WASHINGTON — COVID-19 shots, and rising prices: two things that have become part of our lives. Now, could the rising cost of vaccines be another new reality?
- Kaiser Family Foundation
- Pfizer spokesperson
- Moderna spokesperson
- The National Institutes of Health
- The Biden Administration
WHAT WE FOUND:
Social media’s been lit up over reports that Pfizer and Moderna, the manufacturers of the predominant COVID-19 vaccines here in the US, are supposedly quadrupling the price per shot.
Do the manufacturers plan to raise the price of their COVID-19 vaccines?
Both Pfizer and Moderna confirm: Yes.
According to Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, the government currently pays about $21 per dose of COVID-19 vaccine from either manufacturer.
A Pfizer spokesperson says a single-dose vial for patients age 12 and older will be listed at $110 to $130.
A spokesperson for Moderna didn’t name their price, but calls the Pfizer figure “consistent with the value.”
Is that how much it will cost us to get the shot?
Not in most cases. KFF reports Medicaid, Medicare, and the “vast majority” of privately insured patients will continue to be able to get the shot for free.
However, people without insurance won’t have a government pathway for free vaccines.
Pfizer has an assistance program they say can provide free vaccines to people who are uninsured.
Why the big price increase?
Even before announcing the end of the “pandemic emergency” declaration, the Biden Administration shared plans to transition the country away from a federally-funded pandemic response at some point in early 2023: after that, vaccines will be distributed within the traditional healthcare system.
A Pfizer spokesperson explained to us: that raises their distribution and transportation costs, and making vials that are *single dose* for widespread use is much more expensive than the multi-dose vials in use as part of the current distribution model.
However, some members of Congress–including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders–refute this explanation—calling it corporate greed, and calling the manufacturers to testify on the Hill.
That’s in part because of the reported billions of dollars the manufacturers have made since rolling out their respective vaccines, and Moderna’s was developed with nearly $6 billion in taxpayer funding, according to the NIH. But as another reminder–as of now–COVID-19 shots are still free for anyone who wants one—including boosters.
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