EDITORIAL: Reasonable alternative needed when free vaccinations end

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The Indiana Department of Health’s Immunization Division has stated that beginning July 1 it will no longer be able to provide vaccinations to families with health insurance.

State health officials said the new rule will ensure that families with insurance don’t rely on free vaccines.

We understand the state health department’s not wanting to have its free services taken up by those who can afford them, as using the department’s time and money for those could deprive some indigent people of necessary care.

But we feel there also needs to be a reasonable alternative for obtaining vaccinations, many of which are required for Indiana school children.

Some area families have complained that their primary health-care providers do not offer vaccinations. Some have speculated that it is because there is little profit in them, but it could also be because they don’t have the time to do vaccinations and also attend to all the other needs of their patients. Or perhaps it is because they knew they couldn’t compete with the state health department’s free vaccines.

County Nurse Sara Gehlhausen told the Perry County News, “We’ve been the primary source for routine vaccinations in the county and that’s creating a void. A lot of us are hoping there will be locations in the area where families can obtain vaccinations.”

She also said the county’s health board is addressing the situation.

That’s encouraging news. Perhaps the county health board can persuade a nurse or nurse practitioner to come into the county for a few designated times a year – well publicized in advance – to provide vaccinations at a reasonable cost.

Cost is a concern even for those with health insurance, as the new state rule banning free vaccinations for insured families includes even those who have to meet a high deductible or have a co-payment required.

So again we hope that a reasonable alternative at a reasonable price can be provided, as we do not want to see Perry County’s overall health jeopardized by some people trying to skirt immunization requirements because they can’t afford them.

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