NEW YORK (PIX11) — The cost of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters could soon come out of your wallet.
Pfizer said each jab will cost up to $130 without insurance once its government contract expires. It is part of growing trend toward the private market handling the pandemic.
Earlier this year, federal funding to help with COVID-19 testing expired. It has left a patchwork of free and not-so-free programs to get tested if you suspect you or a loved one has symptoms.
The same thing is about to happen with the vaccine, which up until this point has been free, in early 2023.
Dr. Karl Minges, chair of Population Health and Leadership at the University of New Haven, said the pivot to a private market at this phase in the pandemic is not exactly unexpected.
“This is the natural progression of what we would have expected, to get a handle on the pandemic, to have vaccines widely available, boosters widely available, and then to switch to a commercial market,” he said. “There are of course downside to that as well.”
Especially, Minges said, for low income, underinsured or uninsured Americans.
Private and public insurance is expected to cover most costs by law, but for everyone else it will not be as straightforward.
Pfizer said it has a program to help those with no insurance get the shots, and individual cities and states could begin paying for vaccines directly.
Minges said those support programs will need to continue for those most in need.
“And those are likely individuals less likely to get vaccines in the first place, but have reaped the greatest rewards from having access to vaccines and testing,” he said. “So we do have to keep an eye on the equitability equation.”
PIX11 reached out to the NYS Department of Health for comment.
“As with all vaccines, the goal of the New York State Health Department is to ensure equitable access to COVID 19 vaccines and boosters regardless of ability to pay,” a spokesperson said. “We are currently considering ways to continue meeting that goal, in light of possible changes to federal funding.”