Changes to rules for Health Dept vaccines

Changes at the Federal level will soon affect the Vaccines For Children (VFC) Immunization Program. Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has notified local health departments that after October 15, 2012, they will not be able to give publicly funded VFC vaccine to clients that have private insurance. These clients will have to be referred to their private providers.

“While it has always been preferred that those with insurance utilize their own providers, health departments have had authority from ADHS to vaccinate those with private insurance,” said Diana Grazier, La Paz County Director of Nursing, “and that is what we have done, but now we are being directed to refer them starting October 15th. It is important to note that this only affects those with private insurance. There will be no changes from the four major categories that comprise most of our health department’s clientele.”

The categories that the Health Department can provide vaccines for are:

  • No insurance
  • Native American
  • Underinsured.

There has been confusion in the past as to what the term “underinsured” means. According to a recent memo from ADHS, the definition of underinsured is, “a person who has health insurance but the coverage does not include vaccines, or a person whose insurance covers only selected vaccines. . . Children who are underinsured for selected vaccines are VFC-eligible for the non-covered vaccines only. . . Children with deductibles and co-pays are considered insured, and not underinsured. . . .”

“We want to make the public aware of this change in advance,” states Marion Shontz, La Paz County Health Director. “We have no desire to refer anyone elsewhere, and we are very sensitive to the fact that this could be an inconvenience for some people, but we do need to follow VFC guidelines when administering their vaccine.”

For more information on the Vaccines for Children program, visit