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03/22/2010

A Pox on Both Your Houses!

©2009 alvi2047 I had the chicken pox in first grade. I had a very mild but itchy case and was blessed to escape with no scarring. I have a vague recollection of pot holders on my hands but I may be confusing that with a sitcom. It's hard to tell. These thoughts have been brought to the forefront of my memory center with all the talk of Ohio making changes to keep up with the Federal guidelines for immunizations.

Children entering kindergarten and seventh grade are now need more shots. A second dose of the chicken pox vaccine will be required for your cute little five year old in addition to a final dose of the polio vaccine. Your moody seventh grader now needs a combined tetanus/diptheria booster or one that also protects against whooping cough.

All of these changes are hitting right around the time that parents are busy registering their children for kindergarten. In fact, a local school district registered their students the week before these changes were announced. I am curious as to how parents will then deal with the changes: will they be informed by mail? With how much time? Now? A week before school? The time issue is an important one and here's why...

Vaccines are expensive.

No, this isn't your normal argument about vaccinations. I'm not going to discuss the pros and cons of vaccinating your children. There are countless blogs and websites that talk about those issues and this isn't one of them. Instead, I'm going to rant about the cost. And I will use my family as an example.

Awhile ago, we chose not to give a vaccine at an appointment in which we had been planning to do so because of a fever presented by my son. My doctor supported this decision. We planned to hit it on his next yearly appointment as it wasn't a big deal. A few weeks later, I received a card in the mail from my insurance company informing me that we had missed a "suggested immunization" and ever-so-subtly suggested that I get my neglectful butt to the doctor with my child in tow and do my parental duty. I laughed and trashed it. Eventually, my son did get the vaccine in question.

And the insurance company refused to pay for it.

Boggle with me for a minute. They spent money on a cute little printed card with a baby's face and various colors of printed ink. They spent money and time on finding out that my child missed a vaccination. They spent money and time on printing my address. They spent money and time on the shipping of the card in question. But they won't pay for the shot itself? Then why bother with all that money? Why waste more money?

(But, no, we don't need healthcare reform. That's probably a post for another day though.)

Thankfully we were able to pay the bill. Not all parents are able to do so, in this failing economy or otherwise. In fact, some doctors are refusing to even offer the chicken pox vaccine, which runs them $115, but those insurers that do cover it are only paying $68. While state health departments often offer reduced cost or free vaccines, many families with two working parents don't have time to sit and wait in a line on the scheduled immunization day.

I tell you this story so that parents with soon-to-be kindergarteners and/or seventh graders can call their school districts, ask the appropriate questions as to whether these shots are required this year and then call their doctor, medical insurance provider and/or health department to get the timing and money figured out ahead of time. Waiting until the last minute in August will only cause stress of both the time and wallet crunch variety.

(While this post isn't an anti-vaccine post, always remember that in the state of Ohio you have the ability to choose not to vaccinate on the basis of medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Exemption forms exist for school registration.)

This has been an original Ohio Mom's Blog post.

Photo Credit.

Jenna Hatfield is a freelance writer and part-time photographer living in small town Ohio. She maintains two personal blogs, Stop, Drop & Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She also contributes to a wide variety of other sites when she's not arguing with insurance companies.

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