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Remember when they used to be free?

As the US government winds down its pandemic emergency spending, health giant Moderna is preparing to shift its vaccine to commercial distribution. On the free market, the jab will be priced at roughly $130, The Wall Street Journal reported. To put that in perspective, that's six-and-a-half flu shots.

Shots Fired

A handful of medical companies reaped great rewards for being at the forefront of the fight against Covid. So far, the US has spent more than $30 billion on vaccine development, purchases, and distribution, according to health nonprofit the Kaiser Family Foundation. Just last July, the Biden administration reached a $1.7 billion deal with Moderna for 66 million doses. By the end of 2022, Moderna had generated revenue of $19.3 billion.

But now the gloves and masks are off. The White House plans to cut its vaccine spending in May, so Moderna, as well as Pfizer, is getting ready to sell its antiviral serum commercially:

  • The US was paying between $15 and $26 for Moderna doses, which were then administered to hundreds of millions of Americans for free. Right now, 69% of the population is considered fully vaccinated, meaning there's still about 100 million people in the country who haven't had their boosters.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders wrote to Moderna, urging the company to reconsider its pricing, especially since the US paid for part of its development. Moderna President Dr. Stephen Hoge shot back and told the WSJ the pricing was fair because vaccine doses for pneumonia, hepatitis, and meningitis typically cost even more.

"We feel we have honored the support we got and then paid it back and then some," he said.

Getting the Vaccine: Don't get too worried, though. As long as you're insured -- which roughly 90% of the country is -- you won't be paying out of pocket. The other 10% are still eligible to receive the shot at no cost, Hoge told the WSJ. So you can rest easy knowing you can still afford Netflix and remain inoculated.