May 27, 2014
OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Jennie Melendez -
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.”
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.
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
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.