Free Vaccine Not to Be Wasted, Official Says
The Clinton Administration will not buy any more childhood vaccines than it can use under an expanded program of free shots for the poor and children without private health coverage, an official said Monday.
“We aren’t going to waste any money and we aren’t going to waste any vaccine,” said Avis LaVelle, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.
She was responding to a New York Times report about complaints by some lawmakers and vaccine manufacturers about the way the Administration was implementing the new immunization initiative Congress approved last year.
She said the government was still negotiating with pharmaceutical companies over how much vaccine it will buy.
President Clinton last year accused vaccine companies of profiteering at the expense of children and proposed to buy enough vaccine to immunize all children, regardless of family income.
Congress balked at that, but agreed to spend $460 million on free vaccines, including shots for measles, polio and diphtheria, for poor children who are on Medicaid, uninsured or Native Americans.
In addition, children whose private insurance does not pay for shots could get free vaccines by coming to community health centers or other federally qualified clinics.
The Administration had considered “deputizing” private doctors so they could get free vaccines for shots given in their offices, but that now has been ruled out.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, part of the HHS, for years has made bulk vaccine purchases to provide free vaccines to states for needy children. Some states manufacture their own vaccines and make their own bulk purchases.