Vaccinations will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Staying up-to-date on vaccinations is the most important thing we all can do to protect ourselves from serious illness due to COVID-19. It’s particularly crucial for older adults and people with disabilities
Updated (bi-valent) vaccinations are now available. CDC recommends that people ages 5 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose. Use this CDC tool to find out when you should get a booster.
Need help getting vaccinated (including booster shots)?
Trained staff are standing by to help you find vaccine locations, make appointments, and connect to local services and supports if you need them to access vaccines. They also can help with ordering free at-home test kits through the program announced by the White House on January 14, if you cannot access the online order form, and connect you to information to answer questions or concerns you may have about the vaccine.
- For people with disabilities: The Disability Information and Assistance Line (DIAL) can be reached by calling 888-677-1199 or by emailing DIAL@usaginganddisability.org any time.
- For older adults: Call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 or visit the website to chat live or browse resources.
Both phone lines are staffed Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern).
Just need to find a COVID-19 vaccine location in the U.S?
- Visit Vaccines.gov,
- Text your ZIP code to 438829, or
- Call 1-800-232-0233.
CDC Guidance for Booster Shots
Although an initial COVID-19 vaccination remains effective in preventing severe disease, data suggest vaccination becomes less effective over time, and many vaccinated people are experiencing waning immunity. A booster helps keep protection up.
First Booster Dose
CDC now recommends booster shots for everyone 5 years old and older.
When you should get a booster varies depending on which vaccine you received initially:
- Johnson & Johnson/Janssen: You should get a booster if you received your shot at least TWO months ago.
- Pfizer-BioNTech: You should get a booster if you received your second shot at least FIVE months ago.
- Moderna: You should get a booster if you received your second shot at least FIVE months ago.
Second Booster Dose
CDC recommends a second booster dose at least four months after your first booster shot for the following groups:
- Adults 50 years old and older
- Anyone 12 years old and older who is immunocompromized.
- Adults who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine for BOTH their primary dose and booster dose.
Which Vaccine can I get?
- If you are 18+: Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna are recommended for most people -- either may be selected, regardless of which you received initially. The CDC website explains when the J&J/Janssen vaccine may be considered.
CDC Guidance for people who are immunocompromised
People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and may not build the same level of immunity from the standard primary vaccine series as people who are not immunocompromised. Therefore, CDC recommends an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone who is moderately or severely immunocompromised at the time of vaccination. When to get the additional dose depends on which vaccine you received initially.
- Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna: A third doses should be administered at least 28 days after the second dose. "Mix-and-match" is NOT recommended for additional dosages; people receiving an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine should receive the same vaccine they received initially.
- Johnson & Johnson/Janssen: People who are 18 and older who received the J&J/Janssen vaccine should receive a second shot using an mRNA vaccine at least four weeks after receiving the first shot.
Keep in mind: This is NOT the same as a booster shot, if you are 12 or older you should also get a booster shot. When you should get your booster shot depends on which primary vaccination you received.
- If your FIRST shot was Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna: you should get a booster three months after the THIRD dose in the primary series.
- If your FIRST shot was J&J/Janssen: you should get a booster TWO months after receiving your second shot.
The facts about COVID-19 vaccinations
- CDC Resources
- ACL's Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center's 4-page plain language booklet was created by and for people with intellectual disabilities. It includes basic information people need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Additional plain-language fact sheets are available from the Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.
- The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) has COVID-19 vaccine materials specifically designed for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have extreme low literacy including "How I get my COVID-19 shot" and a "Stay safe from COVID-19 Poster".
- Plain-language vaccine resources for people with developmental disabilities from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN):
- The Association of University Centers on Disability: Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccine distribution considerations for the disability community.
- CDC announced a clinical preference in favor of individuals receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech) over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. CDC does state that, "Individuals who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine will continue to have access to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine."
- The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) created GetOutTheVaccine.org, a website that provides trusted sources to help you make the right decision for you, your family, and your community.
- The U.S. Surgeon General’s Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation provides specific guidance to individuals, health care professionals and administrators, teachers, school administrators, librarians, and faith leaders to understand, identify, and stop the spread of health misinformation in their communities.
- The National Center for State Courts, the American Bar Association, and the National Guardianship Association have released a two-page brochure addressing common questions about guardians and the COVID-19 vaccine for long-term care facility residents.
- VaxForAll by InfiniTeach has developed a printable Vaccine Appointment Gameplan and Vaccine Appointment Checklist for people with autism.
Vaccines and long-term care facilities
A recording and materials are now available for the recent webinar, Accelerating boosters to support safe visitation for long-term care residents: watch on YouTube and download a list of resources presented during the webinar. The webinar, hosted by ACL and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, explored the important role families play in residents’ decisions to get boosters and how families can help their loved ones get fully protected. It also discussed strategies for ACL’s networks to effectively engage families on the importance of boosters. Speakers from CMS and the White House COVID-19 Response Team shared the latest information on boosters.
ACL/CDC partnership to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines for older adults and people with disabilities
ACL will award two grants totaling $125 million to rapidly increase the number of older adults and people with disabilities who have received the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Applications are due by Tuesday, December 6, 2022.
The two grants will have complementary, but distinct, areas of focus:
- Option A ($75 million): Will establish and leverage partnerships and engagement with area agencies on aging, state No Wrong Door systems/aging and disability resource centers, centers for independent living, other ACL-funded disability networks, and other community-based organizations that serve older adults and people with disabilities.
- Option B ($50 million): Will build and leverage partnerships with senior centers, community centers, and local community- and faith-based organizations that reach older adults and people with disabilities.
Both programs will prioritize reaching older adults and people with disabilities who have been historically underserved and who face additional barriers to accessing vaccines, including but not limited to those who are from communities of color, LGBTQ+, Native American, live in rural areas, are at risk of institutionalization, low income, or have limited English proficiency. The grantees selected for each option will closely coordinate efforts to ensure their activities are complementary, rather than duplicative.
For more information, including complete eligibility and application information, see the full Notice of Funding Opportunity.
On March 29, President Biden announced several actions to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, including an exciting partnership between ACL and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase vaccine access for people with disabilities and older adults.
These grants will provide assistance with scheduling vaccine appointments, transportation to vaccine sites, direct support services needed to attend vaccine appointments, connection to in-home vaccination options, and education about the importance of receiving the vaccine to older adults and people with disabilities. In addition, these grants will enable the aging and disability networks to identify people who are unable to independently travel to vaccination sites and to provide technical assistance to local health departments on improving access to vaccines for people with disabilities and older adults.
Approximately $5 million will fund national hotlines to connect older adults and people with disabilities with local disability and aging agencies that can assist with vaccine registration and provide services and supports necessary to get the vaccine. This funding will increase the capacity of the Eldercare Locator, a nationwide service funded by ACL that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources. It also will leverage the infrastructure of the Eldercare Locator to provide, for the first time, a similar service for people with disabilities.
An additional $93 million will be distributed as follows:
- State Units on Aging and Area Agencies on Aging ($50 million)
- Aging and Disability Resource Centers ($26 million)
- Centers for Independent Living that receive federal funding directly from ACL. ($5 million)
- University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities ($4 million)
- Protection and Advocacy systems ($4 million)
- State Councils on Developmental Disabilities ($4 million)
ACL guidance for the aging and disability networks
- ACL-CDC partnership to increase vaccine access: Funding FAQs for Developmental Disabilities Act programs (Posted April 14):
- ACL's COVID Vaccination FAQs for the Aging Network. This FAQ answers questions about vaccination administration and associated activities and costs.
- Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccine Access Funding for No Wrong Door Systems/Aging and Disability Resource Centers
Expanding vaccine access for people with disabilities and older adults
In November 2022, Acting ACL Administrator Alison Barkoff joined an online discussion with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about the power of partnerships in increasing bivalent vaccination of older adults and people with disabilities. Representatives from two ACL-funded aging and disability service providers — Walter Glomb, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Bev Kidder , vice president of community programs at the Area Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut — also participated in the discussion, sharing powerful stories of how collaboration can help older adults and people with disabilities get vaccinated.
Able South Carolina, Independent Living Resource Utilization (ILRU), and the CDC Foundation are expanding eligibility for grant-based funding to Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to support vaccination access for people with disabilities. Eligible CILs now include: Part B CILs that did not receive CARES Act funding, Part B CILs operating under a Part C CIL, Part C CILs not previously eligible for CARES Act funding in fiscal year 2020, and any Part B or Part C CIL working to improve COVID-19 vaccine access in unserved counties (funding must be used in underserved communities). Awards of up to $50,000 are anticipated. Interested eligible CILs are encouraged to apply for funding by completing an online application by 12:00 pm (noon) ET on Monday, January 24."Strategies for Helping Older Adults and People with Disabilities Access COVID-19 Vaccines" is a document developed by ACL that offers examples and promising practices for states, municipalities, community-based partners, and anyone else working to ensure that older adults and people with disabilities can get vaccinated for COVID-19.
A recording and slides from ACL's September 30, 2021 webinar, "Emergency Rental Assistance Program: Tools to Assist the People You Serve," are now available. View the webinar on YouTube for tools and information to help the people you serve learn more about, and apply for, Emergency Rental Assistance. The slides have links and additional useful information.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an additional payment amount for administering in-home COVID-19 vaccinations to Medicare beneficiaries who have difficulty leaving their homes or are otherwise hard-to-reach. This effort will help the approximately 1.6 million adults 65 or older who may have trouble accessing COVID-19 vaccinations because they have difficulty leaving home.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and HHS have released a toolkit to support community health centers and HUD-assisted housing and homeless programs to partner on COVID-19 vaccination delivery, COVID-19 testing, and health care for residents of public housing, low-income housing (including housing for older adults and people with disabilities), and people experiencing homelessness.
- To ensure Medicare beneficiaries who have difficulty leaving their homes or are otherwise hard-to-reach can receive COVID-19 vaccinations, CMS announced in August 2021 that health care providers can receive additional payments for administering vaccines to multiple residents in one home setting or communal setting of a home. This includes smaller group homes, assisted living facilities, and other group living situations.
- CDC: Vaccinating Homebound Persons
- CDC Community-Based Organizations Vaccine Toolkit
- HHS' We Can Do This campaign has developed English and Spanish vaccination education toolkits which include resources for older adults, caregivers, and aging organizations to build vaccine confidence.
- On May 11, CMS announced a new rule to improve COVID-19 vaccine access for older adults and people with disabilities in congregate settings. This new policy is a powerful step in furthering the Biden Administration’s commitment to equitable vaccine access and ensuring that those who are most at risk – including people living in congregate settings – have access. It also advances the Administration’s focus on racial equity by improving access to vaccines for staff, the majority of whom are women of color. This blog post by ACL Acting Administrator has more details.
- Transportation resources:
- Individuals may be eligible for a free ride with Uber through the Vaccine Access Fund. Reach the service by calling their partner, GoGoGrandparent at (855) 921-0033 and say you would like to book a free ride to and from your vaccine location.
- Individuals may also be eligible for a free ride through a partnership between Lyft and United Way in certain states (AL, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, IN, LA, MD, MA, MO, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI). Visit lyft.com/vax to complete an online screening tool or call your state’s 2-1-1 United Way line.
- LISC, Uber, Paypal Giving Fund, and Walgreens have joined forces to create the Vaccine Access Fund addressing health inequities and facilitating rides to vaccination sites and other places where people can learn about the vaccine from trusted contacts. Organization interested in funding can complete this form.
- The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center has compiled a list of programs providing transportation or connecting older adults and people with disabilities to vaccination sites.
- The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is partnering with Lyft to provide older adults access to reliable, affordable rides to both of their COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Aging services professionals can help their older clients by using the special #LyftUp promo codes—worth up to $25 per person each way.
- FEMA blog: Easing the Vaccination Process for People with Developmental Disabilities."
- Interested in helping with the COVID-19 vaccination effort? Find out about the opportunity to join the COVID-19 Community Corps. This COVID-19 public education campaign will increase vaccine confidence while reinforcing basic prevention measures. Corps members Corps member receive resources to help build vaccine confidence in the community.
- The HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) released a brief on the potential barriers to accessing the COVID-19 vaccine faced by homebound older adults.
- The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has a webpage dedicated to "Engaging Community-Based Organizations: Promising Practices for Reaching At-Risk Individuals for COVID-19 Vaccination and Information." The page outlines the CMIST Framework and describes funding that may be available to CBOs to support vaccination assistance efforts.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an update to the Coverage and Reimbursement of COVID-19 Vaccines, Vaccine Administration, and Cost Sharing under Medicaid, CHIP, and BHP vaccine toolkit.
- The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has issued an FAQ and Guide to Supporting Vaccine Confidence for Faith and Community Leaders.
- All Department of Veterans Affairs facilities and clinics that administer COVID-19 vaccines are accepting walk-ins for eligible veterans, spouses and caregivers.
- An issue brief from AT3 highlights how state and territorial Assistive Technology Act programs are supporting vaccination efforts.
Beware of vaccination-related scams
Scammers rapidly alter their tactics and adapt their schemes to the changing landscape, and we anticipate that they will leverage the COVID-19 vaccine to prey on unsuspecting people. Be vigilant and protect yourself from potential fraud concerning COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
Here are things you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine:
- You likely will not need to pay anything out-of-pocket to get the vaccine during this public health emergency.
- You cannot pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
- You cannot pay to get early access to the vaccine.
- You will not be solicited door to door to receive the vaccine.
- No one from Medicare or the Health Department with contact you.
- No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine.
The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) is ready to provide you with the information you need to PROTECT yourself from Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse; DETECT potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and REPORT your concerns. SMPs help educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries in the fight against health care fraud. Your SMP can help you with your questions, concerns, or complaints about potential fraud and abuse issues. It also provides information and educational presentations. To locate your local Senior Medicare Patrol, call 1-877-808-2468 or visit www.smpresource.org.