Pfizer plans to sell the Covid vaccine it developed with BioNTech at $110 to $130 per dose for teens and adults once the U.S. government stops paying for them, the drugmaker said Friday.
The estimated price for Pfizer’s shot is in line with other adult vaccinations, such as for hepatitis and shingles, which can range from as little as $13 to more than $200, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The $110 to $130 price tag is the list price, meaning people with Medicare or private health insurance would most likely pay only a fraction of that cost or nothing at all, said Cynthia Cox, vice president and director for the program on the Affordable Care Act for KFF, also known as the Kaiser Family Foundation. Insurers, Cox noted, had been expecting the price to be around $100.
Pfizer said the price takes into account the “value” of the vaccine as well as the cost it takes to make it.
The shots will be packaged in a single-dose vial, the company said, rather than the multi-dose vials that have been used throughout the pandemic.
Cox said that once the federal government stops paying for the shots, people will most likely need to get the shots administered at an in-network pharmacy or clinic; otherwise, they might be on the hook for the full list price.
Since the start of the pandemic, the government has provided Americans with free Covid tests, vaccines and treatment, through a combination of funding from Congress and other government programs.
But officials have said that as the nation transitions out of the emergency phase of the pandemic and Covid supplies continue to diminish due to a lapse in funding, Covid prevention and care will need to move to the commercial market, most likely starting in the new year. The government has already stopped providing free Covid tests.
The private market and federal agencies have been preparing for the change.
A CDC advisory committee voted Wednesday to add Covid vaccines to the Vaccines for Children program, a federal plan that provides free vaccines to children eligible for or covered by Medicaid. The move would allow uninsured or underinsured children to receive the vaccines at no cost.
Cox said the cost of the vaccine could have a “slight upward effect” on insurance premiums.
Much of the effect on premiums "will depend on the price per dose as well as the number of people who get vaccines and boosters," she added.
Arthur Caplan, the head of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said that the price for Pfizer’s vaccine is still relatively low.
The price the company chose “makes sense,” he said, considering uptake of the new boosters is low.
Around 20 million people ages 5 and up have received an updated Covid booster since the start of September, according to data released Thursday by the CDC.
Pfizer said it also plans to provide free vaccines to people without insurance through its patient assistance program.