The Real Price of “Free”

FreeEveryone loves a good deal.  And you can’t get a better deal than something for free, right?  That’s why you’ll always see a fish bowl full of business cards for a free lunch or people “sharing” or “liking” pictures on Facebook for the chance to win a prize.  But the truth is, none of it comes for free.  It takes someone, some company, or some organization using it’s time, money, and/or resources to give you that little something for free.   This truth applies to vaccines as well.  When you hear about a clinic or hospital administering vaccines for free, it costs money, plain and simple.  The price tag associated with life-saving immunizations doesn’t start with the medical provider who administers them.  In fact, there is a long, very expensive, very involved process that has to be followed before a vaccine ever reaches its intended target.  It is because of these expenses that I often find myself at the peak of frustration when I hear a person’s rant against “big pharma” and the so-called undeserved and selfish profits that they make from the development and sale of vaccines.

It’s very simple.  If you don’t make money, you fail to exist.  This holds true for every major corporation, every charity, every non-profit, every small business owner, and the list goes on from there.  The highly regulated vaccine industry is a long, tedious, and involved process.  To create, test, and produce a vaccine in mass quantities takes years from start to finish.  Researchers must first study a particular virus or bacteria before scientists can even begin to formulate a vaccine.  Once a vaccine has been studied and developed in a laboratory, only then is it allowed to begin a four phase testing process which takes years to complete and can cost hundreds of millions of dollars in bills.  Even after a vaccine has been distributed, it will still be studied for many more years to make sure there are no unforeseen side effects.  Again, this all costs money.

Nothing in life is free.  Everything costs money to produce and vaccines are no exception.  If pharmaceutical companies were unable to pay for the creation and distribution of vaccines, they would fail to exist.  So do vaccine makers profit from their discoveries and creations?  Yes.  But why is that any different from your doctor, your pastor, or even an employee of a charity being paid for their time and services?  The truth is, it’s not.  Vaccines are one of the most valuable scientific advancements the world has ever seen, and as with all great scientific discoveries there is a price tag associated with the technology, research, and safety measures that are put into place to create and distribute them.  Countless dollars are spent each year to help make our world safer through immunizations and I for one believe that these discoveries are priceless.

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