BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — With the COVID vaccine now being distributed to members of the public over the age of 65, many wonder how much it will cost to get the shot.
Taxpayer dollars are being used to give the COVID-19 vaccine free-of-charge to medical providers. Those providers can not, in turn, charge you for the shot itself, but health officials explained to us why you still may be paying something out of pocket.
“The local doctors can charge a fee to assess your condition to determine that you are okay to receive the shot,” said Matt Constantine, director of Kern Public Health.
Depending on where you get your vaccine from, the price of it may vary. If you have insurance, more than likely your vaccine will be free. It’s those without insurance that may be paying something out of pocket.
23ABC called several vaccination spots around Kern County, asking if people without insurance will be charged. Some, like Clinica Sierra Vista, Universal Urgent Care, and Vons
Pharmacy, said the shot is free. Others carry a price, like Niles Family Medicine which has a $45 “administration fee” and Auburn Pharmacy and Phast Pharmacy, which each charge $22 for the vaccine without insurance.
However, if price is an issue, Kern Public Health says you can talk to your provider about getting reimbursed by the “Cares Act Provider Relief Fund.”
“So even if you can’t afford it or don’t have insurance, you can still go to that same provider, they will still provide the shot,” added Constantine.
A number of the providers we got in touch with Friday say that they’re either out of the vaccine, or there is a long waiting list. One hospital told 23ABC they’ve received more than 5,000 requests for appointments. Constantine acknowledges some local providers are running low on doses.
“So we’re actually trying to help them. We’re moving vaccinations around from one provider that has extra to those that need it.”
Public Health says that stock availability changes often for providers around town. But Constantine says that he expects there to be an increase in doses available soon.
“We receive about 5,000 to 6,000 doses a week. The state has told us that that is dramatically going to increase in the next couple of weeks.”
Right now, those age 65 and older are eligible to get the shot. If you want one, the county has a map of locations that offer it on their website.