Children with private insurance that covers vaccines can no longer get routine vaccinations at public health clinics and are now referred to their medical home under new immunization policies the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) implemented Jan. 1. DSHS said private insurance is accepted, however, in cases in which a local health department is a child's medical home.
DSHS said the new policies resulted from reduced federal funding for child and adult immunizations, higher prices for vaccines, especially for adult vaccines, and direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. DSHS also said:
- Underinsured children still may receive immunizations from their medical home, federally qualified health centers, and rural health centers.
- People who began a vaccine series while 18 or younger and who are eligible for the Texas Vaccines for Children Program may finish that series at public health clinics that are Adult Safety Net Program (ASN) providers, if the series will be completed before their 20th birthday.
- Vaccines available through the ASN program are limited and based on available funding. Currently, those are the hepatitis B, measles/mumps/rubella, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, and tetanus/diphtheria vaccines, but that could change. DSHS will provide pneumococcal and influenza vaccines at its clinics in counties that do not have a local health department.
- Other vaccines and biological products are available for adults based on recommended use in disease outbreaks and emergency situations. These include vaccines for rabies, hepatitis A, and varicella and immune globulins.
DSHS also said it will make meningococcal vaccine available to public health clinics through Jan. 31 to help support the new state law requiring certain first-time college students to provide proof of meningococcal vaccination. "Since these supplies are limited, university staff and other community agencies should continue to refer students to their medicals homes, leaving the public health clinics as providers of last resort," the agency said.
TMA will ask DSHS for information about the new policies that it can share with physicians at the TMA Winter Conference. Meanwhile, email Emily Babcock or Margaret Mendez in the TMA Public Health Department if you have questions or comments on these changes. You may also call the DSHS Immunization Branch at (800) 252-9152.
Action, Jan. 3, 2012