A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in the Peabody Institute Library in Peabody, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022.
Vanessa Leroy | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Biden administration on Thursday announced a program to provide free Covid vaccines to uninsured Americans through December 2024 after the federal government’s supply of shots runs out of this fall.
Those free shots, which the government is purchasing at a discount, will be available to the uninsured at pharmacies and 64 state and local health departments.
The Health and Human Services Department also is hoping that vaccine makers will donate shots to pharmacies as part of the program.
There are between 25 to 30 million uninsured adults in the United States and other Americans whose insurance will not cover free Covid products this fall, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Currently, the government has purchased an inventory of vaccines from three manufacturers, Pfizer, Moderna other Novavaxand those companies do not sell the shots to health-care providers.
In the fall, the companies will begin selling shots directly to health providers, and the government’s supply is expected to run out.
The Health and Human Services Department in April first announced the Bridge Access Program, but had not said when the program would stop providing shots for free to the uninsured until Thursday.
The program reflects a broad shift on the pandemic’s effects worldwide. As Covid cases and deaths have dropped to new lows, governments have rolled back stringent health mandates like masking and social distancing, and the rate at which people get Covid vaccines has slowed to a crawl over the past year.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization declared an end to the global Covid public health emergency earlier this year. In May, HHS declared an end to the emergency in the United States.