Childhood immunizations are widely credited as one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century. For the 13 diseases included on the current U.S. childhood immunization schedule, 20 million cases of disease are prevented per year, 42,000 lives are saved, and the healthcare system realizes $13.6 million in direct medical costs (see the study here).
Unfortunately, due to challenges with vaccines costs, reimbursements and financing systems, there has been a decrease in the number of healthcare providers that offer vaccines. This has led to more children presenting for vaccinations at the county health departments and more children with incomplete vaccinations.
For several years now, immunization partners locally and nationally have worked to identify problems with vaccine financing and availability and define solutions. This summer, the Legislature passed House Bill 2491, which facilitated the creation of a Vaccine Financing and Availability Advisory Committee to analyze the situation in Arizona. The Committee’s report was released this week, and makes recommendations about cost, purchasing, payment and availability of vaccines. Bottom line? It’s going to take work to resolve the challenges of vaccine financing and accessibility, but coordinated action among stakeholders may get us closer to a solution.