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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


What to know about the new 2023 COVID-19 vaccine, where to get it

Glenda Perez draws up a COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Arizona vaccination clinic on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. (Photo by Hannah Cree from El Inde Arizona)

One of the many things to do this fall season to protect our health is to take advantage of the new COVID-19 vaccine and the free COVID-19 testing kit initiative by the federal government, which returned last month in September. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone who has not had a COVID-19 shot in the last two months get the updated vaccine. 

There has been a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases throughout Arizona since the beginning of August. The Arizona Department of Health Services has reported 3,134 new cases from Sept. 24 through Oct. 1.  

The new COVID-19 vaccine is free for most Americans through their private health insurance, and Arizonans under Medicare and Medicaid (AHCCCS) will receive the vaccine at no cost. Those wishing to receive the vaccine can visit their local pharmacy or healthcare provider with their insurance card to receive the vaccine. 

Uninsured individuals can also access free vaccines through the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, or by calling 1-800-232-0233, which can help people locate available vaccination centers in their area.

Along with this, the Bridge Access Program can also provide free updated COVID-19 vaccinations for adults and children who are uninsured or underinsured; only information of name and date of birth will be required. To learn more about the locations of the health departments, view and check under the COVID-19 information and resources section.

There are options for everyone to have access to the updated COVID-19 vaccine at no additional cost, so make sure to bring in your COVID-19 vaccination card when going in to get the vaccine!

Every household can have access to four testing kits by ordering through, which started Sept. 25. The test kits can detect the currently circulating COVID-19 variants and are intended for use until the end of the year. 

The only information required to order the test kits includes: one’s name, shipping address and email for delivery confirmation. You will not be required to input any credit card or bank information, as it will be shipped to the given address free of cost. Another option for free testing this fall is some local pharmacies at CVS and Walgreens, as there are no-cost antigen and PCR tests available in more than 15,000 cities across the country, according to CBS News

The Pima County Health Department also has a testing center at Abrams Public Health Center for rapid tests at no cost, along with the distribution of free self-test kits at multiple locations across the county. For more information regarding the times and location sites, visit and check under the COVID-19 information and resources section.

If you purchase COVID-19 test kits, know that many private health insurance plans may not cover COVID-19 testing kit costs, so contact your insurance provider for plan details and verify coverage. Take advantage of the federal program and get the COVID-19 kits through the winter months. 

The University of Arizona is also doing its part to make the test kits and vaccines available for students. 

Through the UA’s partnership with the Pima County Health Department, the university was “able to distribute 300 tests so far from September, available on the welcome table on Campus Health, but they are on a limited basis, so we distribute them as fast as we can when we get them from the County,” said David Salafsky, executive director of Campus Health.

Along with this, the UA has test kits for purchase at the pharmacy for about $12 each. Campus Health “will be administering the COVID-updated Moderna vaccine. Once we get access we will be updating our Campus Health website to allow students to register for vaccines,” Salafsky said. 

But it is important to note that the new vaccines are through a commercial process, according to Salafsky, “so if you have insurance they are covered 100% under preventative care” and should make sure to bring your insurance cards when going to the testing sites. 

For those under Medicaid and Medicare, there will be no costs for the vaccine. Those who are uninsured have access to free vaccines under the Bridge Access Program throughout Pima County.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to get everyone vaccinated; anyone who wants a vaccine can get one without any pocket costs,” Salafsky said.

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