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Growing Number of U.S. Kids Not Getting Needed Vaccinations
Date:8/31/2007

that success could be challenged by a squeeze now facing some members of the working poor. Government assistance for immunization is dwindling at the same time that insurance companies are trimming their coverage for vaccinations, Pisani and Bocchini said.

Some diseases like whooping cough that are vaccine-preventable already are seeing a resurgence in parts of the country, Bocchini said.

The Section 317 Immunization Program is one of the tools the federal government uses to reach children of families who can't afford to protect their children, Pisani said. But the money for that program hasn't kept up with the growing number of vaccinations needed for children, she said.

In 1999, Section 317 funding allowed 747,000 American children to receive the full raft of recommended immunizations, according to a report to Congress filed by the CDC in April.

But, the report added, by 2006, the 317 program was only able to fully vaccinate an estimated 280,000 children. The report blamed the decrease on the rising cost of vaccines and the increased number of vaccinations in the routine childhood and adolescent schedule.

New recommended vaccinations include a booster shot for whooping cough, in an attempt to counter the disease's resurgence. Others include a new vaccination for meningitis and one for human papillomavirus, a vaccine that could radically diminish a young woman's chances of contracting cervical cancer later in life.

"We have new vaccines and no funding for it," Pisani said.

At the same time, insurance companies are slow to respond to these new vaccines, Bocchini said.

Some insurers don't even cover established vaccines, he said. "There are insurance policies that don't cover vaccines or, if they cover them, there is a co-pay, or it is part of the deductible," Bocchini said.

As the insurance companies trim their coverage, family doctors have to dip into their own pockets to help
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