Covid vaccinations are free — but they’re taking a toll on local pharmacies’ bottom lines

The vaccine may come free — paid for by the federal government — and administering it is fairly easy, but the work behind those shots is monumental, the reimbursement rates from insurers can be low and the effort to get paid is a major undertaking.

It’s a shot in the arm for sure to know that you’re helping people,” said Antypas, who has worked 80- to 100-hour weeks running vaccination clinics while still operating a high-volume pharmacy. “But we’re certainly sacrificing our business, and it’s already difficult to be profitable. It’s just a drain on you.”

NBC News spoke to 10 community pharmacists in five states: Georgia, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York and Illinois. Seven obtained the vaccine despite the hurdles they faced, while three said the difficulty of securing a regular vaccine supply, billing issues and low reimbursement rates, particularly from private insurers and state Medicaid programs, discouraged them from participating in the nationwide effort.

NBC Covid vaccinations are free — but they’re taking a toll on local pharmacies’ bottom lines