Aug. 04--The rules may have changed since you last took your children to get their back-to-school immunizations.
Low-cost vaccines offered at Tarrant County public health and immunization outreach events are limited this year because of policy changes and state funding cuts of about $7.8 million, said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman with the Texas Department of State Health Services.
"Federal officials said they wanted the low-cost vaccines to go to the people who didn't have any insurance, the people who really needed the help," Van Deusen said.
Parents who bring children 18 and younger to immunization outreach efforts and public health centers will be screened for health insurance before they receive services, said Terri Andrews, chairwoman of the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County. Parents with private insurance will be asked to go to their primary care provider, Andrews said.
However, because of federal rule changes in the Affordable Care Act, parents with insurance may be able to get immunizations with no co-pay at their doctor's office. Parents should check with their health insurance provider to determine which vaccines are covered, Andrews said.
Those eligible to receive immunizations at public health centers include children on Medicaid, children covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program, Alaskan natives or children who are underinsured or uninsured, according to a news release from Tarrant County Public Health.
Texas children are considered underinsured if their guardians' private insurance plans do not cover vaccines or only selected vaccines, or if the private coverage caps immunizations at a certain amount, the release said.
"The vast majority of insurance plans cover recommended vaccines for children," said Jason Terk, chairman of the Texas Medical Association Council on Science and Public Health.
Another change involves older students who are now required to receive meningitis vaccinations before registering for college. This year, students 30 and younger are required to have the meningitis vaccine to enroll in college. Before, only those living on campus were required to have the vaccine.
Students attending for-profit postsecondary educational institutions -- trade schools such as ATI or DeVry University, for example -- are not required by law to receive the meningitis vaccine, said Dominic Chavez, a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
"We have made an effort to encourage students to get their booster for the meningitis vaccine while they are still in high school," Chavez said.
"Once you get older you may not have access to low-cost vaccines. Students need to be able to show they have received the initial or booster shot within five years of enrollment."
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752
(c)2012 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Visit the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at www.star-telegram.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services