Housatonic Times (CT) (11.26.12)
Many children have received their required vaccinations by the time they begin kindergarten, but a certain percentage fails to get them at the required age, which leaves them at risk for infections. Connecticut is ranked 30th in terms of vaccination levels. To correct that, the Connecticut Department of Public Health is providing 14 of the 16 recommended vaccines at no cost to all pediatric offices in the state beginning in January of 2013.
Using federal and state funds, Connecticut buys vaccines at the lowest possible price and supplies them at no cost to providers. The new program adds three vaccines—pneumococcal conjugate, influenza, and hepatitis A—bringing the total to 14. Children are required to have a full complement of vaccines, which in most cases involves several doses, to enter kindergarten. Dr. Jewell Mullen, Department of Public Health Commissioner, declares that 99 percent of children have the correct immunizations by the time they reach kindergarten; however, only about 76 percent have received the correct dosages by age three, as recommended by CDC; thus, Connecticut places in the middle of rankings for states.
All 16 vaccines, including the rotavirus and the human papillomavirus, are available to children without health insurance, to children who are underinsured but seen at federally qualified health centers, and to children on Medicaid. In treating those patients with private insurance, doctors can buy the vaccines privately and submit bills to the appropriate insurer. The human papillomavirus vaccine prevents both the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer; it is usually administered around age 11. Parents can opt out of vaccinations for specific religious or medical reasons. For those who say a particular vaccination is a violation of their faith, the state requires a statement to that effect.
Dr. Phillip Brewer, medical director for Student Health Services at Quinnipiac University, declares that “Giving vaccines is pretty expensive. The more a state does to expand the availability of vaccines the better. This is important for individuals and the kids who sit next to them.”