Free COVID-19 Vaccines for Americans Could End by Fall, Prices Are Likely To Go Up

Row Covid-19 or Coronavirus vaccine flasks on white background.
peterschreiber.media / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The days of the government providing free COVID-19 vaccines are coming to an end — it’s just a matter of when and how. And it’s looking like we will know very soon. 

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On Aug. 30, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Health and Human Services is holding a session for state department officials and healthcare industry reps to talk about how they can commercialize treatments for COVID in the near future so as to lift the expenses off the White House.  

“One of the things we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about in the last many months…is getting us out of that acute emergency phase where the U.S. government is buying the vaccines, buying the treatments, buying the diagnostic tests,” Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator said at an event sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, as reported by Fortune.

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Jha also said that he hopes to see the commercialization of “almost all these products” in 2023, and that “some of that is actually going to begin this fall.”

Last spring, the White House asked Congress for an additional $22.5 billion to cover COVID treatments including vaccines. A much smaller package — a $10 billion COVID relief bill — was put on the table, but the deal stalled on its way to Senate when conservatives pushed to weave in restrictive immigration measures.

With relief funds drying up, the White House is anxious to pass on the costs of COVID-related treatments including vaccines to the healthcare industry. The imminent move brings up a number of questions including:

  • Will all health insurance plans cover the vaccine?
  • What about booster shots?
  • Will free testing still be available?
  • Will insurance premiums rise?
  • What, if any, vaccine costs could end up in the lap of the consumer? 

We don’t yet have the answers to these questions, but it looks like we’ll be finding out soon. 

See:Biden Signs Inflation Reduction Act: Here Are the Biggest Non-Green Issues That Will Impact Your Wallet

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has been waning, it’s not over. Every day, on average, 392 people in the U.S die from the virus and the daily hospitalization rate hovers at 5,650, according to the CDC. 

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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