Do I have to pay to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Coronavirus Updates

FILE — In this March 31, 2021, file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. U.S. health regulators on Tuesday, April 13, is recommending a “pause” in using the vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

(ABC4) – As you prepare to roll up your sleeve to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you may be wondering – who’s paying for it?

The short answer is: not you.

The federal government is providing the COVID-19 vaccine, free of charge, to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.

What does that mean?

The latest COVID-19 relief bill, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, included not only stimulus checks, but funding for pandemic public health activities, like vaccine distribution.

In total, almost $93 billion of the stimulus funding is dedicated to COVID-19 public health-focused activities, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonprofit organization that focuses on national health issues and the U.S.’s role in global health policy.

Here’s a look at how that $93 billion is affecting vaccine distribution, according to KFF:

  • $7.5 billion: To the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide the CDC for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration. This includes support for State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments.
  • $1 billion: To HHS to provide to CDC for vaccine confidence, information, and education activities.
  • $6.05 billion: For HHS to support the supply chain for COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and ancillary medical products through research, development, manufacturing, production, and purchasing.
  • $500 million: For the FDA for activities related to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. This includes evaluation of their continued safety, performance, and effectiveness, as well as the facilitation of advanced continuous manufacturing.
  • $7.6 billion: To HHS for community health centers for activities including COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration, testing, contact tracing, mitigation, workforce enhancement, and community outreach and education.
  • $10 billion: To enhance the use of the Defense Production Act for the purchase, production, or distribution of medical supplies and equipment for COVID-19 including for testing, PPE, vaccines, and other drugs and biological products.
  • $2.34 billion: For the Indian Health Service for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration ($600 million); testing, contact tracing, and mitigation ($1.5 billion); and public health workforce for COVID-19 ($240 million).

The funding allows you to receive your COVID-19 vaccine for free. The CDC says vaccine providers cannot:

  • Charge you for your vaccine
  • Charge you for any administration fees, copays, or coinsurance
  • Deny vaccination to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage, is underinsured, or is out of network
  • Charge an office visit or other fee if the only service provided is a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Require additional services so you can receive the vaccine. However, additional healthcare services can be provided at the same time and billed as appropriate.

Why do I have to show my insurance card when I get the vaccine?

When you get your COVID-19 vaccine, you may be asked to provide your insurance card while your friend or family member who goes to a different site does not have to. What’s the difference?

While you cannot be charged for your vaccine, the CDC explains that vaccination providers can seek reimbursement from your plan or program, like private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid for a vaccine administration fee.

If you are uninsured, providers can also seek reimbursement for uninsured vaccine recipients through the Health Resources & Services Administration.

So if you are asked to bring your insurance card with for your vaccine appointment, don’t be alarmed, you will not be charged to get your dose.

What else should I know about the vaccine?

There have been a lot of questions about the vaccine and what you can do before or after getting your shot. Here are a few frequently-asked-questions, answered:

Can I travel again after getting the vaccine?

If you have been fully vaccinated, the CDC says you can resume travel at “low risk” of getting or spreading COVID-19. Because of this, those who are fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine can travel safely within the U.S. without getting tested before or after travel – unless their destination requires it – and they do not need to self-quarantine.

How long will the vaccine protect me?

New research suggests the protection the Moderna vaccine gives against COVID-19 lasts for at least six months. Research on the Pfizer vaccine has found the same results. Both vaccines have only been available in the U.S. for six months.

Can I take medication before getting the vaccine?

The CDC recommends that people avoid pain medicine like Tylenol or Ibuprofen prior to getting the vaccine. The chance that over-the-counter medications will affect your immune response is unlikely, the Utah Department of Health says, but it is still not known for sure if they can impact the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Can I drink alcohol after receiving the vaccine?

While there is no firm answer, most health officials advise against drinking alcohol because of the symptoms that may occur after you get your dose.

Ultimately, while having a drink after getting either of your doses won’t make your recovery any harder, health officials agree that, instead of having alcohol, you should focus on staying hydrated and taking care of yourself in case of symptoms of the vaccine.

Why does the second COVID-19 vaccine dose have more side effects than the first?

It’s widely known that the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccines tend to come with more side effects than the first, including tiredness, headaches, chills, fever, nausea and muscle pain. With the first dose, your body begins building its initial immune response, including producing antibodies.

But with the second shot — a.k.a. the second exposure to the virus — “the big guns” of your immune system react.

How long should I wait to get the vaccine after having the virus?

According to Jenny Johnson, Public Information Officer with the Utah Department of Health, people who have had COVID-19 can safely be vaccinated.

The only “rule” about being vaccinated after being infected with the virus, she says, is that people must have completed the quarantine period and be symptom-free.

“There is no reason why someone should not get the vaccine after being infected,” Johnson says.

Can I donate blood after receiving the vaccine?

You can, but the American Red Cross says it is important to note which type of vaccine you got.

What should and shouldn’t I do after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

Do you continue to social distance and wear a mask? And when does immunity set in?

The Utah Department of Health provided ABC4 some guidelines.

I missed my second COVID-19 shot – now what?

The appointment is scheduled, and you missed getting it! What do you do now? Will you have to take two more shots? Probably not. Here’s what the Utah Department of Health says:

“You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.”

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