The U.S. will stop purchasing COVID-19 vaccines at a reduced price for all who want them and shift distribution to the private sector as soon as this summer, according to CNBC.
The background: The U.S. government has bought the vaccines directly from manufacturers, including Pfizer and Moderna, for the past two years and has required doctor’s offices, hospitals and pharmacies to provide them free of charge to all.
What’s next? “When the federal Covid vaccination program ends, the shots will remain free for people who have health insurance due to requirements under the Affordable Care Act.”
- Uninsured adults may need to pay for their vaccines once the transition to the private market takes place. There is a federal program to give free vaccines to children whose caretakers cannot afford to pay for them.
- Medicare will cover the cost of the shots for seniors, and Medicaid could provide the vaccines to lower-income individuals.
More context: The change is not related to the coming end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said.
- “‘The end of the [public health emergency] does NOT mean people will suddenly not be able to get the vaccines and treatments they need,’ Jha wrote in a Twitter thread Tuesday.”
Stockpile: Adults may still be able to get no-cost vaccinations and antiviral medication after the private-sector changeover, owing to still-high federal stockpiles.
- “Jha said Tuesday there are still millions of doses of Paxlovid and omicron boosters in the U.S. stockpile. ‘They will continue to be available for free to all Americans who need them,’ [he said].”