By Richard Klass
The great news is South Florida hospitals are no longer overwhelmed with COVID-19 (COVID) cases. Staffed inpatient beds by patients with confirmed COVID is about 1.6% across Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties for the seven days concluding on May 18, 2023.1
It took time, but no doubt the public health effort eventually protected all Florida population demographics.
- To date, 95% of the 65+ population received at least one dose; 94.3% completed the primary series (two vaccinations two weeks apart) but this increases to 98.6% among recipients “with a valid county of residence.”2
- For the total Florida population, 87.2% received at least one COVID vaccination, and 73.5% completed the primary series.3
- Seniors are most likely to seek bivalent protection (30%). Overall, only 11.5% of Florida’s population has sought the newest booster.4 This is a concern since the data show less interest among Floridians in updating their vaccination protection.
Protection against all COVID strains comes at a high cost. Nationally, over the $30 billion spent so far on vaccines.5 “The federal government has purchased 1.2 billion doses of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines combined, at a cost of $25.3 billion, or a weighted average purchase price of $20.69 per dose.”6 Current vaccines are more expensive.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates recent federal government expenditures are on average at $28.89 per vaccine dose. The Pfizer offering is more expensive ($30.48) than the Moderna ($25.36) cost per dose. Compared to the initial federal acquisition cost, the Pfizer price is up 56% versus Maderna that increased their price by 73%.7 In total, the U.S. has purchased 171 million doses of the bivalent booster at a cost of $4.9 billion.”8 Starting January 1, 2024, the federal government will not pay for COVID vaccinations; CMS will likely set the “payment rate for administering COVID vaccines to align with the payment rate for administering other Part B preventive vaccines ($30 per dose).9
Adding to the vaccination cost, is administration of the antiviral pill Paxlovid. Designated for mild to moderate COVID, the treatment costs $530 per dose.10
The CDC simplified the COVID-19 vaccine recommendations (4/19/2023) for people at higher risk who need the protection from additional COVID-19 vaccine doses. New guidelines provide “flexibility for healthcare providers to administer additional doses to immunocompromised patients as needed.”11
Guidance now allows “additional updated (bivalent)12 vaccine dose for adults ages 65 years and older and additional doses for people who are immunocompromised.” The updated bivalent mRNA COVID vaccine is recommended for individuals six years and older regardless of monovalent vaccine dosing status. “Individuals ages six years and older who have already received an updated mRNA vaccine do not need to take any action unless they are 65 years or older or immunocompromised. For young children, multiple doses continue to be recommended and will vary by age, vaccine, and which vaccines were previously received.”13 These new guidelines are concurrent with the World Health Organizations’ proclamation that “COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency.”14 The US target date for the emergency declaration expiration is May 11, 2023.
Richard Klass, President, 2CY, Inc., can be reached at email@example.com.
5 This includes vaccines that have been authorized for use in the United States (vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, and Novavax) and others that either did not make it past the clinical trial phase or for which manufacturers have not sought authorization (vaccines from Merck/IAVI, Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and Astra-Zeneca).
11 CDC Newsroom l
12 Bivalent vaccines protect against both the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 and the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. Related boosters are manufactured by both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Monovalent (original) mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are no longer recommended for use in the United States.
13 CDC Newsroom