COVID-19 Vaccination, US News Today (News21USA) — The rollout of the newest COVID-19 vaccines has encountered hurdles across the United States, with reports of canceled appointments, insurance-related complications, and supply delays affecting individuals in their quest to get vaccinated.
Since receiving approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for ages 6 months and up, millions of these newly formulated vaccines have been distributed. With the resurgence of cases in late summer, health experts are optimistic that these new shots will provide protection during the approaching fall respiratory virus season.
However, some individuals have had to cancel their vaccine appointments because their insurance providers have not yet updated their billing codes to cover these vaccines. Others who secured appointments had them canceled due to supply shortages. In certain areas, there are no available vaccine appointments within a reasonable distance; for instance, a search in Juneau, Alaska, through the federal government’s website shows no available appointments within 100 miles.
While some pharmacies have limited vaccine supplies, backlogs in orders and slow shipments have hampered widespread availability. The Alaska Department of Health anticipates that private healthcare providers may have access to the vaccines as early as next week, easing the supply situation.
“This rollout has been a little bumpier than anticipated, but we do not believe there will be any significant delay in vaccine availability,” stated Alex Huseman, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Health.
This marks the first time that these vaccines are being distributed primarily through the commercial market, reintroducing public and private health insurers into the process. Previously, the federal government procured and distributed COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to the public.
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Matt Blanchette, spokesperson for CVS Pharmacy, explained that some insurers are still in the process of updating their billing systems to include coverage for these vaccines. In other cases, insurance covered the shots, but pharmacy appointments were canceled due to supply delays.
Both Walgreens and CVS have acknowledged delivery delays in certain stores nationwide, leading to appointment cancellations.
“We are aware of isolated incidences at a small number of locations where appointments had to be rescheduled due to delays in supply,” stated a Walgreens spokesperson, adding that most stores have adequate supply to fulfill existing patient appointments.
Representatives from Moderna and Pfizer have assured that they have ample vaccine supplies. Pfizer indicated that it has not faced shortages and has already shipped millions of doses of its 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. As of Thursday, Moderna had six million doses available, according to Chris Ridley, vice president of communications.
Marwa Bakr, owner of a small private pharmacy in Milwaukee, disclosed that she placed a pre-order for Pfizer and Moderna’s new vaccines about a month ago. Moderna recently informed her that she should expect the vaccines in the next two weeks, while Pfizer suggested they could arrive by the end of the following week. She noted that the shift back to the commercial distribution process is taking longer compared to the previous government-led approach.
Nevertheless, the supply challenges have not discouraged individuals from seeking vaccination. Karen Ramos of Temecula, California, eagerly scheduled a CVS appointment upon learning of the vaccine’s approval. The 57-year-old insurance underwriter, who had never contracted COVID-19 to her knowledge, wanted to stay protected before an upcoming Caribbean cruise. However, she faced two appointment cancellations, prompting her to search for appointments at different CVS and Walgreens locations until she secured one in Temecula on Tuesday.
Ramos expressed her initial frustration but remained determined to get vaccinated ahead of her cruise, emphasizing the importance of vaccination in her travel plans.»