Higher Doctor Fees Cuts Flu Shots to Poor

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Oct. 18 (UPI) — The number of poor U.S. children who get vaccinated for influenza is linked to how much physicians are paid to administer influenza shots, researchers say.

Dr. Byung-Kwang Yoo of the University of Rochester Medical Center and colleagues analyzed state-by-state vaccination data from the National Immunization Survey for the 2005-2006, 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 influenza seasons that included socio-economic data for families.

The study, published online ahead of print in the journal Pediatrics, finds the number of poor children receiving the annual flu shot could be increased by up to 1 percentage point for every additional dollar provided to doctors to administer the vaccine. Children in families below the federal poverty level have the lowest vaccination rates.

“There is a strong correlation between flu vaccination and Medicaid reimbursement rates,” the researchers say in a statement. “Improving reimbursement rates could improve vaccine coverage among poor children.”

Vaccines for children under Medicaid are paid for by the government, but reimbursement rates provided to doctors for administering the vaccine, varied by states, but ranged from $2 in Colorado, Connecticut and Hawaii to almost $18 in New York, with the average reimbursement $9.

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