Sunday, May 31

UCLA researchers say coverage of pharmacy vaccines could curb disease spread

California’s adult vaccination rates are far lower than federal recommendations, according to a study by UCLA researchers. (Daily Bruin file photo)

UCLA researchers found that requiring health insurers to cover adult vaccinations at pharmacies could prevent unnecessary deaths from diseases such as influenza, pneumonia and HPV, according to a study published Thursday.

Despite California’s efforts to expand health care, its adult vaccination rates are far lower than the federally recommended level, according to the study. California’s flu vaccination rate is 31 percentage points below the recommended 70 percent, its completed HPV vaccination rate for young women is about 60 percentage points lower than the recommended 80 percent and pneumococcal vaccination rate for people 65 and older is 18 percentage points lower than the recommended 90 percent rate.

Low vaccination rates in California may be the result of confusing vaccination insurance policies, which make it difficult for adults to find where vaccines are available, according to the study.

Furthermore, some insurance companies do not cover vaccines at local pharmacies and only cover those administered in doctors’ offices, which do not always maintain the full range of recommended vaccines. If patients want to be vaccinated, they are forced to switch to a new provider. Otherwise, patients may remain unvaccinated.

The authors of the study said they think the California Legislature should require public and commercial insurance plans to cover pharmacy-administered vaccines. This could eliminate any upfront costs of vaccines at pharmacies and make vaccines easily accessible.

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