KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

$30 For A Flu Shot: An Outrage Or A Bargain?

The Los Angeles Times looks at the economics of producing a successful flu vaccine each year. And Reuters explores what may be on the horizon to improve those immunizations.

Los Angeles Times: Why Does A Flu Shot Cost So Much?
Among the long list of reasons the fearful give for reasons they're not getting a flu shot … there's one that relates more closely to economics: cost. For while doctors urge everyone to get a flu shot, flu shots, like many other things in life, are not free. Stop by your local CVS or Walgreens and you'll shell out $30 or so for the pleasure of getting poked by a needle behind a suggestion of a curtain. So why aren't flu shots free, or nearly free? After all, they've been around for a while, and there's a lot of demand -- isn't it about time flu shots cost the same as, say generic Tylenol? If only, says Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The real question should probably be -- why does the flu shot cost so little? (Semuels, 1/21).

Reuters: Insight: U.S. Government Investment Gives Flu Vaccines A Shot In The Arm
Fighting the flu may soon get easier. As early as next year, more modern and more effective vaccines will hit the market, thanks to investments by the U.S. government and pharmaceutical companies. And even bigger scientific advances are expected in the next decade, including a "universal" flu vaccine given every five to 10 years that would fight many strains of a virus, making annual shots all but obsolete (Steenhuysen, 1/19).

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