October 9, 2008
State Grant Boosts Health Net’s Efforts to Improve Childhood Immunization Rates
One of the keys to improving the health of youngsters is moving their immunization histories from paper-based formats to secure online systems accessible to doctors anywhere. To help maintain momentum in this effort, the State of California has renewed a grant allowing Health Net of California, Inc. to continue strengthening one of the nation's largest online immunization registries.
"Our goal is to ensure that no child ever suffers from a disease or condition that's preventable by a vaccine," said Elaine Robinson-Frank, director of Quality Improvement for Health Net. "We believe that our effort, which started in 2005, is successfully educating high-volume immunization providers about the online availability of immunization histories, which helps them deliver a positive impact on children's lives by preventing serious, and potentially deadly, childhood diseases."
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Health Net partners with the Los Angeles-Orange Immunization Network (LINK) in its efforts to increase health care providers' knowledge of, and participation in, the immunization registry, giving providers the ability to quickly review a youngster's complete immunization history and automatically identify which shots are due at each doctor's visit - based on the most up-to-date national recommendations.
"The grant helps us assist health care providers in both the public and private sectors track their patients' immunizations and ensure they're administered at the right time," said Robyn Davis, regional manager of LINK. "The registry also is used by schools and daycare services to determine if a child has had the appropriate immunizations to enroll."
LINK is part of the California Immunization Registry (CAIR), which aims to improve the immunization rates for all California children. The multiyear, $168,000 grant comes from the immunization branch of the California Department of Public Health.
Tips on Childhood Immunizations
Health Net reminds parents to give their children a dose of protection to help them live healthier, happier lives by preventing diseases than can result in doctor visits, hospitalizations - even premature death.
The below tips, which are approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians, will help parents get their children up to speed on vaccinations. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current vaccines are the safest and most effective in history, and serious reactions are rare. However, as with any medical treatment, anyone considering a vaccine should consult with his/her doctor first to discuss potential benefits and risks. The tips do not constitute medical advice.
-- Infants need shots at birth and at 2, 4, 6, 12, 15 and 18 months - The basic series of recommended immunizations includes DTaP (for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), polio, MMR (for measles, mumps and rubella), haemophilus influenza (for meningitis), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, pneumococcal (for pneumonia), rotavirus (for gastroenteritis) and varicella (for chicken pox). These same immunizations also are recommended for children ages 4 to 6 and 11 to 12.
-- Varicella vaccine - All daycare, Head Start and kindergarten entrants must have received the varicella vaccine for chicken pox. Exceptions apply for personal beliefs and medical reasons.
-- Hepatitis A and B vaccines - Children in California are recommended to have hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines. All children entering the seventh grade in California are required to have started receiving the hepatitis B series. Exceptions apply for personal beliefs and medical reasons.
-- Meningococcal vaccine - To help prevent meningococcal meningitis, it is recommended that children 11 and older receive the menactra vaccine.
-- Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine - It is recommended to administer the three-dose HPV vaccine to females beginning at age 11.
-- "Catch-up" shots - It is a good idea to re-evaluate your children's immunization schedule when they turn 13. Work with your doctor or public health clinic to set up a schedule so your children can "catch-up" on any recommended immunizations. It's easy to get back on track.
-- Free or low-cost immunizations - If you do not have a doctor, low-cost or free immunizations are administered at your local county health department.
About Health Net
Health Net of California, Inc., a subsidiary of Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT), is one of the largest health plans in the state. Together with Health Net Life Insurance Company, it serves nearly 2.3 million members statewide, and contracts with more than 56,000 physicians, 300-plus hospitals and nearly 5,000 pharmacies, giving its members greater choice and more convenient access to care. Its commercial HMO and POS lines of business and its Medicare line of business have received the "excellent" accreditation status from the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and its Medicaid line of business has received the "Commendable" accreditation status. For more information about Health Net, visit its Web site at www.healthnet.com.
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