Health department postpones changes

PLYMOUTH — For several months now, residents of Marshall County have been aware that beginning July 1, insured individuals (including children) will no longer be vaccinated by their local health department. This guideline was to bring local health departments into compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirements. On June 30, the day before the change was to go into effect, the Marshall County Health Department received notification that the changes would be postponed until January 2012.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said health department nurse Susan Lechlitner Friday morning.
Lechlitner said that the health department has turned away many people who have called about receiving vaccinations in the past few weeks because they did not qualify under the new requirements. Now, at least until January, things will go back to the way they were—any individual can be vaccinated at the health department, even if they do have other insurance.
“In many counties, local health departments are the primary provider of all immunizations regardless of an individual’s insurance status,” said the statement from Indiana State health commissioner Gregory Larkin Thursday. “With the delay, the summer back to school immunization push for children to meet school entry requirements will not be interrupted.”
“I think a lot of people will be relieved,” said Lechlitner of the postponement. She added that she had spoken with one woman whose insurance deductible was $2,500—for each person in her family. Under the new guidelines, the health department would not be able to vaccinate her family because they do have insurance—but the family would be hard pressed to meet their deductible at the doctor’s office. Lechlitner said that she believes many people face similar situations.
“It’s nice that we can (vaccinate) again, I think people really need help,” said Lechlitner.
The sudden change “at the eleventh hour,” as Lechlitner put it, did put a strain on the department.
“It’s stressful for all the health departments,” said Lechlitner. “It’s a stressful time.”