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Boots to offer Covid vaccines in England for nearly £100 a jab

Boots to offer Covid vaccines in England for nearly £100 a jab

Boots is to offer Covid vaccinations for almost £100 a shot, making it the latest provider to sell the jabs to those not eligible for a booster through the NHS.

The company has confirmed it will offer the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to healthy customers in England aged 12 and over from next week, at a cost of £98.95 a jab.

Boots is the latest company to capitalise on the decision by manufacturers to sell the vaccinations privately: last month, Pharmadoctor announced it would be offering Covid jabs to eligible customers through partner pharmacies in the UK.

While Pharmadoctor notes each pharmacy sets its own prices, it suggests the Pfizer/BioNTech jab will set customers back £75-£85, while the latest Novavax jab will cost about £45-£55.

According to Graham Thoms, the chief executive of Pharmadoctor, more than 1,000 patients have already been privately vaccinated using the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, with Novavax jabs expected to begin from 22 April.

The announcement by Boots comes as vaccination services gear up for the spring booster campaign, in which people aged 75 years and older, residents in care homes for older people, and people aged six months and over with a weakened immune system will be offered another Covid jab free on the NHS.

However, with eligibility for this and previous campaigns limited, most healthy people have not had a booster jab since late 2021, and experts warn their protection will have waned over time.

A spokesperson at Boots said: “We are launching a private Covid-19 vaccination service for people who are not eligible for an NHS vaccination but still want the option to protect themselves from the virus.

“Our private service builds on our existing delivery of Covid-19 vaccinations for the NHS and we are pleased we can now offer Covid-19 vaccinations both on behalf of the NHS and privately, as we have done with flu vaccinations for many years.”

Boots said it was working hard to make sure the jabs were as affordable as possible, stating that the near-£100 price tag allowed the company to cover the cost of the vaccine and other operational costs involved in delivering the service.

However, the price is several times higher than the cost of a private flu vaccination, which cost £19.95 at Boots last winter.

While experts have previously welcomed the move to make Covid jabs available to those not eligible for a booster through the NHS, they have warned high prices could limit their accessibility.

Dr Simon Williams, a behavioural scientist at Swansea University, said the cost of the Boots service was likely to be prohibitive for many people.

“The price of the Covid vaccines at £99 is regressive in that it will mean only those wealthy enough to afford it will be able to. Moreover, it is unlikely that even many of those who can afford it will do so at that price point,” he said.

Williams noted that expensive vaccines were also a concern given Covid tended to have worse outcomes among lower-income populations.

“Apart from government subsidisation, one potential way to make [Covid jabs] more affordable is for organisations and employers [to] think about offering boosters, like flu vaccines, to help employees protect their health – it could ultimately also prove cost-effective if it means less of the workforce lost to sickness, including via long Covid,” he said.

Prof Adam Finn of the University of Bristol said the high prices were not a surprise given businesses tended to charge what they thought people would pay, adding that in general costs tended to be held down by competition, which at present may be limited.

Source: theguardian.com