Even though the government’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines is likely to run out this summer or fall, people without insurance will continue to have access, companies that make the shots say.
Moderna pledged Wednesday to make its Spikevax vaccine available at no cost to the uninsured through its patient assistance program.
“Everyone in the United States will have access to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine regardless of their ability to pay,” according to the statement.
Pfizer, which makes the Comirnaty vaccine with its German partner BioNTech, has already promised that US residents who lack insurance will be covered by its own patient assistance program.
“This is a huge, huge step in the right direction,” Dr. Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said of the companies’ commitments.
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Morita said late Wednesday she has been concerned that the uninsured, many of whom have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, would be deprived of access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“They’re our frontline workers doing a lot of critical, essential functions in our society,” she said, but they had higher rates of disease and death from the virus.
It’s not clear whether the uninsured would still be responsible for the cost of vaccine administration, which could run about $25 to $40 per dose.
People covered by commercial or government insurance will continue to receive free vaccinations.
Since COVID-19 vaccines first became available in late 2020, the US government has spent more than $30 billion to develop, buy and distribute covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations_vacc-people-booster-percent-pop5″ data-ylk=”slk:nearly 960 million doses” class=”link “>nearly 960 million dosesmaking shots available for free to everyone.
But with the nation’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency set to expire on May 11, officials have said they will not buy more and will only provide shots for free until the current supply runs out, likely this summer or fall.
The companies’ promises mean no one will face a gap in coverage.
The government initially paid Pfizer $19.50 per dose and Moderna $15.25 per dose, but for the 105 million bivalent booster doses, the cost was $30.48 per dose from Pfizer and $26.36 per dose from Moderna, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.
Moderna has suggested a commercial price for Spikevax of between $82 and $100 per dose. Pfizer has said the commercial list price for Comirnaty will be $110 to $130 per single-dose vial for patients 12 years and older.
Pfizer said key differences account for the price increase as it shifts from a government-run to a commercial model, including the cost of distributing vaccines outside of government, the need for costly single-dose instead of multi-dose vials and higher transportation costs.
Pfizer has also promised to continue providing reduced-price doses to low- and middle-income countries.
Contact Karen Weintraub at [email protected].
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Uninsured can still get free COVID vaccines after health emergency