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Hassan, Cassidy reintroduce bills to increase vaccination rates for expectant mothers

By Staff | Apr 15, 2021

FILE - This Saturday, March 6, 2021 file photo shows vials of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the pharmacy of National Jewish Hospital for distribution in east Denver. The European Medicines Agency is meeting Thursday March 11, 2021, to discuss whether Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine should be authorized, a move that would give the European Union a fourth licensed vaccine to try to curb the pandemic amid a stalled inoculation drive. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) reintroduced two bipartisan bills to increase maternal vaccination rates and ensure that these vaccines are free of cost for Medicaid enrollees. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that pregnant patients receive a flu shot, as well as the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, which helps prevent whooping cough in newborns and infants.

“It is critical that pregnant women are able to receive vaccines that protect their own health and the health of their babies, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Senator Hassan. “These bipartisan bills would take commonsense steps to increase maternal vaccination rates, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Cassidy to build support for them.”

“As a doctor who worked in Louisiana’s charity hospital system, we provided vaccinations to children in Baton Rouge at no cost because they saved lives and boosted the community’s health,” said Dr. Cassidy. “These bills removes barriers to immunization that improve the health of expectant mothers and their unborn child.”

Many women – especially those covered by Medicaid – do not receive their recommended vaccines. A CDC survey found that only about half of pregnant patients received the flu and Tdap vaccines in 2017-2018. Another study found that in 2017, only 31.4 percent of pregnant Medicaid enrollees received the Tdap vaccine, and only 17.5 percent of pregnant Medicaid enrollees received the flu vaccine.

The Maternal Immunization Coverage Act, introduced by Senator Cassidy and co-led by Senator Hassan, would require that state Medicaid programs cover ACIP-recommended vaccines for pregnant Medicaid enrollees without cost-sharing. To read the bill text, click here.

The Maternal Immunization Enhancement Act, introduced by Senator Hassan and co-led by Senator Cassidy, aims to increase rates of ACIP-recommended vaccines among pregnant Medicaid enrollees by directing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to issue guidance to states on how they can improve immunization rates among pregnant Medicaid enrollees and by improving data collection efforts on vaccination rates of pregnant Medicaid enrollees.

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