Federal funding for COVID vaccinations running out

Funds likely to be exhausted by the end of the year, meaning commercial payers will take over payment for many patients

Patients will be paying for their COVID-19 vaccinations by early next year because federal funding is running out, according to HHS.

When this happens, the commercial payer market will have to pay for them – or patients without insurance will have to pay out of pocket, similar to seasonal flu shots and other vaccines. HHS met with representatives from state and local governments, pharmaceutical companies, and insurers, to announce the news and give them time to prepare.

“While the federal government has been pleased to play this role, we have always known that we would not be in this business forever,” said Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the HHS in a statement. “Unfortunately, the timeline to make the transition has accelerated over the past six months without additional funds from Congress to support this work.”

The agency requested $30 billion in the March spending package, but $22.5 billion of that was cut by Congress. Another $10 billion in a bipartisan COVID aid bill failed in the senate over an immigration amendment.

Vaccines aren’t the only service affected by the funding shortfall. Money for the antivirals Paxlovid and Lagevrio, and the preventative Evusheld treatment, are also expected to run out by mid-2023 at the latest. Funding has already run out for the free at-home rapid testing kits.