Despite the availability of vaccines through Medicaid and the Vaccines for Children program, immunization rates for children and pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid remain lower than the rates for those with higher incomes or who are privately insured. In particular, disparities in vaccine coverage exist for African-American children and those living in poverty. Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective public health interventions in history. To date, routine vaccination among children have averted an estimated 322 million illnesses and 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 premature deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses avoided. About half of pregnant women in the US are covered by Medicaid. Yet data show that women on Medicaid do not receive recommended immunizations at the same rate as women on private insurance, with differences in coverage rates ranging from 14.3% for Medicaid and 45.5% for privately insured.
With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AcademyHealth in collaboration with the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) and Immunize Colorado (IC), aim to enhance collaborative immunization efforts across Medicaid, Public Health agencies and Immunization Information Systems (IIS) divisions and improve immunization rates for children and pregnant women with Medicaid coverage. Through the formation of a Community of Practice (CoP), this project provides technical assistance to six states, Louisiana, Michigan, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, each having formed a multidisciplinary team with Medicaid, public health, and Immunization Information System (IIS) representation, and identified specific immunization goals to achieve over the project’s three-year span. In addition, our original CoP states, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico, will continue to participate in this work.
Through close engagement with the CoP, we identify barriers to and share promising practices for increasing immunization rates for children and pregnant women with Medicaid coverage. Throughout the project, AcademyHealth and NASHP leverage their state policymaker members, including AcademyHealth’s MMDN, to disseminate lessons and best practices in real time to achieve wider outreach and impact. Each year, we convene state officials and subject matter experts to discuss several evidence-based interventions and review several recommendations to increase immunization rates among Medicaid beneficiaries.