How Much Will Pfizer’s COVID Vaccines Cost in 2023?

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Key Takeaways

  • Pfizer plans to charge $100-$130 for its COVID-19 vaccines in 2023.
  • As part of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to cover recommended vaccines.
  • Pfizer has an assistance program for low-income Americans to get vaccinated. Uninsured adults may also be able to get the shots through public health programs.

New year, new vaccine prices. Come 2023, COVID-19 vaccines may be getting an upcharge.

So far in the pandemic, COVID-19 shots have been free and publicly available under the federal public health emergency declaration. The declaration was initiated in January 2020 and most recently renewed in October 2022, but it might expire sometime next year due to a lack of funding.

If Congress doesn’t agree to provide more funds, the burden of paying for COVID shots will shift to consumers.

“Ever since it became clear that Congress wasn’t going to allocate any more money for COVID funding, and as COVID became more and more political, it became untenable to get more federal dollars to help purchase vaccines,” Loren Adler, MS, associate director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, told Verywell. “The bivalent vaccines were basically the last vaccine purchase that the government had money in hand to make.”

Once federal funding for vaccination runs out, people who are uninsured might bear the brunt of the financial burden.

How Much Will COVID Shots Cost?

As early as the first quarter of 2023, Pfizer will be increasing COVID-19 vaccine prices to between $110 and $130 per shot. The new price tag is about twice as high as what the government has been paying for COVID-19 shots, Adler said.

According to a Pfizer spokesperson, the company will charge higher prices for the commercial vaccine because of the additional costs from distributing the shots to multiple payers and transitioning to a more expensive single-vial packaging (as opposed to the current multi-dose vials).

The commercial list price is consistent with the Pfizer shot’s value and the company’s goal of providing uninterrupted vaccine access to Americans, the spokesperson told Verywell.

Moderna has also given an estimate of about $100 for its commercial COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be more expensive than the flu shot, which costs between $18 and $28. But it will be cheaper than Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, which costs around $270 per dose.

Will You Have to Pay for COVID Shots?

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to fund vaccinations, and this coverage will extend to COVID-19 boosters once they hit the commercial market.

Adults who have health insurance can continue to access COVID-19 shots free of charge so long as they seek vaccinations through an in-network provider.

Children who are eligible for Medicaid will also have free vaccine access from providers who are registered with the Vaccines for Children Program.

But while most people will be able to get a free vaccine, uninsured adults may have to pay for COVID shots out-of-pocket, according to Jennifer Kates, PhD, senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

The shift could exacerbate existing disparities in vaccine equity, as low-income or uninsured adults are already less likely to be vaccinated than people with insurance, Kates said. People of color are more likely to be uninsured than White people, which could further racial disparities in vaccine uptake.

“There’s a whole range of other factors that likely present a barrier to them, such as fears about taking time off from work, or maybe having less access to information about where to get vaccinated,” Kates told Verywell. “The literal cost wasn’t a barrier, because there was no cost.”

Kates is currently conducting an analysis on how commercial charges for Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID shots differ from government charges. The analysis should be published in the coming weeks.

How Can You Get COVID Shots If You’re Uninsured?

Pfizer’s patient assistance program will provide free access to COVID-19 vaccines to eligible uninsured residents once the vaccine moves into the commercial market, the company said.

Uninsured adults can get most vaccines for free under the Section 317 Immunization Program, which is meant to provide free ACIP-recommended vaccines for uninsured adults. But Kates said this program is notoriously underfunded and so far it does not include COVID-19 vaccines.

“Right now, the money that has been provided is not sufficient to provide regular immunizations to all uninsured adults, let alone adding COVID,” Kates said. “Uninsured adults are not guaranteed that vaccine for free.”

Future Challenges for Vaccine Supply

Without the promise of government funding for vaccines, companies like Pfizer and Moderna may have less motivation to produce enough supply to prepare for future surges, according to KFF.

“The federal government guaranteed a market to those manufacturers—they had no risk,” Kates said. “Going forward, it’s unclear what will happen if there’s not a guaranteed purchase, it’s not clear what the demand is going to be.”

The price of COVID-19 shots could change over time, according to Adler. “It’s really just competitive dynamics at this—point—the costs of manufacturing each shot are very low,” he said.

If more vaccines get approved, there’s more of an incentive for manufacturers to lower their prices because of market competition, he added.

“For folks who are uninsured, it’s important to get the bivalent booster right now, which would still be completely free of charge,” Adler said.

What This Means For You

The government will likely cut funding for COVID-19 vaccines in 2023, leaving uninsured adults with a cost burden of between about $100 to $130 a shot. To avoid price hikes for now, experts recommend getting the bivalent booster as soon as possible.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC vaccine price list.

  2. Kaiser Family Foundation. Commercialization of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests: implications for access and coverage.

  3. Kaiser Family Foundation. Key facts about the uninsured population.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Questions answered on vaccines purchased with 317 funds,

By Claire Wolters
Claire Wolters is a staff reporter covering health news for Verywell. She is most passionate about stories that cover real issues and spark change.