Pfizer to start charging for COVID-19 vaccines when government funding stops

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 6:49 PM, Oct 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-21 21:53:54-04

The COVID-19 vaccine is a shot some people will now add to their annual routine, but the price could increase next year when government funding is eliminated.

Pfizer just announced they plan to sell the COVID-19 vaccine for $110-$130 per dose after the government stops paying for them.

Some people say that won't deter them and they're willing to pay any price to get the vaccine.

"Well, I have insurance so I mean, I'd get it," said Carol Renaud, Bay Area resident.

"It's not going to affect me one way or the other," said Georgia Boehm, Huntington Beach resident.

"Well, it doesn't matter. If I gotta pay for it, fine. I got plenty of money so that's not the issue," said Al Alcorn, Bay Area resident.

"I'd probably still be more likely. I had COVID in January of '21 and probably don't want it again so I would get it," said Marilyn Scott, Cleveland resident.

People who never received the initial vaccine say having to pay for it makes them even less likely to get it.

"I never really believed in the vaccine itself. I've gotten COVID. I've done quite well, so I wouldn't get it," said Fernando Escarenl, Pismo Beach resident.

Some disagree with the drug company's decision to charge for the vaccine.

"I don't think they should because they have homeless people who can't afford the shot. You have families with children that can't afford it. I don't think it's right. I think they should be free," Renaud said.

Some community members are already feeling financially strained when they have to shell out the cash for a flu shot that's not covered by insurance. By adding another cost for the COVID-19 vaccine, pharmacists worry about customers with financial needs.

"There's always a financial barrier for some preventative measures," said Pashmina Patel, owner and pharmacist at Best Care Pharmacy.

Patel hopes insurance will cover the cost.

"Well, we would hope that preventative measures and care would be zero copayments for the people and would be covered so more people would take advantage of this," Patel said.

Dr. Brian Roberts, owner and medical director at Med Stop Urgent Care Madonna Plaza, broke down what will likely happen with health insurance as the drug company begins to charge for the vaccine.

"The experts are predicting that the vaccines and boosters are still going to remain essentially free for those who have government or commercial private insurance," he said.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Services, "Medicare Part B will continue to cover and pay for the vaccine product and its administration with no cost-sharing for the beneficiary, regardless of whether the COVID-19 vaccine products are provided by the United States Government or are commercially available for purchase by providers."

"Different treatments and tests are FDA approved versus an emergency use authorization and those things can be used by insurance companies to decide what they'll cover and what they won't," Dr. Roberts said.

For those without health insurance, Pfizer said they are planning on providing free vaccines through their patient assistance program.

The COVID-19 vaccine was recently added to the Vaccines for Children program. This provides the vaccines to children who qualify for Medicaid free of charge.