AG James Secures Reimbursements for Consumers Charged for COVID-19 Vaccine Fees

Male doctor hand wears glove holding syringe and vial with covid 19 vaccine.
Stock Photo from 123RF

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Feb. 7 announced that her office secured refunds for New Yorkers who were wrongfully charged administration fees from two pharmacies when they received their COVID-19 vaccine. 

The refunds come after an investigation from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that Embassy Pharmacy, in Manhattan improperly charged a vaccine administration fee of $25 to approximately 275 consumers that received a COVID-19 vaccination

Similarly, Fulton Drugs, in Brooklyn, charged a vaccine administration fee of $20 or $25 to approximately 175 consumers. In accordance with the agreements, the pharmacies have reimbursed all improperly charged vaccine recipients and will implement stronger training programs for staff.  

Attorney General Letitia James

“Make no mistake: COVID vaccines are free to all who seek them,” said James. “New Yorkers should not be charged fees to receive the vaccines. If they are, my office will work to ensure they are reimbursed for the charges.” 

The OAG first launched its investigation in March of 2021, following reports from New Yorkers who were charged for vaccines. While vaccination providers are allowed to seek appropriate reimbursement from a vaccine recipient’s health plan or for those who are uninsured, from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s COVID-19 Uninsured Program, providers are not allowed to charge a vaccine recipient. By imposing a vaccine administration fee directly to consumers, Embassy and Fulton engaged in deceptive acts and practices that violated Executive Law § 63(12) and General Business Law § 349.  

The agreements reached by Attorney General James ensure that all who paid the vaccine administration fee have been reimbursed and the pharmacies have immediately changed their practices to eliminate the vaccine administration fee to consumers. Additionally, the pharmacies have agreed to institute new requirements that strengthen training for all staff involved with the administration of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as signage requirements associated with vaccine administration. 

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine applauded James for investigating the wrongful charges and ensuring that New Yorkers who were responsible by getting vaccinated are fully and rightfully reimbursed.

“New York City’s free vaccination program is a vital part of our city’s response to the pandemic. We must eliminate every barrier to getting vaccinated against COVID-19, including misinformation that recipients will be charged for getting the vaccine,” said Levine. 

Assemblymember Stefani L. Zinerman (D-Brooklyn) said James’ investigation illustrates the state’s commitment to consumer protection.

“I applaud her quick response to recover the wrongfully charged administrative fees for the COVID-19 test kits sold by Embassy and Fulton pharmacies. The self-advocacy of the residents from the 56th Assembly District who reported these deceptive acts coupled with a responsive government agency is how we effectively prevent future fraud in our community,” said Zinerman.

If New Yorkers are aware of providers improperly charging consumers a fee for administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, they should contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Health Care Bureau online or call 1-800-428-9071.