As Illinois ramps up its plans for distribution of a coronavirus vaccine in the coming months, state health officials emphasized Wednesday that the treatment will be free of charge to state residents seeking to be inoculated against the disease.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, made that point during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Ezike said that residents’ insurance will be billed for the vaccine, or they would be able to obtain it free of charge from local health departments or hospitals when the treatment becomes available to the general public.
“There will not be a cost to individuals for the vaccine, although providers may charge a small fee to administer the vaccine, which will go towards insurance,” she said. “But no one will be turned away from getting a vaccine due to any inability to pay.”
The revelation was made during a press conference where health officials began to lay out their vision for how the vaccine will be distributed and administered to Illinois residents when it becomes available. The plan at this point is for local health departments to get supplies of the vaccine, which will then be administered first to individuals on the front lines of the pandemic, as well as “vulnerable populations” like residents and staff of long-term care facilities, then to the rest of the public as more supply becomes available.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities will eventually gain access to the treatment, Ezike said, with the state’s I-CARE immunization registration program for children handling the distribution of the drug.
The state’s ultimate goal is to provide immunizations to 80% or more of the population of Illinois, a metric that would allow for “herd immunity,” according to CDC guidelines and the IDPH.