With most Iowa kids heading back to school next week, it’s a very busy time for doctor’s offices and county health departments. Vaccines and boosters are being given by the thousands. Don Callaghan is program director of the Vaccines for Children Program in Iowa, a federally-funded effort to raise childhood immunization levels. Callaghan says the program supplies federally-purchased vaccine to children from birth-to-18-years at no cost to public and private health care providers throughout Iowa. Eligible children include: those enrolled in Medicaid, children who do not have health insurance and children who are American Indian or Alaskan Native. Also, children who have health insurance that does not cover the cost of vaccines are considered to be “underinsured” and are also eligible. The program was created by the passage of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. Callaghan says in 1994, only about 65-percent of Iowa children had received the proper vaccines and booster shots. He says a lot of work has gone into raising that number significantly in the past decade.In the public sector, he says Iowa’s now at 89-percent of kids vaccinated, with a goal of 90-percent. The Vaccines For Children program has more than 500 provider sites enrolled throughout the state and vaccinates 225,000 Iowa children a year.
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