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More options to get COVID-19 vaccine

Airman 1st Class Dallas Telle (right), a client systems technician at the 709th Cyberspace Squadron at Patrick Space Force Base, Fla., rolls up her sleeve as Staff Sgt. Kameri Michaud (left), noncommissioned officer in charge of the 45th Medical Group's Pediatrics Clinic, administers the COVID-19 vaccine.  As a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center's contingency response team, Telle received her first dose Jan. 14 and her second dose Feb. 11.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

Airman 1st Class Dallas Telle (right), a client systems technician at the 709th Cyberspace Squadron at Patrick Space Force Base, Fla., rolls up her sleeve as Staff Sgt. Kameri Michaud (left), noncommissioned officer in charge of the 45th Medical Group's Pediatrics Clinic, administers the COVID-19 vaccine. As a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center's contingency response team, Telle received her first dose Jan. 14 and her second dose Feb. 11. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Are you and your family looking to get a COVID-19 vaccine near you? If so, you’ll soon have more options for where you can go to get it. As part of the ongoing response to COVID-19, the federal government has launched the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. This new program is a collaboration between the federal government, states, territories, and 21 national pharmacies and independent pharmacy networks to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.

“Vaccination is a critical step in protecting your health and slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said Colonel Markus Gmehlin, acting chief of the Pharmacy Operations Division at the Defense Health Agency. “This program will provide TRICARE beneficiaries with more opportunities to get vaccinated at a location near them.”

Here are some details about distribution and how you can get the vaccine with your TRICARE benefit.

How does the program work?

The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will supply COVID-19 vaccines to retail pharmacies in phases. As part of the initial phase, 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be sent to a select group of pharmacies. These pharmacies will then administer vaccinations to those who are eligible. Some pharmacies have already begun offering a limited amount of the vaccine through this program. Other pharmacies are set to begin offering doses soon. As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “As vaccine supply increases, more retail locations will be added.”

Will my local pharmacy offer the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pharmacies that are part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program may vary by state and territory. Pharmacies participating in the program may include TRICARE network pharmacies and non-network pharmacies. You can find a list of pharmacies that are currently participating in your area on the CDC website.

How can I get the vaccine with my TRICARE benefit?

The availability of the vaccine may vary by location. If you’re a TRICARE beneficiary, you’ll eventually be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine at: “At this stage of the program, the vaccine supply is limited,” said Gmehlin. “So, it’s important to make sure you contact your local pharmacy in advance to see if the vaccine is available and if you can schedule an appointment to receive it.”

There is no cost-share if you get the COVID-19 vaccine at a TRICARE network pharmacy.

Planning to get the vaccine at a non-network pharmacy? There’s no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine itself. Keep in mind, TRICARE doesn’t cover other vaccines and most prescription drugs at non-network pharmacies.

Remember, there may be a cost based on your health plan for an office visit with a provider, or if you need follow-on care. If you have questions, you can contact your TRICARE contractor.

Do you prefer to get the vaccine at a military hospital or clinic? If you’re eligible for TRICARE, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine at any military hospital or clinic that offers it. This is true even if you don’t get your routine care there. Phase 1A of the Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccination plan is currently underway at many military hospitals, clinics, and DoD installations. This phase includes vaccinating health care workers, first responders, and residents of Armed Forces Retirement Homes. Keep in mind, some military hospitals and clinics may be in different phases of the vaccination plan. So, make sure you check first to see if the vaccine is available at your location.

TRICARE is committed to supporting you and your health. Stay up to date on vaccine guidance through the TRICARE and Military Health System websites. You can also check with your local health department and talk to your health care provider about when you may qualify to receive the vaccine as well as where you can go to get vaccinated. The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination is the latest of several resources introduced to help you and your family.

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