Pediatricians Raise Concerns About Childhood Immunization Cost

The New York Times on Saturday examined the “soaring cost and rising number of new vaccines” for children, a problem that pediatricians maintain will “make it increasingly difficult … to buy the shots they give their patients.” The cost of childhood immunization has increased since 1980, when children could receive the seven injections and four oral doses required at a cost of $23, or $59 adjusted for inflation, according to Thomas Saari of the University of Wisconsin. Childhood immunization today requires 37 injections and 3 oral doses at a cost of more than $1,600, Saari said. According to public health experts, the cost of childhood immunization has become a problem for pediatricians, and the issue could “lead to a breakdown in the nation’s immunization program” and increased incidences of preventable diseases, the Times reports. The advance purchase of vaccines “could be considered a good investment” for pediatricians, “especially since vaccinations bring in children who can then be provided other services,” but health insurers often do not provide adequate reimbursements for vaccines, the Times reports. In response, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association last month held a meeting in Chicago to discuss the issue. Dorothy Levine, a pediatrician, said, “We cannot pay for the vaccination of the American public any longer. We’re not giving them with as much vigor as we should, and the main reason is financial.” Gary Freed, chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, asked, “Do we want to wait until we have epidemics before we want to do something about the financing questions?”

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