Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Pediatricians Applaud Signing of Childhood Vaccine Bill

Contacts:

Richard Gulla, MMS
(781) 434-7101
rgulla@mms.org

Cathleen Haggerty, Mass. AAP
(781) 895-9852
chaggerty@mcaap.org

Cynthia McReynolds, Mass. Immunization Initiative
(781) 895-9850
cmcreynolds@mcaap.org 
 
Waltham, Mass. – Feb. 13, 2014 – The Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics today released a joint statement from their respective presidents praising the signing of an Act Establishing the Massachusetts Childhood Vaccine Program, a comprehensive public health initiative to enhance childhood immunization in the Commonwealth.  

The bill, proposed by Senator Richard Moore of Uxbridge, had been a long-standing priority of both organizations, which had worked closely together to push for its passage. Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on Wednesday.  

In a joint statement, Ronald Dunlap, M.D., president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and John O’Reilly, M.D., president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “The creation of the Childhood Vaccine Program demonstrates a critical investment in the future health of the children of the Commonwealth. This law now puts all recommended vaccines within reach of all children in the Commonwealth and recognizes that immunization is a public health priority as well as a person health issue. We applaud our lawmakers for their renewed commitment to health prevention for our children.” 

The physicians added that such a law becomes increasingly important as more states are granting medical and philosophical exemptions from childhood vaccinations and as vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough are returning with disturbing frequency across the country.  

The new law guarantees access to all recommended vaccines for children in the Commonwealth and establishes two key programs: a Vaccine Purchase Trust Fund and the Massachusetts Immunization Registry. 

The Vaccine Purchase Trust Fund will pay for the distribution of all nationally recommended childhood vaccines to all children in the state through a public-private collaboration. The law charges an assessment on Massachusetts insurers for the cost of all vaccines for the children covered in their plans. The vaccines can then be purchased through the Department of Public Health at reduced rates under the department’s federal contract. This financing system has been implemented for the last three years, saving the state nearly $50 million in 2013. The law makes this financing mechanism permanent, thus ensuring that no state funds would be used to finance the vaccine program.   

The law also provides funding for the Massachusetts Immunization Registry, a statewide repository of all immunizations that can interact with electronic health records. The Registry will help to ensure high immunization rates for children and adults,  generate savings by reducing waste associated with over-immunization, and will allow for the tracking of the approximately 3.5 million doses of vaccine distributed annually by the Department of Public Health. Massachusetts had been one of only three states in the country without a registry due to lack of funding.

The law puts the Commonwealth in the position of maintaining one of the highest childhood vaccination rates and the lowest rate of vaccine-preventable diseases in the country. 


About the Mass. Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

The members of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics are physicians dedicated to improving the quality of life for children by providing quality health care and advocating for them and their families.

About the Massachusetts Medical Society

The Massachusetts Medical Society, with more than 24,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society, under the auspices of NEJM Group, publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and NEJM Journal Watch alerts and publications covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education for health care professionals throughout Massachusetts, conducting a variety of medical education programs for physicians and health care professionals. Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country.
 
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