News Release  

May 27, 2014 

OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Jennie Melendez - (405) 522-7404 

State Selects Bryan County for Pilot Childhood Immunizations Project

Bryan County will soon get a boost in its efforts to protect the health of children. Through joint, targeted outreach, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) aim to help increase the number of children receiving the complete 15-shot immunization series (4:3:1:3:3:1) in Bryan County. This new initiative will promote and track immunizations for babies and toddlers age 19 to 35 months from June 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014. 

According to data from the Oklahoma State Immunization Information System (OSIIS), Bryan County was ranked among 10 Oklahoma counties with the lowest completion rates for this immunization series in 2013. These immunizations help protect communities from diseases including whooping cough, chickenpox and polio - particularly among our youngest, most vulnerable citizens. According to the OSDH, only 74 percent of Bryan County children 19 through 35 months of age received their complete set of primary vaccines in 2013. This is below the national Healthy People 2020 (HealthyPeople.gov) immunization target of 80 percent. 

“We are extremely excited to be a part of this unique, collaborative effort with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority in our efforts to improve immunization rates in Bryan County,” said Pat Fowler, administrative director of the Bryan County Health Department. “There are numerous options for parents to take advantage of regarding immunization services in the county and we want to make sure that they are aware of those options.”  

Immunization prevents an estimated 2-3 million deaths worldwide each year, yet OSDH says 1 in 3 children in Oklahoma do not receive all of the recommended vaccines by age 2. Health care professionals recommend that caregivers protect children from such vaccine-preventable illnesses starting at birth. Children who aren’t vaccinated pose a potential danger to their entire community. Even if those around them have been vaccinated, there is still a risk of exposure – no vaccine is 100 percent effective. As a result, outbreaks can lead not only to illness but to lifelong disabilities (e.g. permanent brain damage) and death.  

The OHCA/OSDH immunization initiative is a multifaceted approach to public health education and quality improvement. Outreach strategies will focus on SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) members, caretakers, and health care providers. The initiative will address common barriers to immunization, ranging from scheduling conflicts for parents and fear of vaccine side effects to a child being sick at appointment time. Distributing educational materials, targeted provider education and other intervention strategies will be utilized over the course of this pilot project. 

 

Immunize today! 

Infants and children covered by SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) can receive life-saving immunizations for FREE as part of their benefit package. In addition, SoonerRide is available to help with transportation for these scheduled appointments. SoonerCare members can find more details by visiting www.okhca.org or contacting the SoonerCare Helpline at 800-987-7767.  

Parents with children not covered under SoonerCare can receive immunizations through private health insurance or the Bryan County Health Department. The Bryan County Health Department offers free immunizations to eligible children through the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program (http://imm.health.ok.gov). All county health departments and many private doctors in Oklahoma participate in the VFC program. 

For those who worry about the safety of immunizations, please contact your health care provider to get the facts. Delaying or withholding vaccinations can have grave consequences. Please call the Bryan County Health Department at 580-924-4285 to learn more. 

 

Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, known as SoonerCare, is administered by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA). SoonerCare works to improve the health outcomes of Oklahomans by ensuring that medically necessary benefits and services are responsive to the health care needs of our members. Qualifying Oklahomans include certain low-income children, seniors, the disabled, those being treated for breast or cervical cancer and those seeking family planning services. Insure Oklahoma assists qualifying adults and small business employees in obtaining health care coverage for themselves and their families. OHCA strives to educate and engage our current 808,406 members regarding personal responsibilities for their health services utilization, behaviors, and outcomes in partnership with a state-wide network of 38,998 providers. For more information, visit www.okhca.org.