Vaccines for Whooping Cough Too Costly To Provide, Physicians Say
Vaccines to prevent pertussis, or whooping cough, often are too expensive for physicians to provide, the AP/Ventura County Star reports.
Last week, California health officials declared a whooping cough epidemic in the state, after confirming 910 cases of whooping cough and five infant deaths resulting from the highly contagious respiratory disease.
California Academy of Family Physicians spokesperson Tom Reilly said that even when insurers cover the vaccines, the cost of storing and administering them is prohibitive. He said that administering one round of vaccines to a child can cost a physician office $450.
Vaccine administration costs are a problem only for insured patients because uninsured children can receive vaccines through the federal Vaccines for Children Program or Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, the AP/Star reports.
In addition, the California Department of Public Health provides county health departments and hospital systems with doses of the vaccines at no cost, according to department spokesperson Ken August.
California Academy of Family Physicians has proposed a bill (AB 2093) that would require insurers to cover the administration costs for vaccines.
The lobbying group California Association of Health Plans opposes the legislation, arguing that it goes too far.
The bill is scheduled for consideration by the Senate Health Committee next week (Mohajer, AP/Venture County Star, 6/25).
Vaccines for Seniors?
The whooping cough epidemic is raising new questions about whether seniors should receive the vaccine.
According to whooping cough vaccine guidelines, seniors are too old to receive the vaccination. However, many physicians say that people who are in close contact with infants should be vaccinated against whooping cough regardless of their age.
Some doctors are using the vaccine "off-license" for people outside its federally regulated age limits (Dahlberg, Sacramento Bee, 6/27).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.