November 5th, 2009
10:52 AM ET

Should I be charged for the H1N1 vaccine?

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Robert in Kansas:

“I heard this week that the H1N1 virus has now turned up in pigs. Does this mean it can get into our food supply and I’ll get sick if I eat it?”


Great question. The U.S. Department of Agriculture did recently announce that a commercial herd of pigs tested positive for swine flu. The USDA continues to stress that you will not infected with the HIN1 virus from eating pork. In fact, the infected pigs in Indiana weren’t destroyed. Once they recover from the flu, they will go to slaughter according to the USDA. Officials experimentally infected pigs earlier this year to see whether their blood and meat also became contaminated. They concluded that the H1N1 virus stayed contained in the respiratory tract of infected pigs and the virus did not infect the meat. The World Health Organization and World Organization for Animal Health have also concluded that humans can not be infected with the H1N1 virus from consuming pork. For more information about H1N1 and food safety, click here.

From Cheryl:

“While at my doctor's office, I asked about the H1N1 vaccine. I was told it will be very expensive, like $300. Since I do not have health insurance, the expense of the H1N1 vaccine will factor into whether I get it.”


$300 is an excessive amount to pay for a free vaccine! That’s right – it’s free. The federal government has purchased the H1N1 vaccine and is shipping it out to states free of charge. They’re even picking up the tab for the syringes, needles, sharps containers, and alcohol swabs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also stated private clinics may not charge patients a co-pay or other out-of-pocket charges for the vaccine. The only thing you should be paying is perhaps an administrative fee for your office visit but in many cases that fee is being waived as well. I would double check with your doctor again on the price. If the office still attempts to charge you $300, I would decline and instead contact your state’s health department to locate public clinic administering the vaccines near you. You can also track the vaccine’s shipments in your state through the CDC’s Web site. Check it out by clicking here.

Filed under: Expert Q&A • H1N1 Flu • H1N1 Flu Vaccine

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.