Some Seniors Facing Difficulty Obtaining Pertussis Vaccinations
Although state health officials have urged elderly Californians to receive vaccinations for whooping cough, or pertussis, some physicians are telling seniors that they cannot receive the vaccine, the Los Angeles Times reports.
California currently is facing an epidemic of whooping cough, which has affected nearly 6,000 state residents and contributed to 10 infant deaths.
In response to the outbreak, state health officials are urging residents -- particularly those who are in close contact with infants -- to receive the Tdap vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
In 2005, FDA licensed the Tdap vaccine for adolescents and adults up to age 64. However, in July California officials recommended that residents ages 65 and older also receive the vaccination.
In August, CMS released a statement supporting California's recommendation and confirming that Medicare would cover the Tdap vaccine for seniors.
Shelly Burgess,Â FDA spokesperson, said the Tdap age limit initially was set at 64 because a clinical study of the vaccine did not include enough seniors.
Recommendations Not Fully Implemented
Despite the state and federal recommendations, health officials have reported that some physicians are providing elderly patients with outdated information about the Tdap vaccine.
This week, the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet in Atlanta to discuss Tdap immunizations for seniors. If the group endorses California's recommendations, some private insurers might begin covering Tdap shots for elderly policyholders (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 10/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.