As you are probably well-aware, we have two very different federal vaccine funding sources, Vaccines for Children (VFC) and 317. As the cost of vaccinating the pediatric population increases, VFC, an entitlement, keeps up with the cost. For a number of years, 317 funds have not kept up with the vaccine costs. The Oregon Immunization Program (OIP) has been advised by CDC that Section 317 funds will continue to decline.
Under-insured children can be vaccinated with VFC vaccine, but only in a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Rural Health Clinic (RHC), or a public clinic that has been sub-designated as an FQHC for immunization purposes only. OIP has counteracted the 317 funds drop by ensuring that 317 vaccine is no longer used for under-insured children by facilitating a number of sub-designation agreements around the state on an individual local health department (LHDs) basis.
While OIP made progress with several LHDs entering into agreements with local FQHCs and RHCs, it wasn’t happening as quickly as we would have liked. In the fall of 2011, John Combs, Grant County Health Office administrator, agreed to enter into a multi-LHD sub-designation agreement. As an RHC, Grant is able to sub-designate.
OIP approached 16 LHDs, offering to facilitate an agreement with Grant. Thirteen entered into an agreement with Grant and three opted to do so with local FQHCs. More sub-designated LHDs means more VFC vaccine used for under-insured children, thereby making Oregon less reliant on the waning 317 supply. This also means public clinics are able to use more 317-funded vaccine for people who can’t be vaccinated with any other vaccine.
OIP extends a very big Thank You to John Combs at Grant County Health Office and to all the newly sub-designated LHDs. Every Oregon LHD is now able to vaccinate under-insured kids with VFC vaccine.