High cost of life-saving childrens vaccine may be keeping some doctors from giving it

ANN ARBOR, MI The high cost of the life-saving Prevnar vaccine for young children is affecting how doctors choose to provide it, and causing some to steer parents to public vaccination clinics, a new University of Michigan-led study finds.

While the vast majority of nearly 700 children's doctors surveyed in the study are recommending the vaccine, which protects against bacterial meningitis and other diseases, almost one in three harbors concerns about the cost -- especially if many children they see don't have insurance that covers their shots.

The results are published in the September issue of Pediatrics by researchers at the U-M Health System and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings have immediate implications for the parents of today's toddlers, who may learn they have to pay out of pocket or travel to another location to get the $260, four-shot series that's recommended for all children under age 2 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both options are sizable obstacles for many families, and may mean some children don't get vaccinated.

The study results may also foreshadow further problems and "fragmentation" of vaccination practices as other pricey but effective children's vaccines come on the market, says lead author Matthew M. Davis, M.D., MAPP, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the U-M Medical School. Davis is a member of the U-M's Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit, which has a CDC grant to study vaccine issues.

"Vaccines are some of the most cost-effective tools that we have for protecting children's health," Davis emphasizes. "Historically, they have been inexpensive and physicians have been willing to absorb the cost of stocking them or even providing them to underinsured patients. But the cost of Prevnar is eroding physicians' efforts to provide it in their clinics. And in general, vaccines are becoming more like other medications on the market -- ones that ar

Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System

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