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Feds to restart mail-order Covid test program

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"The president wanted to make sure that no one can go without tests. We will once again up our program to make sure Americans have access to a test," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters at a Washington pharmacy. The secretary was there to receive his Covid and flu shots and to promote the updated Covid shots, which were endorsed by the CDC last week.

On Wednesday, Becerra acknowledged anecdotal reports in the past week that people have had trouble getting their insurance to pay upfront for the updated shots, saying pharmacies likely ran into glitches that have been resolved. He encouraged people to contact their insurance provider if they experience issues. He also pushed back against a reporter's question about anecdotal reports that Covid vaccines for young children have been difficult to obtain.

"If it's available, it's available for your children as well. … There is no reason why a child should not be able to get the Covid vaccine," he said. There's not yet data to confirm the accessibility of the new Covid shots.

Becerra said more information for the public would be coming with plans to get the program restarted "as quickly as possible."

The federal government reopened its partnership with the U.S. Postal Service in December, allowing people to request four free at-home Covid-19 tests per household. The program was paused in June to preserve the government's remaining supply of Covid tests and because the number of Covid hospitalizations had plateaued.

A restart of the free testing program comes as Covid hospitalizations have ticked up in recent months.

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