COLUMBUS – Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff, M.D., MBA Thursday said he remains confident that updated COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be readily available to Ohioans, including to those without insurance.
“If you have medical insurance, and that includes Medicare or Medicaid, vaccines should be covered as a preventive health service, which means you likely will have no out-of-pocket costs,” said Dr. Vanderhoff. “Those without insurance can take advantage of several programs to ensure they can continue to get free vaccines, as well.”
On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the updated vaccine, which has been formulated to better target the predominant variants currently circulating. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the vaccine for anyone age 6 months or older who had not received a vaccine in the past two months.
Supplies of the updated vaccine are expected to be available to providers by the end of this week.
In May, the federal government allowed the COVID-19 public-health emergency status to expire. That meant that the government would no longer be the sole supplier of vaccines. Providers now are purchasing the vaccine from manufacturers on the commercial market.
“As we head into fall and winter, which typically are when we see increases in respiratory viruses, it is important that Ohioans keep up with their vaccines,” Dr. Vanderhoff said.
ODH will continue to offer vaccines free of charge to eligible children, including those who are uninsured, through the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.
For uninsured adults, the CDC has created the Bridge Access Program, which will be in effect through the end of 2024. As part of that program, the CDC has contracted with CVS, Walgreens, and eTrue North pharmacies to allow them to continue offering free COVID-19 vaccinations to the uninsured. Individuals will be able to visit vaccines.gov to find providers participating in this program.
Nearly 75% of adult Ohioans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Vanderhoff encouraged all Ohioans to continue to stay up to date with their vaccines.