Idaho officials say they aim to make future coronavirus vaccine free for all patients

Healthcare workers will be first priority, governor says.
Posted at 9:48 PM, Oct 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 00:32:11-04

IDAHO — A coronavirus vaccine has yet to be licensed, but Governor Brad Little, R-Idaho, has revealed new insight as to who will be prioritized for that vaccine, when it comes to Idaho.

In a continuing upward trend, 673 new coronavirus cases were reported at the state level Thursday, further accentuating the need for a coronavirus vaccine as we head toward colder months.

At the federal level, U.S. Health officials have been investing in research, expediting the development of candidates for a vaccine. Those officials say they expect to have up to 300 million doses by the end of the year. But what could that mean for Idahoans?

“The availability of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is one of the biggest hurdles to getting back to normal," said Little.

That’s why Little has established a COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee, and they’ve announced they’ll submit a request by next week that essentially raises Idaho’s hand for a vaccine from the feds, effective as soon as it becomes available. And when that happens, that committee says healthcare workers will get first priority.

“We are going to be -- almost certainly -- going to be targeting adults first," said Dr. Christine Hahn, Idaho State Epidemiologist. "Whether they’re healthcare workers, seniors living in nursing homes, um, other essential workers, we’re gonna be focusing on encouraging adults to get vaccinated, offering it to those groups first. Again, at first in a very limited supply, and then eventually a broader population."

But what about cost? Hahn says they’re aiming to avoid patient charges.

“The goal is that nobody will need to pay a cent for the vaccine. The federal government has purchased the vaccines. It will be provided free, and doctors that offer those immunizations can bill insurance. For people who are uninsured, we are working on processes so that the doctors can be reimbursed through another mechanism, not by collecting money from the patient," said Hahn.

And then there’s the question of: how will officials urge people to get vaccinate? And will there be a mandate?

“Our mandates for vaccinations in Idaho are pretty minimal, but we have to get to a certain level, and I would almost argue that not having a mandate would make it easier," said Little.

When asked why, he answered, "I think people will sit down with their community, with their healthcare provider, with their families, and do the right thing."

Click here to learn more from the governor's office.