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Senator Hassan Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Vaccinations Among Pregnant Women

“This is super important and should have happened sooner” - Dr. Lindsay Admon, OB-GYN at the University of Michigan

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) in introducing two bipartisan bills to increase maternal vaccination rates and ensure that these vaccines are free of cost for Medicaid enrollees. The 19th – a news source that reports on gender and policy – covered the Senators’ bill and interviewed Dr. Lindsay Admon, OB-GYN at the University of Michigan, who said of the bills’ introduction: “This is super important and should have happened sooner.”


See below for excerpts from the article in the 19th:  


Many pregnant people aren’t getting flu shots, but these bills could help

By Shefali Luthra


Despite heightened risk of severe complications, pregnant people often don’t get flu shots or the TDAP vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. People insured by Medicaid — which covers almost half of all births in the country — are far less likely to get those shots compared to those on private insurance.


Two new pieces of bipartisan legislation are trying to address that by eliminating the cost-barriers that often keep pregnant people from getting necessary vaccinations.


The two bills, shared first with The 19th, are jointly backed by Sens. Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana. The first would require that Medicaid plans cover these vaccines during pregnancy without any out-of-pocket costs for patients, along with any other immunizations recommended by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The second bill would require the federal government to issue guidance to states about how to improve vaccination rates, and institute data collection procedures to better track Medicaid’s rates of perinatal vaccinations.


“Far too many pregnant women and their babies become seriously ill, and even die, from preventable illnesses. We must do more to ensure that they receive the health care that they need,” said Hassan.


Neither bill has any other sponsors. But both efforts would go a long way toward addressing shortfalls in pregnancy-related health. Right now, Medicaid benefits vary from state to state — not all cover flu shots and TDAP vaccines.


“This is super important and should have happened sooner,” said Dr. Lindsay Admon, an OB-GYN at the University of Michigan who researches pregnancy-related health care and outcomes.


Research shows that when people on Medicaid have to pay out-of-pocket for vaccines, they are far less likely to actually get those shots. That especially matters in pregnancy: Pregnant people who contract the flu are more likely to go to the hospital or die. The virus can affect fetuses, too, leading to neural tube defects and other adverse outcomes. Meanwhile, the TDAP vaccine is highly recommended for pregnant people to protect newborns from whooping cough, which can be particularly dangerous in infants.


[…] “For women who are uninsured before pregnancy, it’s going to be harder to get the flu vaccine, or if there’s a copayment that would prohibit uptake,” Admon said. “It could have devastating effects.”