Published Online: Saturday, September 1, 2007
Health-insurance coverage may not be a benefit when it comes to childhood vaccinations. A study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (August 8, 2007), found that underinsured children whose insurance does not cover the recommended vaccines may never receive them.

This finding is ironic, because uninsured children or children who qualify for public insurance can receive vaccines at no cost. An estimated 14% of children are underinsured. The options for these children are to pay for the vaccines or to get the vaccines free at a federally qualified health center or rural health clinic. Whereas the children technically have access, they may have to travel hundreds of miles to the closest center.

States can provide vaccines to private physicians who treat underinsured children and to public health clinics. Many states lacking the finances are not purchasing newer, more expensive vaccines for these children, however.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are against prioritizing vaccines. Instead, they support better insurance coverage and increased government funding.

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