💉 A new COVID-19 vaccine is now readily available

💉 The federal government no longer distributes the vaccine

💉 Some CVS locations are running short of supply

With a renewed push for COVID-19 shots as an updated vaccine is released and a change in funding, many are wondering if the vaccine is still free.

The short answer is yes.

During the pandemic, the cost of the jabs including boosters was covered by the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency declaration. That declaration ended on May 23. In addition, during the pandemic, the federal government bought up all the COVID-19 supply and distributed it to all groups and organizations who wanted it regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.

The cost of a COVID shot

With the end of the public health emergency, the COVID-19 vaccine is now commercial and can cost between $115 and $128 per dose, according to the Kaiser Foundation.

The Affordable Care Act and pandemic laws keeps it covered for anyone with private or public insurance.

Cheat sheet of COVID-19 vaccine insurance coverage
Cheat sheet of COVID-19 vaccine insurance coverage (KFF)

A plan for the uninsured

As many as 30 million adults who are uninsured, however, have no guarantee the cost of their shot will be covered.

The Department of Heatlh & Human Services has launched the HHS Bridge Access Program For COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments Program. It is a $1 billion program managed by the CDC that covers the cost of the vaccination at CVS, Walgreens, and eTrueNorth, through existing public health infrastructure, and at local health centers. They will receive a per dose payment to cover administrative costs much the way was done during the pandemic.

The program is in effect through December 2024.

COVID vaccine shortages

There have also been cases where people who made appointments for the shot at CVS stores found there was no vaccine available when they arrived. CVS spokeswoman Amy Thibault told New Jersey 101.5 that pharmacies receive their vaccine from suppliers on a rolling basis and unexpected delivery delays can happen

"We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and will continue to offer additional appointments at those locations as supply is received. To determine if a specific location has appointments available, customers can utilize our digital scheduler at CVS.com and the CVS Pharmacy app which shows real-time availability," Thibault said.

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