Cuomo pushing budget amendment to allow flu vaccines for children, regardless of ability to pay
In response record number of flu cases and hospitalizations in each of last 3 weeks
Press Release, Gov. Cuomo’s Office
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he is advancing a 30-day budget amendment to encourage pharmacies to enroll in the New York State Vaccines for Children Program, which provides vaccines to children and individuals regardless of their ability to pay.
The legislation would codify the executive order temporarily allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children ages 2 to 18. The legislation, which increases convenience and vaccine accessibility for New Yorkers, would permanently suspend the section of state education law that limits the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents to anyone under age 18.
“As flu diagnoses continue to grow, we must do everything we can to ensure all New Yorkers have access to the flu vaccine to protect them now and in the future,” Governor Cuomo said. “I urge all New Yorkers to protect themselves and their families, get a flu shot and join us in stamping out the spread of this dangerous virus.”
Since the governor signed the executive order on January 25, 2018, more than 6,300 New Yorkers ages 2 to 18 have been vaccinated at pharmacies. The legislation encourages vaccination and helps protect children who are traditionally among the populations most vulnerable to influenza.
There have been four pediatric influenza deaths this flu season, with a fifth pediatric death currently under investigation, and 8,317 children under the age of five have been diagnosed with lab confirmed influenza and 731 have been hospitalized. Parents and guardians with children between the ages of 6 months and 24 months are still encouraged to see their primary care provider for the vaccination.
Additionally, to support the increasing demand for pediatric vaccinations as a result of the executive order and to ensure cost of the shot is not a barrier to getting vaccinated, the governor called on individual physicians to enroll in The New York State Vaccines for Children Program. This is a federally-funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children that are eligible.
A child is eligible for a Vaccines for Children Program vaccine if he or she is younger than 19 years of age and meets any of the following criteria:
• Uninsured (do not have health insurance),
• Underinsured (have commercial health insurance but the insurance does not cover the flu vaccine, or the insurance caps coverage at a certain amount or number of visits),
• Native American or Alaska Native,
• Medicaid-enrolled or Medicaid-eligible, or
• Enrolled in Child Health Plus.