In an NBC 6 exclusive report, Louisiana health units are preparing to longer offer childhood immunizations.
It's a proposed state budget cut that's expected to have parents scrambling to find a family doctor. Instead of heading to a parish health unit for free immunizations, parents who've enrolled their children into the Vaccines for Children program, will now have to take them to the doctor's office to get the same service.
The proposed cut is expected to take effect July 1.It was mentioned during the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget hearing Feb. 22. Healthcare providers across the state were notified this week and told to prepare. They're also notifying parents of the possible change.
"We want to make sure that parents don't wait until the last minute...that they're again making contact with the physician, making sure the physician provides the VFC vaccines for the children in the Medicaid program and that they have them available so they can get them on time prior to when they need them for school," said Dr. Joseph Bocchini, Chair of the Pediactrics Department at LSU-Health Sciences Center.
The proposed restructuring of the Department of Health and Hospital's Office of Public Health Vaccines for Children program is expected to affect eight percent of children receiving immunization across the state; that accounts for as many as 35,000 children.
It will not
be made final until a budget is voted on and passed. That won't happen until
after April 8, when the legislative session begins.
Here's a statement from the Dept. of Health and Hospitals:
"In the State's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which was presented to the
Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget on Friday, Feb. 22, one of the items included was restructuring the administration of the DHH Office of Public Health Vaccines for Children program. Under the proposed restructuring, children who received immunizations at parish health units would be transitioned to receive immunizations by their private pediatricians or health care providers, where 92% of children already receive their immunizations through the program.
The DHH Office of Public Health recently sent pediatric immunizations providers a notice letting them know this was proposed as an element of the State fiscal year budget. Providers administer the bulk of their childhood vaccines in July/August as part of back-to-school preparations, so OPH wanted providers to be aware of this proposed program restructuring in advance.
It is important to note that a final budget for the upcoming State Fiscal Year, which begins July 1, 2013, will not be determined until the Legislative Session that begins April 8. Until the Legislature passes a final operating budget for SFY14, exact details of the elements involved will not be discernible."