Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the WTC Health Program
The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program's top priority is to continue providing your WTC-related health care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have responded with several operational changes to help accomplish this during this challenging time. Our clinics have also shifted how they operate to ensure that they are able to meet your needs while limiting face-to-face interactions.
- Filling Prescriptions section updated (June 1, 2021)
- COVID-19 vaccine section updated with certified condition letter information (March 17, 2021)
- COVID-19 vaccine section updated (February 9, 2021)
- COVID-19 vaccine section updated (January 14, 2021)
- COVID-19 vaccine section added (December 14, 2020)
- Statement by Program Administrator Dr. John Howard on COVID-19 and the WTC Health Program (May 4, 2020)
- Members who prefer to pick up prescriptions at retail pharmacies can now receive up to a 90-day supply of medication. The new quantity must be authorized by your provider. (April 28, 2020)
- Information on mental health resources is available at www.cdc.gov/wtc/mentalhealth.html (April 17, 2020)
- There are no processing delays for WTC Health Program enrollments, certifications, or claims at this time. (March 31, 2020)
- Members should keep upcoming monitoring and treatment appointments, unless otherwise advised by your clinic. Clinics are continuing to provide care through telehealth services (phone or video) when possible. Contact your clinic for more details. (March 31, 2020)
- The WTC Health Program is not able to provide disinfectant supplies or protective equipment. If you are in need of these supplies, please contact your provider or local COVID-19 resource helpline. (March 23, 2020)
- Members should continue following CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19 prevention. (March 23, 2020)
Looking for COVID-19 information from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)? The VCF is a separate program from the WTC Health Program. The latest updates from the VCF are available on the VCF COVID-19 page.
Protect yourself and those around you
All WTC Health Program members are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s guidelines to protect against COVID-19.
Some WTC Health Program members with certain health conditions, WTC-related or not, may be at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The CDC recommends additional preventive steps be taken for these higher risk individuals.
We know that this time of social distancing and self-isolation may be filled with stress and anxiety. Information on mental health resources is available.
Organizations and programs are also available to assist if you need help with financial burden, resource access, or other social support.
When to seek care for COVID-19 symptoms
If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever or cough, call your health care provider. If contacting the WTC Health Program’s Clinical Centers of Excellence or the Nationwide Provider Network, you may be referred to alternative locations for COVID-19 testing and treatment based on local public health directives.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately.
What we've done in response to COVID-19
The WTC Health Program has taken several steps to ensure that Program members continue to receive monitoring, treatment, and other authorized services for their certified WTC-related conditions during this challenging time.
Expanded use of telehealth
We have approved the use of telehealth services (either telephone or video) so that members can continue to receive care without coming into a clinic. Telehealth services may vary from clinic to clinic but will help ensure continued care for certified WTC-related conditions.
Implemented in-person safeguards
Each clinic is following the preparedness plan outlined by their parent institution. Non-essential appointments are being rescheduled and several safety measures are in place for any essential in-person visits.
On April 28, 2020, the WTC Health Program started allowing up to a 90-day supply of medication to be filled at your retail or community pharmacy if the quantity was authorized by your provider. This was to allow members to make less frequent trips to an in-person pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, only a 30-day supply was permitted when filled in-person.
Effective August 1, 2021, the previous 30-day fill limit at retail or community-based pharmacies is reinstated. For any medication fills above 30 days and up to 90 days, you must use OptumRx Home Delivery .
To enroll in OptumRx Home Delivery, please call Optum at (855) 640–0005, Option 2 or you can visit the OptumRx’s WTC Health Program Home Delivery website . More information on pharmacy benefits in the WTC Health Program is available on the Pharmacy Benefits page.
Read more about the 30-day supply limit at retail pharmacy reinstatement.
Visit the CDC COVID-19 vaccines webpage for information about COVID-19 vaccines, including frequently asked questions and recommendations for prevention after vaccination. Learn more about CDC priority recommendations on the Who Gets Vaccinated First? webpage. If you are unsure whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you, contact your healthcare provider. Continue to follow CDC’s COVID-19 prevention steps before and after you receive the vaccine.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine available through my Clinical Center of Excellence (CCE)?
Most CCEs will not be getting the vaccine to administer in the Program clinics, even if the CCE’s parent medical institution has a vaccine administration program. All Program members should seek the vaccine outside of the WTC Health Program through their state or local health department’s vaccine administration process.
When and where can I get the vaccine?
To get the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit your state or local health department’s website and follow these steps:
- Review the COVID-19 vaccination prioritization plan for your state and see what priority group you are in. Please note: Your membership in the WTC Health Program does not affect your prioritization for the vaccine.
- If your priority group is eligible for the vaccine, look up where you can receive the vaccine near you. Vaccine supply is currently very limited and may impact your ability to get an appointment.
- Review any documentation requirements needed to prove you are eligible for the vaccine. For example, a driver’s license to show your age. Please note: If your certified WTC-related health condition meets the criteria for the vaccine, your certification letter may be used as documentation.
- Follow your location's instructions for requesting or scheduling an appointment. You may find that your location is a local health department, hospital, pharmacy, or medical practice.
Search for vaccine providers near you, get links to state or local health departments, and learn what to expect when you get vaccinated on the CDC COVID-19 Vaccine page.
Please note: The WTC Health Program does not have any influence in how the vaccine is distributed or prioritized. CCEs and the Nationwide Provider Network are not able to assist with providing information about when and where members can receive the vaccine.
Why did I receive a letter from the WTC Health Program about my certified condition(s) and the COVID-19 vaccine?
Some state and local health departments may require medical documentation in order to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as part of a priority group. The WTC Health Program has received several requests for copies of certification decision letters for this reason. To prevent potential delays, the Program is sending letters to all members with a certified WTC-related health condition(s) in case it is needed.
If you are a member with at least one certified health condition, you should look for this letter from the WTC Health Program in the mail by the end of March 2021.
- Lists all of your WTC-related condition(s) certified for treatment by the WTC Health Program;
- Lists any health conditions certified as covered for treatment by being medically associated with your certified WTC-related health condition(s); and
- Is signed by the Administrator of the WTC Health Program.
Please note: The WTC Health Program cannot guarantee that this letter will meet your state or jurisdiction’s documentation requirements.
If you have already received the COVID-19 vaccine or do not need documentation of your condition to receive a vaccine in your state, you can disregard this letter.
What do I do if I did not receive a letter about my certified condition(s) and the COVID-19 vaccine?
Members without a certified condition will not receive a letter.
If you have a WTC-related health condition certified by the Program, the letter was mailed to the address we have on file for you. Please allow time for delivery by the U.S. Postal Service. If you did not receive a letter by April 2, 2021 and believe you should have, please call 1-888-982-4748.
Does the WTC Health Program cover the vaccine?
The WTC Health Program does not cover the COVID-19 vaccine or the administration of the vaccine at this time.
All vaccine doses currently available were purchased by the federal government with U.S. taxpayer dollars and, therefore, are available at no cost to the American people. However, vaccination providers may charge vaccine administration fees. The CARES Act requires that these costs be covered by the patient’s personal insurance (whether public or private) or, for uninsured patients, by the HHS Provider Relief Fund. Providers are prohibited from seeking reimbursement for the vaccine administration fee from the patient or otherwise balance billing the patient.
Please continue checking this page for WTC Health Program updates about the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 testing and treatment
The WTC Health Program covers limited COVID-19 testing for members with certain certified WTC-related conditions that may put them at higher risk of illness from COVID-19. Treatment for COVID-19 is covered when certain criteria are met, including that the member was eligible for COVID-19 testing, the treatment is authorized by the Program, and the treatment is not experimental.
We are able to provide COVID-19 testing and care to members who are at high risk due to certified WTC-related conditions while ensuring that the Program adheres to its WTC-related care mission, Program requirements, and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. All COVID-19 testing and treatment available through the WTC Health Program will align with CDC testing guidance. The Program will not cover antibody testing. There are no COVID-19 vaccine trials associated with the WTC Health Program. The Program does not cover any expenses related to clinical trials.
Your Clinical Centers of Excellence or the Nationwide Provider Network can inform you about whether the Program will cover the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing. Coverage of COVID-19 treatment cost requires approval by the Program Administrator, on a case-by-case basis.
If you have specific questions related to your WTC-related care and COVID-19, please contact your clinic directly. Clinic contact information is available on the Find A Clinic page.