In this Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 file photo, frozen vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are taken out to thaw, at the MontLegia CHC hospital in Liege, Belgium. Credit: Francisco Seco / AP

WASHINGTON — Medicare is announcing a significant increase in what it will pay to vaccinate homebound older people against COVID-19, part of the Biden administration’s “last mile” effort to get shots in the arms of as many Americans as possible.

Officials said Wednesday the program will pay roughly $35 more per dose when enrollees are vaccinated at home. For a two-shot regimen that means Medicare will pay $150, or about $70 more than currently.

Medicare estimates that 1.6 million people 65 and older may have trouble getting to pharmacies or vaccination centers because of obstacles to leaving home. These can include physical impairments as well as neurologic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Local health departments in many communities have already launched efforts to locate and vaccinate homebound older people, who remain at risk because visitors may unwittingly bring the virus into their homes.

Medicare said the higher reimbursement should translate to a bigger incentive.