I don't ask you, my readers, for much. Nothing at all, really. I'm happy to share and give away everything I learn.
But I ask now. Not for a favor, but for you to do something to benefit yourselves and the children you serve. Please take 2 minutes of your day, before the 4th of July, to contact your House representatives to let them know how important the Strengthening the Vaccines for Children Program Act is to the health of children in this country. Do it right now, there's nothing to it.
If you are willing to dive right in and get it done, follow these steps:
- Log into https://federaladvocacy.aap.org. <--- just click right there!
- At the top of the page, look for "Support the Strengthening the Vaccines for Children Program Act."
- Click on the "TAKE ACTION" button. The AAP will then identify your Congressional rep and write your letter. Click on "SEND" and you are done.
That's it. That's all I ask. Below, I'll provide more details for those who wish. Please, communicate to your government that children and those who serve them are important.
What is this legislation?
It's...shocking, to be honest. It's a bipartisan bill, with real support, designed to make significant improvements to the VFC vaccine program. These improvements include:
- Providing incentive payments up to $10,000 for VFC participation over two years to cover costs like purchasing separate fridges or hosting parking lot vaccine clinics.
- Raising Medicaid vaccine administration payment to Medicare levels for two years and gives states an increased federal match to cover these costs.
- Extending eligibility to children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, streamlining program administration.
- Ensuring Medicaid can pay appropriately for administration and counseling of modern, multicomponent vaccines.
- Allowing children to receive VFC vaccines in their medical home.
- Requiring new CDC reporting to identify disparities and pockets of low vaccination rates.
I'll say here what may be too subtle for some: the positive financial impact of this bill on those who take care of our most vulnerable children takes my breath away. To get paid Medicare rates on multicomponent vaccines for VFC vaccines would be the most important payment change in pediatrics since the creation of the multicomponent vaccines in the first place. We're talking tens of thousands of dollars per physician for those who take Medicaid. Budget dust for everyone else, lifesaving manna for pediatric practices on the edge of viability.
There is more to the bill, of course. You can read it all in its glory here.
What else can I do?
- TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS.
- Please don't forget to do this by July 4th. The timing of this messaging is important.
- If you have even the mildest relationship with your congressperson, adjust the letter on the AAP site (and included below) to personalize it.
- You can personalize the letter that the AAP prepares for you automatically right inside their application. It's easy!
- If your office location is in a different district than your home, send a message to both representatives.
- If you prefer to email directly from your own account - which is awesome! - you can find your representative's contact info by going here and providing your zip code. You might get an email address, you might get a form to complete, but the entire thing takes maybe a minute!
If you're stuck on what to say, try these words shared by the AAP:
Subject: Support the Strengthening the Vaccines for Children Program Act
Dear [[Recipient's Title and Name]]:
As a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I am urging you to co-sponsor the bipartisan
Strengthening the Vaccines for Children Program Act.
This bill would strengthen the vaccine delivery system for children at a critical time.
Childhood immunization rates have fallen drastically during the pandemic, leaving
communities at risk for a secondary outbreak of an infectious disease. It is also imperative
that children are caught up on their recommended vaccinations so that schools can open safely.
Additionally, pediatric visits are down overall, which can result in missed opportunities
for preventive counseling, to identify mental health concerns, and to diagnose conditions
that can respond to intervention.
This bill would strengthen and modernize the Vaccines for Children program, which
provides vaccines for half of all American children. It would make long-term improvements
to the program and build surge capacity so that pediatricians can effectively provide
children with needed vaccinations.
Please consider co-sponsoring the Strengthening the Vaccines for Children Program Act
to protect children and their communities from preventable illness during the pandemic
Thank you for all you do for children.