WASHINGTON — As pandemic emergency funding winds down, many Americans without insurance are wondering if they can get the new recommended COVID-19 booster shot for free.
While most insurance plans will cover all out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 vaccines, there is a temporary program that will provide free vaccines for a limited time to anyone underinsured or without health insurance.
The CDC's Bridge Access Program will help provide COVID-19 vaccines for the 25-30 million adults without insurance for a limited time only.
Officials say local providers will work with state and local health departments to distribute the vaccines through providers in networks. The CDC will buy and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to providers.
Health centers will also partner with state and local immunization programs to provide free vaccines to uninsured and underinsured adults.
Free vaccines through this temporary program will not be available after December 2024.
Officials say the CDC plans to negotiate modifications to CDC’s existing Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) contracts with CVS, Walgreens, and eTrueNorth in order to provide pharmacy-based vaccination services to uninsured adults in areas of low access.
Currently, CDC advisors recommend everyone 6 months and older get the updated COVID booster this fall.
These updated shots are designed to target the XBB.1.5 lineage of the omicron variant, which the currently circulating variants of the virus are descended from.
WUSA9 has reached out to the D.C., Virginia, and Maryland Departments of Health and Human Services to ask how expensive the vaccine could be for those uninsured or underinsured. So far, we have not received any comment.
The CDC’s Vaccines for Children program covers the costs of vaccines for children whose parents or guardians may be unable to afford them, including uninsured and underinsured children. However, this program only covers vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).