While the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) authorized the most recent COVID-19 vaccine formulation in mid-September, and infections are rising, significant delays in product availability have created rush scenarios this fall.
The federal government stopped purchasing/distributing COVID vaccines in May. Without a government contract, manufacturers waited until mid-September — when the CDC authorized the final formula — to ramp up commercial production, testing, and distribution. This created a backlog of vaccine and clinic requests that, although CDC recommended that “fall” vaccines be completed by Halloween this year, realistically may extend administration into November.
Vaccine coverage for the uninsured
Now that COVID-19 vaccines have become commercialized, there has been uncertainty about whether people without health insurance (including healthcare workers) can get these vaccines without cost.
The CDC’s Bridge Access Program ensures that those who don’t have insurance coverage can get vaccinated without cost. For information and locations authorized to administer free vaccines, including many retail pharmacies, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/bridge/.
“The Bridge Access Program is designed to get rid of patient barriers to COVID-19 vaccines. The burden of patient eligibility verification will be on our healthcare systems, not on patients,” the CDC said in an FAQ published about the program.
For those with commercial or government health insurance, federal law requires plans to cover COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to you through providers within your insurer’s network.