When Can You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine – and How Much Will It Cost?

Nurse performing drive-thru immunization.
Studio CJ / Getty Images

The same people who dreaded getting shots as children (that is, pretty much everyone) are now eagerly awaiting their chance to get stabbed by a medical professional. The reward, we hope, will be good health and the end of social distancing — rather than a lollipop from our nurse. But with essential workers, senior government officials and vulnerable individuals first in line to get their doses of the new COVID-19 vaccines, how long will it be before the average person can get inoculated?

The answer is both “quite awhile” and “not as long as you might think.”

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) planned to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of 2020. Unfortunately, they fell short of their goal — only about 2.8 million Americans entered the new year fully vaccinated. The New York Times reported that healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities have top priority, as well as White House staff. The estimated number of people in this category is 24 million; and the current number of Americans vaccinated is around 9 million.

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See: Vaccine Roll-Outs Are Expensive — But Not Vaccinating the World Would Cost $9 Trillion
Find: Will Medicare Cover the Coronavirus Vaccine?

Specific timing depends on the roll-out plan by state, along with unusual supply chain issues, like how much dry ice a state has on hand to keep vaccine supplies in cold storage. For context, keep in mind that at least 21 days must pass between the first and second doses of the vaccine.

Vaccination may be available to people other than healthcare workers, depending on your state. In several states, for example, residents 65 and older are able to receive the vaccine. Other than older Americans, groups who are next in line include essential workers (first responders, retail workers, teachers) and those with underlying health conditions.

Additionally, a new, single-dose vaccine is in the works from Johnson & Johnson, which could solve distribution shortcomings and vaccinate the public much more rapidly than Moderna and Pfizer’s two-dose options. However, it looks like the earliest it will be available is the end of March, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

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Another key question is what the vaccine will cost. According to Healthline, the cost for each dose ranges from $3 to $37; with Pfizer’s vaccine at around $19.50 a dose, Moderna’s at $32 to $37, Johnson & Johnson’s at just $10 and AstraZeneca’s upcoming two-dose vaccine at a mere $3 to $4 per dose.

See: Should You Invest In Vaccine Stocks Right Now?
In the News: Johnson & Johnson Requests Emergency Authorization for Its Single-Dose Vaccine, Says It Can Ship Immediately

Most of us will have to wait months to receive the vaccine, although it is hoped that any amount of vaccination will reduce the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, though, the general public shouldn’t expect to get vaccinated until the spring or early summer; potentially later, if distribution remains an issue in your state.

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Last updated: Feb. 23, 2021

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About the Author

Ann Logue is a writer specializing in business and finance. Her most recent book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide: Options Trading (Alpha 2016). She lives in Chicago.
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