August is National Immunization Awareness Month and John Fox, MD, announces the availability of a child vaccination program through his office at Nevada Regional Medical Center (NRMC) Professional Practice Clinic. As an Internist and Pediatrician, Dr. Fox treats all ages, from newborns on up. One of the hallmarks of his practice is his mission to have young people properly vaccinated against infectious diseases, some of which could potentially become deadly.
For this reason, Dr. Fox is a proud participant in a national program called Vaccines for Children (VFC) which provided vaccines at no cost to eligible children who may not otherwise be able to afford such protective measures. Vaccines available through the VFC program are recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and protect babies, young children and adolescents from 16 different diseases. Children through 18 years of age are eligible if they meet at least one of the criteria:
- Medicaid eligible: A child who is eligible for the Medicaid program. (For the purposes of the VFC program, the terms “Medicaid-eligible” and “Medicaid-enrolled” are equivalent and refer to children who have health insurance covered by a state Medicaid program)
- Uninsured: A child who has no health insurance coverage
- American Indian or Alaska Native: As defined by the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (25 U.S.C. 1603)
- Underinsured (meaning the child has health insurance, but it either doesn’t cover vaccines, or doesn’t cover certain vaccines, or covers vaccines but has a fixed dollar limit or cap for vaccines. Once that fixed dollar amount is reached, a child is then eligible.)
Children whose health insurance covers the cost of vaccinations are not eligible for VFC vaccines, even when a claim for the cost of the vaccine and its administration would be denied for payment by the insurance carrier because the plan’s deductible had not been met.
Everyday illnesses can easily disarm parents. Some may believe that diseases such as measles, chicken pox, or mumps are just a natural part of life – much like the common cold. However, between 1989 and 1991 a measles epidemic in the United States resulted in the death of hundreds of children. Upon investigation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than half of the children who died had not been immunized.
Medical experts like Dr. Fox point out that even during the earliest stages of life, children need to be vaccinated for things like the flu, measles, chicken pox and polio. As they advance in years other shots are needed, along with “boosters”, additional doses of the same vaccine that build long-term immunity against a virus.
When asked if vaccines are shown to be linked to conditions such as autism, multiple sclerosis or diabetes, Dr. Fox is quick to debunk such misinformation. He notes that many organizations, including CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have done well-researched and documented studies, concluding time and again there is no link between vaccination and conditions like autism.
“In fact, not being vaccinated is linked to increased risk of long-term health problems,” says Dr. Fox. “By far the most common side effect from immunizations is due to the injection itself. Your child may experience some discomfort at the injection site for a short time. Vaccines are thoroughly researched and designed to be given at the proper time to work with our immune systems and be most effective.”
Even though some area students may not be returning to the traditional classroom setting this month, Dr. Fox encourages all parents to keep up with child vaccines. For more information about vaccinations or other general health concerns, Dr. Fox’s office may be reached by calling the NRMC Professional Practice Clinic at (417) 448-2121.