Doctors Still Upset About New Vaccine Program

Oct 16, 2012

In January, the state will roll out a new program forcing doctors to get most of their child vaccines from the state. But physicians have been opposed to the change. And, as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, two groups representing doctors say the state's new plan leaves them shocked and dismayed.

As it stands now, doctors only have to get their vaccines for children from the state if their patient is on Medicaid. But as the state tries to save money and vaccinate more children, nearly all childhood vaccines will have to be bought from the state as of January.

The Connecticut State Medical Society and the Connecticut Academy of Family Physicians don't like the plan. One concern is that the state already has problems meeting the demand for vaccines.

But making matters worse, they also say the state has sent out letters to healthcare providers implying that they support the new program -- when they don't. The two organizations have demanded the state stop using their names and they say they're considering their legal options to protect physicians from the new vaccine program.

John Foley is the president of the Connecticut State Medical Society.

"We have not been in support of it, the pediatricians have not been in support of it, and for the letter to go out more than implying that we've been in support of it was unconscionable. And we want our name taken off the letter, and I think we were very clear to them."

Foley says the vaccine program is well-intended but it is addressing a problem that doesn't exist.

For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.

(Reporter's Note: The state did not provide comment in time for the initial airing of the story. Below is a statement the Department of Public Health provided by email afterwards.)

"DPH is responsible for implementing the new law, effective January 1, 2013, requiring all health care providers who administer vaccines to children to obtain those vaccines through the Connecticut Vaccine Program. As part of our process, we asked the Connecticut State Medical Society and two other statewide physician groups to review and comment on draft guidance materials for health care providers. The feedback we received was valued and appreciated, and important changes were made based on this feedback."

"This new program will expand access of critical vaccines to Connecticut children, and builds upon the success of Connecticut’s existing childhood vaccination program, which was created in 1982 to ensure the vaccination of all children in the state, regardless of whether they are covered by HUSKY, Medicaid, private insurance, or are uninsured."

"Three new vaccines will be available through this universal access program – pneumococcal conjugate, influenza, and hepatitis A. These three vaccines are required for day care enrollment, and both hepatitis A and influenza are required for pre-kindergarten enrollment. The goal of the program is to make sure all children get vaccines on schedule so the cost of the vaccine is not a barrier for children to get immunized."