LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT)  – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced several new strategies Thursday to increase access to the influenza vaccine during flu season. The changes make it easier for Medicaid beneficiaries to get flu vaccines.

To increase access to vaccines and promote an increase in overall immunization rates among Medicaid beneficiaries, effective immediately, MDHHS is expanding access to influenza vaccines at pharmacies statewide for adults and children ages 3 and older. Medicaid coverage of influenza vaccines also is expanding to additional locations – such as COVID-19 testing sites, including drive-thru testing locations and mobile vans.

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Additionally, Medicaid-enrolled health care providers will receive increased reimbursement to cover costs associated with administering vaccines from October through December.

“Now more than ever it’s critically important to make it as easy as possible for residents to get their flu shots,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “With flu season coinciding with the possibility of a surge of COVID-19 cases, I encourage everyone to get the influenza vaccine as soon as they can.”

These initiatives add to existing measures taken by MDHHS to prevent and control vaccine-preventable diseases and to improve the overall health of Michigan residents.

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MDHHS identified a significant decrease in routine preventive well child visits and immunizations since the onset of COVID-19 as residents stay home to slow the spread of the virus. Disparities in vaccination coverage by Medicaid status continues for Medicaid-covered children. The decline in immunization rates will likely have a substantial impact on long-term health outcomes for children and adults across the state.

The MDHHS partnership with Medicaid health plans is also focused on comprehensive outreach initiatives to educate Medicaid enrollees on the importance of getting influenza vaccines, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some examples of innovative outreach being done by Medicaid Health Plans include:

  • Texting campaigns.
  • Use of social media to share influenza resources.
  • Interactive voice response telephonic campaigns.
  • Newsletters for members and clinical providers.
  • Targeted outreach to high-risk beneficiaries.
  • Educating caregivers and direct service workers about the importance of vaccines.
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