone. It is free and private! Find a testing site near you.
Free at-home COVID-19 tests are also available.
Every home in the country can order a limited amount of free at-home COVID-19 tests. To place an order, visit COVIDtests.gov - Free at-home COVID-19 tests. Enter your name and address where you live. No other information is needed. The tests will be sent in the mail through the U.S. Postal Service within 7-12 days after ordering them. You can also enter an email address to get email notices with shipping updates.
Learn more about at-home tests on the CDC’s Self-Testing At Home or Anywhere page.
Free at-home COVID-19 tests are available at pharmacies!
Medi-Cal members can go to a pharmacy to get at-home COVID-19 tests at no cost. Here are some important things to know about how to get these tests:
- The tests must come from a pharmacy that provides Medi-Cal members with their prescription benefit, called Medi-Cal Rx.
- The pharmacy will need a prescription from your doctor or pharmacist in order for you to get at-home COVID-19 tests at no cost. The pharmacist can write you the prescription when you go in to ask for your tests.
- Your doctor can order more tests if needed.
Members can also get reimbursed for the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests that were bought between March 11, 2021 and January 31, 2022. To get reimbursed, members will need to have a receipt that shows that they paid for the tests. Visit the DHCS website for reimbursement information.
If someone in your household contracts COVID-19, you should take steps to be sure that you and others in your household stay safe. Please see the CDC guidelines on how to care for someone sick at home.
If you had COVID-19, follow the most up-to-date guidelines for quarantine and isolation. The CDC provides information about when you can leave your home and be around other people.
You will not be charged co-pays or cost sharing for medically necessary screenings and tests done for COVID-19. This includes hospital, emergency department, urgent care visits, and doctor office visits where the purpose of the visit is to be screened and/or tested for COVID-19.
There is no cost for at-home COVID-19 tests that come from a pharmacy that is enrolled in Medi-Cal Rx.
COVID-19: Vaccine Information
Who can get the COVID-19 vaccines?
Everyone 6 months and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for yourself or for your child, talk to your doctor or visit the CDC website.
What COVID-19 vaccine should I get and when?
To learn which COVID-19 vaccine is right for you and your family, view the COVID-19 Vaccination Schedules chart. It shows which vaccine types are right for different age groups and when to get each dose. It has a routine schedule chart and a chart for those who are at moderate or severe risk.
COVID-19 booster shots are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Booster shots are recommended for adults and children who are at least 5 years old.
For more information on choosing your COVID-19 booster shot and who can get a booster shot, please visit the CDC’s booster shot webpage.
The CDC gives special instructions for additional primary shots and booster shots for people who have weak immune systems, also known as immunocompromised. For more information, visit the CDC’s webpage for COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised People.
You can schedule a booster shot on the MyTurn website or call 833-422-4255. You can also call your doctor to schedule a booster shot.
Updated COVID-19 bivalent boosters
As of September 1, 2022, the CDC recommends updated COVID-19 bivalent boosters for those who are eligible to get a booster.
The updated boosters are called "bivalent" because they help protect you from the original coronavirus strain as well as from the newer Omicron strains.
For information on choosing your COVID-19 bivalent booster and who can get the updated booster, please visit the CDC’s booster webpage.
You can schedule a booster appointment on the Vaccines.gov website. To find a location that offers the bivalent booster, select the “Newly Authorized Bivalent” boxes under the section “Show COVID19 Vaccines and Boosters.”
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Information on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines is available on the CDC’s webpage.
Medi-Cal members can get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.
- The COVID-19 vaccine is one of the safest ways our communities and lives can return to a more normal state, more quickly.
- The Alliance is committed to supporting you and your family’s health.
You can help protect yourself and the people around you by getting the vaccine
- Help protect your whole family by getting yourself and your children 6 months and older vaccinated against COVID-19
- The COVID-19 vaccines can now be given at the same time as other vaccines
- The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age.
- Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is an important step to help prevent getting sick from COVID-19.
- After the COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. These are normal signs that your body is building protection.
- If you are fully vaccinated and boosted, you will still need to follow guidance required by federal, state, and local authorities, or at your workplace and local businesses.
- Homebound members have many available resources to them if they are interested in getting the vaccine at their home on the MyTurn.gov website.
- Sign up online on California’s COVID-19 registration website.
- Call California’s hotline for COVID-19 information. A live person will help you register for vaccine appointments. To use the service:
- Call 833-422-4255.
- You will hear 7 menu options. On your phone’s keypad, press 1 for English, press 2 for Spanish or press 3 for other languages.
- The service is available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- If you have questions about the vaccines, visit your county public health department’s website:
Pregnant people are more at risk of getting very sick with COVID-19 compared to people who are not pregnant. If you are pregnant and get COVID-19, you are also more at risk of pregnancy complications like high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, death and stillbirth.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you can still get the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the vaccine while you are pregnant can help protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.
If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor. You can also read the CDC guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding to learn more. (Note: This page is only available in English and Spanish.)
Phone number: 209-381-1200 (Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
To learn more about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Phone number: 831-769-8700 (Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Phone number: 831-454-4242 (Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Never share your personal health information or your Social Security Number, credit card number or bank account information with unknown individuals.
Remember, Medi-Cal members will receive COVID-19 vaccines at no cost.
If you believe you have been a victim of a COVID-19 scam, please report it online to the Federal Trade Commission.
You can also call the hotline for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General at 800- HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).
You might hear rumors about the COVID-19 vaccine, and you may have questions. It is important to get vaccine information from reliable sources. These include:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Your county’s public health department ( Merced | Monterey | Santa Cruz).
- Your primary care provider (PCP).
- Getting a vaccine will not give you COVID-19.
The vaccines do not contain the live virus. This means they cannot make you sick with COVID-19.
- The COVID-19 vaccines do not have severe side effects in most people.
Many people experience mild to moderate signs that their body is building protection after getting a vaccine. These can include muscle aches, tiredness, headache, fever or soreness where you got the injection. Side effects often last for a day or two. But since any new medication can cause an allergic reaction in a small number of people, you will be asked to stay for observation for a short period after you’ve received the shot.
- When you get the vaccine, you will not be asked for information about your immigration status.
The vaccine is available to the public regardless of immigration status.
- You should get vaccinated even if you have had COVID-19.
Research shows that the consequences of COVID-19 can be severe. Even if you have recovered from having COVID-19, there is not enough information to know if you are protected from getting it again. Get the vaccine even if you have had COVID-19 in the past.
- COVID-19 vaccines do not make people infertile.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility. There is also no evidence that getting the vaccine can cause women to miscarry. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
- The COVID-19 vaccine will not change your DNA.
The COVID-19 vaccines are designed to give your body instructions to fight the coronavirus. There is no way the vaccine can change the DNA of your cells.
- You should still practice safety measures after you’ve been vaccinated.
Follow CDC guidelines. You can find the most up-to-date COVID-19 safety recommendations on the CDC page for How to Protect Yourself and Others. Follow all precautions when required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
Prevent Getting Sick
There is a medicine that may help prevent immunocompromised people ages 12 years and older from getting COVID-19. “Immunocompromised” means that someone has a weakened immune system.
The medicine is called Evusheld™. Evusheld™ is given in two injections and is recommended every six months. It is available at no cost to Alliance members.
For more details, read our news article on Evusheld™.
You can now get free N95 masks from health centers or participating pharmacies. An N95 mask that fits well will offer better protection against COVID-19.
To find out where you can get the N95 masks, visit the CDC’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program page Find Free Masks (N95 Respirators) or search for a health center near you.
Follow the county’s guidelines for masks.
- Each county may have specific requirements for wearing a mask. Check the county COVID-19 website to see where masks are required or are strongly recommended.
- Always follow all precautions when required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
You are fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single dose vaccine.
- Wash your hands.
Prevent the spread of germs by washing your hands often. Use hand sanitizer when you do not have access to soap and water.
- Stay home if you are sick and avoid contact with anyone who may be sick.
- Seek medical attention if you are having COVID-19 symptoms.
If you or someone you live with are at high risk, extra precautions are advised. These precautions include avoiding things like hugging, kissing or sharing food or drinks.
For more information on how to limit risks when living with others, visit the CDC website.
Some providers may be able to provide some of your services through a telehealth visit. These visits offer high quality care without you needing to leave your home and are a safe way to receive medical care without going to your doctor’s office. Telehealth visits may involve having a live video or phone conversation with your provider.
Other telehealth visits may involve sharing information with your provider without a live conversation. It is important that both you and your provider agree that the use of a telehealth visit for a particular service is appropriate for you.
Internet access or a computer is not always needed, but you may need access to a smart phone or tablet to complete a telehealth visit. If you do not have access to a computer or the internet, you may be able to make an appointment for a telehealth visit with your doctor over the phone. If you need care, call your doctor to see if telehealth visits are an option.
If you are unable to see your doctor, Alliance members can call the Alliance Nurse Advice Line (NAL) and a registered nurse will help you decide what to do next. Call: 844-971-8907 or (TTY: Dial 7-1-1).
Seeking Medical Care and Filling My Prescriptions
Checking in regularly with your doctor can help you prevent disease and stay healthy. It is important to keep scheduled doctor visits to stay on track with your health goals. If you are still unsure if you should keep your appointment or reschedule, call your doctor.
Visit our Check In, Check Up page for more information on why it is important to keep your well-check and preventative care doctor appointments.
Well-child visits and routine vaccines are important for your child’s overall health. We highly encourage you to keep your child’s scheduled doctor visits to stay on track with his or her health goals. If you are unsure if you should keep your child’s appointment or reschedule, call your child’s doctor.
Visit our Check In, Check Up page for more information on why it is important to keep your child’s well-child visits to the doctor.
Yes. During your pregnancy and after the birth of your child, regular visits with your doctor are important to help keep you and your baby healthy. At these visits, your doctor will see how you and your baby are doing, this also includes maternal mental health care. If you think you may have been exposed or have been sick with COVID-19, you are still encouraged to keep your scheduled doctor visits to stay on track with your health plan goals. If you are unsure, call your doctor for more information or to schedule a visit. You can also visit the Staying Healthy page or call the Health Education Line at 800-700-3974, ext. 5580 (TTY: Dial 711), to learn about prenatal and postpartum care programs offered by the Alliance.
COVID-19 Vaccine Videos
Stress and Coping
- The Alliance contracts with a company called Beacon Health Options (Beacon) to help you connect with the mental health services you need. Call Beacon at 855-765-9700 to speak with someone who can help.
Resources for Children and Adolescents
- CDC information for families and children.
- Managing stress for parents/caregivers and children.
- For more information on COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens, visit the CDC website.
Resources for Older Adults
- The State of California’s Aging and Adults Info Line connects to local Area Agencies on Aging. Call 800-510-2020. For the Hearing or Speech Assistance Line, call 800-735-2929 (TTY: Dial 7-1-1).
- The California Department of Aging has developed a new activity guide and weekly planner, "Feeling Good & Staying Connected".