Local News

State Health Officials Have Plan to Make 5 New Vaccines Available for Kids

Posted February 5, 2007

It may be a shot in the arm for North Carolina—a new plan that would give every child in the state access to five vaccines recommended by the federal government. One of the vaccines may cause some controversy, however.

Kathy Therrien is not one of those. Her kids never miss a doctor's appointment. Prevention is key for her family.

"For us, it's very important. We haven't met a vaccine we don't love," Therrien said. Part of the reason is that her insurance covers immunizations—but not everyone is that lucky.

The state makes vaccines available, but the five new vaccines aren't on the approved list.

"We want to make sure that we remove every barrier for children and their families for getting vaccines," says Leah Devlin, Director for the North Carolina Public Health Department. She is proposing a plan that would provide the new vaccines to all children.

The vaccines protect children against meningitis, influenza, rotavirus, pneumococcal disease and HPV, but they are not cheap. The HPV vaccine requires three doses and costs $120 a shot.

The HPV vaccine may cause controversy. It's used to treat a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. Some fear adding it to the state list may encourage premarital sex.

Others disagree.

"If all the knowledge that they have about aids and gonorrhea and syphilis hasn't stopped them from having sex, this is not going to add to anybody having sexual intercourse," said Dr. David Horowitz, a pediatrician.

 Kathy Therrien said it's a decision she thinks should be left up to the parent.

"I think the state making it available is a good thing, and then I think each family would have to look it that themselves to see how they feel about that," Therrien.

While the new vaccines would be available, the state wouldn't require children to get the shots.

The plan needs legislative approval. The proposal calls for health insurance companies to foot the bill, at a cost of between $35 million and $40 million dollars.
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