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Photo: CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health; public domain.

COVID vaccine supply changing distribution

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In a recent press release from the Ohio Department of Health, or ODH, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the department’s director, offered assurances that the COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be readily available to Ohioans, including the uninsured, as the vaccine supply moves to a more traditional healthcare distribution model in the next month.

Following the May expiration of the federal government’s public health emergency designation, the government stopped being the sole supplier of vaccines, and as of Aug. 4, vaccine ordering through the public-health distribution system ended. Beginning in September, healthcare providers will purchase vaccines from manufacturers on the commercial market, according to the ODH’s release.

“Ohioans who have medical insurance should not have to pay out-of-pocket costs for the vaccines, as it typically is covered as a preventive health service,” Vanderhoff said. “ODH, working with our federal partners, has several programs available to ensure that those without insurance can continue to get free vaccines, as well,” he added.

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The ODH will continue to offer vaccines free of charge to eligible children, including those who are uninsured, through the federal Vaccines for Children program. The state has access to about 450,000 doses through this program, according to the ODH press release.

For uninsured adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has created the Bridge Access Program, the press release states, adding that Ohio has access to about 90,000 doses under this program, which will be in effect through the end of 2024. In addition, the CDC will contract with pharmacy chains to allow them to continue offering free COVID-19 vaccinations to the uninsured. The list of pharmacies included in this program has not been announced.

According to the ODH, nearly 75% of adult Ohioans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Vanderhoff encourages all Ohioans to continue to stay up to date with their vaccines, saying it’s “the best way to protect yourself against severe disease, especially with fall and winter just around the corner.”

For more information, visit the ODH’s COVID-19 vaccination website page: coronavirus.ohio.gov/covid-19-vaccination-program.

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