Here’s How Much Vaccines Cost

by Caroline Tung Richmond

During my daughter's first year of life, I lost count how many vaccinations she received. Every time we went to the pediatrician, my baby became an infant pincushion, getting poked by a bunch of shots, from HepB to RV to DTaP. Still, we were really lucky because our health insurance covered the vaccines — but not all plans cover immunizations. As vaccine prices rise, you might wonder how many shots your insurance will cover and how much you'll need to pay out of pocket. If you're trying to figure out your family's medical expenses, here's how much vaccines cost and how much you should start saving.

Vaccines can get pretty pricey. From 1986 to 2014, the average cost to immunize a child with private insurance rose from $100 to $2,192, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Today, vaccines also vary a lot in price — a DTap shot can range between $17 to $29 while an HPV dose can cost as much as $193. With so many numbers to keep track of, the CDC thankfully provides an up-to-date chart with a complete rundown of vaccine pricing. You can also compare prices at different health clinics, like the Denver Public Health's Immunization Clinic and the Washington Travel Clinic, to get a better idea of how much each shot costs.

The rising price of vaccines can get any parent's heart racing, but here's some good news. When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, it required new healthcare plans to cover preventive services, like vaccines. So be sure to call your insurance company to find out what your policy covers, suggested the Immunization Action Coalition. You might not have to pay a penny out of pocket.

If you don't have health insurance or if your policy doesn't cover vaccines, you still have options to get subsidized or even free immunizations for your child. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program helps provide vaccines to kids that protect against 16 diseases, and your child might be eligible if your family is uninsured, underinsured, Medicaid-eligible, or if they're American Indian or Alaskan Native. To learn if you qualify for this program, you should contact your VFC coordinator and locate a VFC provider.

With vaccine prices increasing, you might be worried about how to cover the costs. Kids are expensive, after all, and their medical bills can take a real toll on your finances. But with changes in health policy and with the help of social programs, your family might be eligible for free or affordable vaccines that'll keep your kid healthy and strong.