Insured Kids Having Trouble Getting Flu Shots

Shots for Medicaid patients can't be used on patients with private insurance

By Ben Russell
|  Thursday, Jan 17, 2013  |  Updated 12:05 AM CDT
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Some facilities have had to turn away children with insurance even though they have shots available for Medicaid patients.

Ben Russell, NBC 5 News

Some facilities have had to turn away children with insurance even though they have shots available for Medicaid patients.

A legal concern and a rush for pediatric flu shots are preventing some North Texas children from receiving the vaccine.

While doctors may have doses for children covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, they cannot be used on patients whose parents have private health insurance.

Dr. Theresa Erwin, a pediatrician at Nuby Pediatrics in Denton, said her facility has had to deny patients with private insurance in recent days even though it has an abundance of the flu shots intended for Medicaid patients.

Erwin pre-orders flu shots for patients with health insurance directly from the supplier, knowing that the patients' insurance company will reimburse her.

But the government supplies vaccines for children who have no health insurance or whose insurance is paid for by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program. There is a strict accounting process for those shots -- which can't even be kept on the same side of the storage refrigerator as the doses for people with private insurance.

"We are not allowed to take doses from one side and use it for the other side," she said. "Doing so could actually get us in a tremendous amount of trouble with the government."

County health departments are not able to pick up any slack. Tarrant and Dallas counties received new shipments of shots on Wednesday, but they must be distributed to uninsured patients.

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