A nursing home resident receives a booster shot

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Wednesday that it will pay for a second COVID-19 booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for all Medicare beneficiaries. 

Those with Medicare will pay nothing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance or deductible, the agency said. Individuals with Medicaid coverage can also get COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, at no cost.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. The update was in response to the Food and Drug Administration approving a second round of booster shots for seniors and people who are immunocompromised to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19. Additionally, the CDC recommends that adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least four months ago can receive a second booster dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The FDA’s decision to authorize a second booster was largely based on data from a study of more than 700,000 older patients in Israel, Marks added. That study found that an additional dose provided the most protection at about four months after receipt of an initial booster.

“The COVID-19 vaccine, including the booster doses, is the best defense against severe illness, hospitalization and death from the virus,” CMS wrote in a release Wednesday. “CMS continues to explore ways to ensure maximum access to COVID-19 vaccinations.” 

While the new booster recommendations do not substantially affect pandemic compliance requirements for nursing homes, facility operators should keep in mind that they are still required to both offer vaccination and to educate staff and residents about SARS-CoV-2 transmission prevention, noted Jodi Eyigor, director of nursing home quality and policy at industry advocate LeadingAge, in a post published late last week