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The COVID-19 vaccine is free. So how could you still get a medical bill?

The COVID-19 vaccine itself may be free, but some people could find they're still charged. Here's why.

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Coronavirus vaccines may be free, but there could be hidden costs. Here's what we know.

Sarah Tew/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

The US has currently administered more than 57.7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine since the initial release. And if you're in line to get vaccinated soon, you won't have to pay to receive it. The federal government is handling much of the cost in distributing the vaccine, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is taking further steps to make sure all Americans have access to the vaccine at no cost, the government organization has said

That doesn't necessarily mean you won't see a bill, however. Some providers may still charge a fee for administering the shot. Fortunately, federal regulations should be able to cap the amount you might be charged, as part of an effort to make the vaccine affordable to everyone.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the two vaccine brands currently authorized by the FDA for emergency use in the US. (Here's where you can get a vaccine.) After you get vaccinated, you'll receive a vaccination card to help keep track of when your second shot is due. 

Here's what we know about how much you could be charged and how you might be able to appeal a medical bill for a coronavirus vaccine.

Read more: Coronavirus vaccine: Where to get it, how much it costs and everything you should know

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How much will the coronavirus vaccine cost me?

The COVID-19 vaccine itself is free to all Americans, as noted by the CMS. The government organization also said it plans to make sure you can reimburse any FDA-approved coronavirus treatments you're charged for. However, providers will be able to bill you an administrative fee for giving the shot to patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This would be similar to paying a charge when you visit the doctor's office. 

If you don't have insurance, the medical provider you used should be reimbursed for any COVID-19 treatment you receive through the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, at no cost to you. 

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The vaccine itself may be free, but there could still be other fees you'll be charged for.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What if I get a bill for my coronavirus vaccine?

If you receive a bill for your COVID-19 vaccine, you may need to file a claim with your insurance company since they're required to cover approved preventive care under the Affordable Care Act

If you don't have insurance and receive a bill, regulations state that the doctors will be able to get paid through the Health Resources and Services Administration's Provider Relief Fund, according to the CDC, so you'll need to contact the clinic or hospital where you received the immunization. There may be certain exceptions that apply.

If you receive a bill for administration fees, it's still unclear whether or not those will be covered in full. It's a good idea to contact your local provider or health insurance company for more details on whether you'll be charged additional fees before receiving a vaccine. It might be that you have more than one option for immunization, including finding a medical provider that would give you the vaccine free of charge, or offer a more straightforward approach to reimbursement if you're charged.

Here's who's in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine next

The coronavirus vaccine is being distributed and administered to the public. Here's who is receiving it now, per CDC recommendations

Phase 1a: Health care workers, nursing home staff and residents 

Phase 1b: Essential frontline workers and people ages 75 years and older

Phase 1c: People ages 65-74 years old, people ages 16-64 years old with underlying medical conditions, other essential workers

Next phase: Everyone else, except children and some specific groups.

Note that each state may have its own priorities for which group could be first in line for the immunization. For example, California has published a draft of its coronavirus vaccine distribution plan (PDF). 

For more information, here's how to track COVID-19 vaccinations in your state, why you should wear a mask even after getting COVID-19 or the vaccine and where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.