Pharmacies Included in the Bridge Access Program
As the United States transitions from a government-funded COVID-19 vaccination program to commercial offerings, over 25 million adults may have limited access to no-cost COVID-19 vaccines.
To address this significant vaccine-equity issue, the U.S. CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today presented the temporary Bridge Access Program.
Evelyn Twentyman, MD, MPH with the CDC, presented during the ACIP meeting on September 12, 2023, that the goals of the Bridge Access Program (BAP) are to establish access for those with insurance, for children, and ensure no-cost access for adults.
Furthermore, this innovative program is designed to maximize the proximity and timeliness of vaccine access.
As of March 2023, about 960 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been delivered in the U.S.
Using their extensive retail footprints and partnerships, pharmacies will continue to ensure access to no-cost COVID-19 vaccine access.
Through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, more than 307 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered as of August 18, 2023,
In addition to healthcare providers and health clinics, pharmacies will play a significant role in the BAP offering the new COVID-19 vaccines.
Manufacturers will donate these COVID-19 vaccines to pharmacies, and CDC will cover administration costs.
However, free COVID-19 vaccines through this temporary program will not be available after December 2024.
"While this is the first fall many of us feel like our lives are back to normal, the reality is that many people are still getting ill and being hospitalized with respiratory illnesses," commented Dr. Kevin Ban, Walgreens Chief Medical Officer, in a media release on September 12, 2023.
"The early peak of COVID-19 activity that we are seeing this year reinforces the need for all of us to stay protected against these viruses, especially as flu and RSV also begin to spread in our communities."
According to the CDC, the Bridge Access Program is a short-term "bridge program" to a permanent Vaccines for Adults (VAP) Program.
To fund the VAP, the U.S. President's budget request for Fiscal Year 2024 includes an incremental $317 million.