Planning to get your COVID booster? Be prepared to wait. High demand and a rocky rollout has left Coloradans waiting weeks for an appointment or forking up as much as $250 for what should be a free shot. Here’s what’s going on:
Why Is It So Hard To Get?
Booster rollout has been troublesome nationwide. In the past, the federal government bought vaccines and distributed them for free; this year, pharmacies have to buy the vaccine directly from suppliers. As one health and policy expert told NPR, this is the first year the vaccine is being commercialized.
Another problem? Lack of supply. Pharmacies are scheduling appointments, but then don’t have the vaccine in stock. And this is the first time that insurers were supposed to cover the cost of vaccines as preventative medicine (instead of the government), but many haven’t updated their billing codes despite the fact the administrator with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services sent a letter to insurers back in July urging them to update their systems by mid- to late-September.
What Can You Do?
Confirm Your Coverage
Call your insurance company and confirm both that they’re going to cover the booster, and that they’ll honor that payment wherever you’ve made your appointment — if you must go out of network to find one, insurers are still supposed to cover it.
Call the pharmacy or clinic the day of your appointment to confirm that they have the vaccine in stock. Many try to send automated cancellation messages if they run out, but those systems aren’t foolproof.
Experts say pharmacies should be getting more vaccines in stock in the coming weeks and insurance companies are supposed to be updating their billing codes.
You can request up to four free covid tests for your household at covid.gov/tests.