The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this week that Americans age 65 and older, and those with medical conditions that put them at risk for severe disease from the novel coronavirus, should be prioritized for vaccination. The Secretary of HHS, Alex Azar, said that states with higher concentrations of older residents will now get more vaccine doses to advance this priority.
Each state is responsible for setting the criteria and order of priority for vaccine distribution, but HHS is encouraging states to expand eligibility criteria and establish designated vaccine sites, including retail pharmacies, where people can go to get vaccinated. The administration also announced that they will no longer be holding back second doses because they are confident about later supply streams. This means that more doses are available to give to those getting their first round.
The secretary also reiterated that states must use their allotment or doses will be redistributed to states that are more efficiently administering the vaccine to their residents.
The best source for information about any particular state’s plan and how to access a vaccine if you or a loved one is in a high priority group is the state’s health authority. Some people may also have received information from their health care provider about their plan for vaccine distribution.
The COVID-19 vaccine is available to people with Medicare at no cost, regardless of whether they are enrolled in Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan.