Covid-19 vaccines 'a public good' and will be available for free

No-one will be expected to pay when they get the vaccine, says a technical adviser to the health department, Dr Aquina Thulare

27 January 2021 - 22:29
Dr Aquina Thulare, a technical adviser to the health department, confirmed on Wednesday night that the Covid-19 vaccine was declared a public good and would be made available for free.
Dr Aquina Thulare, a technical adviser to the health department, confirmed on Wednesday night that the Covid-19 vaccine was declared a public good and would be made available for free.
Image: Twitter via @HealthZA

The Covid-19 vaccine has been declared a “public good” and will be delivered for free.

“Its delivery is based on the principle of social solidarity, so that we look after each other, all of us, in our society,” Dr Aquina Thulare, a technical adviser for health department said during a webinar on Wednesday night.

She said that the almost 33 million people who don't have private health insurance will receive Covid-19 vaccines for free, while the seven million insured South Africans would be covered by their medical aid.

“Vaccination is a public good. Government will provide funding for the uninsured population. For those who are insured, funding [for the vaccine] will be derived from medical schemes, and for these individual people, the vaccine will be administered free at the point of vaccination, at the point of service,” said Thulare.

She said the public sector would be the preferred provider of the vaccination.

She said private providers would purchase the vaccines at a “single exit price” (SEP) from the central distributor, which is the government. The SEP mechanism in SA lists the maximum price a medicine can be charged at.

Dispensers may charge an additional dispensing fee depending on the price of the medicine.

Thulare emphasised that inoculation, however, would be free.

“No insured person will be expected to pay when they access the vaccine,” she said, saying this would be a “prescribed minimum benefit”.

“We've already declared the vaccination for Covid-19 as a prescribed minimum benefit, which means [medical] schemes are obliged to pay for this service. Schemes will be expected to pay directly to those that are providing [vaccination] services, whether it's hospitals, community pharmacies, general practitioners, or whatever mechanism that we are going to be using to provide that service,” said Thulare.

She said public health-care facilities can provide vaccines to people with health insurance, for free, with any costs to be paid by that person's medical scheme.

“Of importance, no person, an uninsured person or insured person, will be expected to pay when they access the vaccine. Vaccination will be free at the point of service,” said Thulare.

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