August 5, 2004

No Cost Childhood Immunizations Available at NEMO Family Health Clinic

Janice Pirner, LPN, CPUR, Member Services Manager for the Missouri Primary Care Association (MPCA) announced the Northeast Missouri Family Health Clinic, a Federally Qualified Community Health Center (FQHC) clinic, located in Memphis, has completed the State of Missouris Vaccination for Children (VFC) program enrollment procedure.

The VFC program provides no-cost immunizations at FQHC clinics to children from birth to age 18, who dont have health insurance, or who are Medicaid recipients, Native Americans, or Alaskan Natives. Children whose health insurance does not cover immunizations are also eligible to receive VFC vaccines. Additionally, Sliding Fee discounts may be available to help uninsured or underinsured patients pay for office visit costs.

The MPCA was awarded a contract from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, in 2002, to assist Missouri FQHC clinics, including the Northeast Missouri Family Health Clinic in Memphis, to enroll in the VFC program. Enrolling a clinic in the VFC immunization program is just the first step, stated Pirner. Once a clinic has completed the necessary enrollment procedures, clinic personnel and MPCA representatives monitor the program in order to assure guideline compliance.

The current average immunization rate for Missouri is 78%, Pirner continued. However, the VFC program has helped some Missouri FQHC clinics achieve immunization rates of 90% and above. The Northeast Missouri Family Health Clinics participation in the VFC program is very good news for parents with young children and for communities throughout the Scotland County region.

Dr. Jeffrey Davis, who provides family healthcare services at the Northeast Missouri Family Health Clinic in Memphis, said that disease prevention is important to overall public health. It is always better to prevent disease than to treat it, he stated. Vaccines help prevent disease in the people who receive them and protects them if they come into contact with unvaccinated individuals. Vaccine-preventable diseases can also have a financial impact on those who have not been immunized, including doctor visits, lost work time for parents, and even hospitalizations.

Dr. Davis said it is a great honor for him and the clinics staff to have successfully completed the VFC enrollment process. Our participation in this outstanding program exemplifies our clinics dedication, and the Health Councils commitment to immunizing children in our area, he continued. However, providing vaccines to children isnt the only benefit offered by this program. Educating parents about the importance of childhood immunizations is another key component. For example, children should receive 80 percent of all needed vaccines by age two, because children in this age group are most vulnerable to contracting vaccine-preventable diseases.

Jami Burlingame, RN, BC, FNP, certified family nurse practitioner, who also provides healthcare services at the clinic with Dr. Davis said the VFC program greatly compliments the clinics existing childrens health services. Our Well Baby and Well Child physical exams can be an effective way for parents to evaluate and monitor their childrens overall health, Burlingame stated. Having VFC immunization information in the patients chart, with all the rest of their vital health information, will help us to provide better healthcare services to those patients in the future. Burlingame also reminds parents that proof of immunization is required to enroll children in school. Having VFC immunizations available in our clinic is definitely a win-win program for families and for our communities, she concluded.

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