Challenges Persist as Americans Navigate COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

09.10.2023 posted by Admin

COVID Vaccines and Appointment Struggles

Americans have begun getting the latest COVID-19 vaccine, but some are still struggling to secure appointments for themselves and their children weeks into the rollout.

In addition to this, individuals seeking vaccinations are encountering unexpected upfront fees ranging from $150 to $200. This change comes as the U.S. government has shifted responsibility for distribution, administration, and payment coverage to private entities, including vaccine manufacturers, pharmacies, and insurance providers.

The surge in COVID-19 cases across much of the country in September has fueled a strong desire among many Americans to get vaccinated.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), around 4 million people received the updated Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna shots in September, with 12 million doses shipped. The U.S. government has recommended vaccination for all Americans aged 6 months and older.

Kate MacDowell, a self-employed 50-year-old residing in Portland, Oregon, shared her experience of having her vaccine appointment canceled by her healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente. She has been unable to secure another appointment for nearly a month. This situation led her and her husband to cancel their overseas trip in late September because they couldn't find vaccination opportunities.

Kaiser Permanente did not provide a comment on MacDowell's experience in Oregon. The healthcare provider, currently facing a 3-day strike by 75,000 workers, typically does not cover out-of-network vaccinations, except in California, where members can receive reimbursement for COVID-19 vaccines from non-Kaiser providers, such as retail pharmacies, until November 11.

The U.S. government ended the COVID public health emergency declaration in May, during which it provided vaccines to all Americans for free. In the current privatized system, health insurance plans are legally required to cover the cost of the shots. Pharmacies and healthcare providers order vaccine doses upfront from manufacturers and receive their supplies from distributors.

Pfizer and Moderna reported on the successful shipment of their vaccine doses as planned. Pfizer announced that it had delivered over 10 million doses of its 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine, including more than 1 million pediatric doses. Moderna also stated that it had shipped millions of doses.

CVS, the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., noted ongoing delivery delays from its wholesalers. Walmart is making updated COVID shots available in all its stores as supply allows, while Walgreens stores now have the necessary supply to meet community demand.

McKesson, one of the largest U.S. wholesalers, has distributed over 3.8 million shots to date but acknowledged the need to enhance the supply chain, which may have affected delivery dates for some customers.

Cardinal Health, another major distributor, reported shipping several million COVID-19 vaccines with minor short-term shipping delays.

After initial reports of payment refusals during the campaign, health insurance executives met with government officials on September 27 and assured that plans are reimbursing vaccines administered by in-network providers.

However, some individuals have encountered situations where their health insurance plans do not cover the new COVID shots at certain pharmacy locations.

Independent pharmacists face a different challenge, as they are now responsible for covering the cost of vaccine supply since the government is no longer funding it.

Some people reported being instructed by their insurers to pay upfront and then seek reimbursement if their pharmacies require payment.

James Daily, a 43-year-old software developer from Readington, New Jersey, paid nearly $600 last month for vaccinations for himself, his wife, and his oldest daughter. He has encountered difficulties in securing an appointment for his 4-year-old daughter due to variations in state regulations regarding vaccine administration for young children.

Dr. Suzanne Berman, a pediatrician in Crossville, Tennessee, expressed concerns about potential financial losses due to decreased demand for vaccines. She is cautious about ordering large quantities of vaccines that may expire or go unused, resulting in financial losses.
Comments are temporarily unavailable

Your comment