Biden health official says COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will be free
A top U.S. health official told senators at a hearing on Tuesday that the federal government has funding to purchase the next round of vaccines, so individuals won’t have to pay for booster shots.
“We are planning, and I underscore the word planning, to have booster doses available if necessary for the American people,” David Kessler, the chief science officer for the White House’s COVID-19 response team, said.
“We do have the funds to purchase the next round, if they are necessary. So we will be able to purchase the next round to ensure if there are boosters, they are free, just as the last round,” Kessler told the Senate Health Committee.
“Beyond 2022?” Kessler said, “I look to your guidance, and your colleagues, on at what point do you transition back to a commercial market.”
Why it’s important: Kessler was responding to a question from Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who had asked what Congress could do to ensure fair pricing in the long-term for COVID-19 vaccines, especially given the significant taxpayer investments in many of the vaccines.
Comments by drug company executives, including at Pfizer, have raised concern that once the public health emergency ends, they will significantly raise prices on their COVID-19 vaccines.
Unlike several other rival companies that developed COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer did not use federal funds and said it planned to make a profit.