ADHS Announces Positive Changes to their Vaccines for Children Program!

ADHS is making several encouraging changes to their management & policies in Arizona’s Vaccines for Children program!

Leadership of the Immunizations Bureau will be changing (although that job announcement isn’t posted yet) and they’re actively recruiting a new Assistant Director that oversees the VFC program.  See: Assistant Director of Public  Health  Preparedness

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They’re also making substantial changes to their policies that partially resulted in more than half of VFC providers quitting the program after the last few years.

New CDC Report: Arizona Has Among the Lowest Childhood Immunization Rates in the U.S.

The Department ran a webinar last week entitled… “Making Improvements to the Vaccines for Children Program”. The webinar capped out at 100 participants – highlighting the interest among providers who were looking for more info about the planned changes to VFC.

You can see the recording on “Making Improvements to the Vaccines for Children Program” or use this URL.

Among the important promises made on the webinar was the removal of the Department’s former punitive restitution policy which threatened and sometimes fined practices for discrepancies in their inventory – sometimes because of issues with the immunizations database run by the agency called ASIIS.

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The question-and-answer segment is currently being compiled and will soon be shared on their VFC webpage, along with the slides and the link to the webinar. You can submit additional ideas or queries to the VFC team by clicking on the link provided here.


Important Background

The Vaccines for Children Program makes sure kids whose parents can’t afford vaccines can still get their kids vaccinated. Funding for VFC comes via the CDC, who buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to states. States distribute them to physicians’ offices & clinics that take part in the VFC program. ADHS manages the VFC program in our state.

Arizona lost 50% of its VFC providers during the Ducey administration – going from 1,200 to 600… reducing access to vaccine, lowering childhood vaccination rates and harming overall AHCCCS network capacity. 

Maricopa County Department of Public Health contracted with The Arizona Partnership for Immunizations to study this issue and prepare a report describing the facilitators and challenges to participating in the VFC program from healthcare providers’ perspectives, as well as recommendations for reversing this course. TAPI hired OMNI Institute, a social sciences non-profit consultancy to conduct this assessment.

That report, entitled An Assessment of the Facilitators & Challenges Providing-Vaccine in Arizona was released in December 2023. The 96-page report has many findings. A common theme as presented in the Executive Summary:

“Respondents expressed frustration with the complexity surrounding ordering and returning vaccines, the challenges integrating practice electronic medical record systems with the Arizona State Immunization Information System and the administrative burdens regarding compliance and reconciliation.”

“When asked about the significant challenges/barriers to their continued participation in the VFC program, a common theme respondents raised was an adversarial tone in the enforcement of VFC policies and communications, with administrative errors (some of which stemmed from ASIIS) often being met with accusations of fraud and/or wastage. Many non-VFC providers pointed to administrative burdens, expensive charges to rectify incorrect dose counts, and a generally punitive tone from the VFC program as rationales for their non-participation.”

Read the Report

See also:

AZ Vaccine Congress Meets RE Plummeting Provider Participation in the Vaccines for Children Program

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