Insurance companies must cover the cost of a COVID-19 vaccine, the industry's top state regulator on Wednesday said. 

The Department of Financial Services issued an emergency rule requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of the vaccine, which will require two doses to be immunized from the virus. 

“As part of New York’s ongoing strategy to contain the pandemic, DFS has taken this action to ensure that cost-sharing is not an obstacle to New Yorkers receiving the vaccine,” said Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell. “This regulation cements New York health insurers’ obligation to provide immediate coverage of the vaccine at no cost, consistent with federal rules.”  

A vaccine rollout began this week and several thousand people have already been vaccinated, with at-risk health care workers and nursing home residents receiving the first shots.

New York will likely begin vaccinating people with underlying health conditions at the end of January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier in the day. The rollout will be done with regional health care networks leading the effort.

The rule announced by the Department of Financial Services will cover policies that have been grandfathered in under the pre-Affordable Care Act plans, which is in line with an executive order previously issued by the governor.