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Health Team

Study: Under-Insured Kids May Not Receive Newer Vaccines

Posted August 7, 2007

Most kids hate shots, but the pinch of a needle can protect them from many serious diseases. However, according to a recent study, many families with health insurance cannot get certain vaccinations.

"By immunizing the children, you're not just protecting the children, but you're protecting their families and communities," said pediatrician Dr. Sean Paltrey.

In most states, including North Carolina, under-insured children are referred to public health clinics to get vaccinated. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, newer, more expensive vaccines may not be provided.

"Even if those kids were referred to public health clinics to receive vaccines, they couldn't receive them because states just didn't have enough funding available to provide these vaccines to these under-insured kids," said study author Dr. Grace Lee with the Harvard Medical School.

Lee said under-insured families often have to pay out-of-pocket for their children's vaccines. Most states lack the funding needed to provide them free of charge.

North Carolina is better off than most states. Vaccines required for school admission are free to uninsured or under-insured families, including pneumococcal immunization, unlike many other states. However, the story is different for the meningococcal vaccine.

"In 40 percent of states, they were unable to provide meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which can protect adolescents against meningitis," Lee said.

In North Carolina, the meningococcal vaccine targeting adolescents ages 11 to 12 is not required for school admission, so the state does not offer it for free. Some universities do require it for incoming freshman. If your insurance policy does not cover it, the out-of-pocket cost is more than $100.

Lee said the problem nationwide affects more than 1 million kids who seek the vaccine at public clinics. She said she hopes insurance plans and the government can find ways to make sure under-insured kids of all ages get the immunizations they need.

18 Comments

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  • 68_polara Aug 9, 2007

    Yep.

  • hooptie1964 Aug 9, 2007

    Not a politically sensitive thought or comment but the harsh reality. Maybe couples that are having a difficult time making ends meet should think twice before having kids that the rest of us end up paying for?

    Popping out kid number 4 or 5 when you already pick up welfare checks isn't fair to those paying the higher tax brackets.

    Not the politically correct comment, but much closer to the harsh reality.

  • Bing Used Aug 9, 2007

    When I took my boys to the dr. for regular check ups, we paid the co-pay, dr suggested the menegitis immunization, nurse came back and told us insurance didn't cover it. The shot cost $116 and $13-15 (not exactly sure) to administer it.(total for shot $130+/-) We were not referred to health dept. and I didn't even think of it. The tetnus shot my 14 y/o received WAS covered by insurance. The health dept. offers those too. Don't know cost for children, but after Floyd, I believe mine was $10. The other good thing about the health dept. is you don't have to pay office visit to get shots.

  • gopanthers Aug 8, 2007

    bottom line - treatment vs the shots would cost the Tax Payer's a heck of a lot more in the long run.

  • gopanthers Aug 8, 2007

    Without a government subsidized immunization program nationwide just imagine how much tax dollars would be spent anyway treating these kids as they get older and get sick with contagious diseases and they start showing up at hospitals and clinics for treatment because they didn't get immunized in the first place and still don't have insurance or are still under insured. Cost of shots or treatment later on. Hmmmmmmmmm tough call. I know when I have a doctors appointment it usually runs around 250.00 for the visit (routine no less) which of course I pay my part and the rest by the insurance company.

  • 68_polara Aug 8, 2007

    "If you think this should be FREE then start a charity and find a doctors office and PAY for those shots. Do this and stop saying things are FREE when I am paying more each year than the last. The "Me-Me" group needs to step up and make changes to the system. Stop asking government to "take-care" of us from cradle-to-grave. What is a child dies? Should the government (TAX MONEY) pay for the funeral? Where does it end?"

    So well put.

  • Bing Used Aug 8, 2007

    I meant to say...if a child can be helped....THEN you can just get over yourselves!

  • Bing Used Aug 8, 2007

    FYI...there are grants and charties that pay for these sort of things. And since I paid $130 for this shot, I know they are high and not everyone can afford them. And if they can be gotten for FREE after I pay MY taxes, then there is nothing wrong with getting them for FREE.

    Not everyone is asking the government to take care of us from cradle to grave.

    YOUR taxes do not pay for everything!

    And if a child can be helped from these vaccines at the health dept for little or no cost to the individual...get over yourselves!

  • Sonet-transport Aug 8, 2007

    If you think this should be FREE then start a charity and find a doctors office and PAY for those shots. Do this and stop saying things are FREE when I am paying more each year than the last. The "Me-Me" group needs to step up and make changes to the system. Stop asking government to "take-care" of us from cradle-to-grave. What is a child dies? Should the government (TAX MONEY) pay for the funeral? Where does it end?

  • Bing Used Aug 8, 2007

    meningitis is deadly. This is why i thought it was a good idea and got my son vaccinated. If insurance still doesn't cover it in a few years when my youngest needs it...I will take him to health dept. By the way, grown ups can get the vaccine too, the health dept. told be it would cost $84 and have to be ordered. (That is still cheaper than at the dr.s office)

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