A panel of medical experts has recommended that the government require all insurance plans to cover vaccinations and offer vouchers so that individuals without any insurance coverage can still receive shots. While the government has been the major buyer of vaccinations, the proposal would change its role to ensuring that everyone receives them, including a subsidy for health plans and providers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which requested the study, reported that only 75% of the nation?s toddlers are vaccinated on schedule against 9 different diseases. According to the CDC, health coverage varies among states and major cities. Federal health officials urged communities to eliminate those disparities.
Currently, the federal government spends about $1 billion annually to purchase 50% of childhood vaccines, which are primarily distributed through the United States in programs such as Medicaid and Vaccines for Children. Additional funds are also spent for some adult vaccines. A reduction in the number of companies producing vaccines, however, has helped lead to shortages in the past couple of years. The CDC said that it plans to establish a vaccine reserve by 2006 to prevent problems in the future.