Vaccine Gap for Underinsured Children
Limited Funding Hampers Vaccination of Underinsured Children, Study Shows
Aug. 7, 2007 -- Underinsured children may be going without recommended
vaccines due to limited federal and state funding, a new study shows.
Kids who are underinsured for immunization come from families with private
health insurance that doesn't fully cover vaccination costs.
The new study, published in The Journal of the American Medical
Association, is based on information provided by state immunization program
managers during 2005 and 2006.
The researchers included Grace Lee, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School and
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
First, Lee's team interviewed nine immunization program managers. Based on
those interviews, the researchers sent surveys to immunization program managers
nationwide, 48 of whom completed the survey.
The states' funding and health care situations varied. But in general, the
managers cited limited federal and state funding as the main reason why
underinsured kids may not get vaccinated as recommended.
For instance, Lee and colleagues tracked recommendations for the chickenpox
(varicella), pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, and
tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough vaccines.
"None of the vaccines we studied was covered for all underinsured
children in the United States," write the researchers.
Growing costs plus shrinking budgets add up to a vaccination gap for
underinsured children, notes editorialist Matthew Davis, MD, MAPP.
"As the number of recommended vaccines and the prices of those vaccines
increase, so too do the economic barriers to vaccination for underinsured
children," writes Davis, who works at the University of Michigan's Child
Health Evaluation and Research Unit.