Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that it has launched a program to help maintain access to free COVID-19 vaccines for uninsured Americans as the vaccines move onto the open market.
"Administered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the more than $1 billion program will create a unique public-private partnership to help maintain uninsured individuals' access to COVID-19 care at their local pharmacies," the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.
The goal of the program is to ensure uninsured Americans are able to obtain vaccines free of cost.
"With updated COVID-19 vaccines now recommended for use, CDC has taken steps to ensure Americans who are uninsured and underinsured are able to receive these vaccines at no-cost from their local provider, community health center, or pharmacy," HHS said.
The department says it is working with pharmacies to ensure the availability of vaccinations.
"Doses will be available in some locations this week, with distribution increasing in coming weeks," HHS said.
HHS emphasized the importance of keeping access to vaccines for children and stressed that the new program would help fill gaps in coverage.
"COVID-19 vaccines remain free for most Americans through their health insurance plans - or through their health insurance plans -- or through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which provides recommended vaccines and immunizations at no cost too about half of the nation's children," HHS said.