Let’s face it: no one likes getting shots. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinations help protect everyone from infants to elderly people against all sorts of dangerous and potentially lethal diseases.
Each August the CDC and others raise awareness about immunizations. So today, for National Immunization Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at some of our work related to the topic.
Lining up the shots
Routinely recommended vaccinations for children include those to prevent measles and whooping cough (pertussis). Vaccines are also recommended for adults to protect against flu, pneumonia, tetanus, and other diseases.
The shingles vaccine is specifically recommended for older adults. Shingles is a viral infection caused by a reactivation of the chicken pox virus. It produces a painful, blistering rash and affects about 1 million individuals each year, particularly those over 60 years old.
Coverage for kids…
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program requires its plans to cover routine immunizations. CHIP has provided coverage for more than 8 million children in low-income families that don’t have health insurance but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.
The good news is that kids covered by CHIP generally seem to have the same coverage of their routine shots as other children, which we found by comparing coverage for medical care in CHIP plans to some new plans created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 5 states.
Medicare offers different coverage for different vaccines. The flu and pneumonia vaccines are typically free to beneficiaries—primarily older adults. Some other vaccines can vary in cost to beneficiaries.
In 2011, we looked at coverage of routinely recommended vaccinations in Medicare. We found that many of the almost 22 million people enrolled in Medicare's prescription drug benefit didn’t get their routinely recommended vaccinations, like the one to prevent shingles.
Part of the reason they didn’t get the shingles vaccine was because more than 60 percent of physicians and pharmacies did not stock it, back in 2011 when we issued the report.
- Comments on GAO’s WatchBlog? Contact email@example.com.