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Ensuring health for all
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Ensuring health for all

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Several aspects of the Children and Adult Immunization Clinic have changed in recent years, including adding "adult" to the name of the clinic.

The clinic now operates by appointments, uses an electronic filing system and bills insurance for vaccinations.

Vaccinations are now paid for by insurance companies -- previously they were sponsored by the state. An administrative fee may apply to each patient’s visit to the clinic.

“For many years, there were free immunization clinics” that were a service to communities, said Diane Vicars, director of marketing for Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center. “Hospitals provided the manpower and the state provided the vaccinations. Because the Affordable Care Act and insurance saw vaccinations as preventative and covered by insurance, the state – the government – said, ‘Insurance will pay for this. Let’s not pay for this. Let’s make sure clinics are set up to bill insurance.’”

By this time, technology was plenty advanced to handle appointments, patient information and bill pay, Vicars said.

“Several things came into play that just made it the right thing to do – to have insurance pay for it, and not the government,” she said.

If a patient doesn’t have insurance, he or she can still get vaccinated free of charge.

“Now, the clinic bills the proper players, but they still offer it for free because the goal is to keep every child healthy,” Vicars said.

The clinic, located in the Parkview center near South Eighth Street and Tait Avenue, is run by Beatrice Community Hospital in partnership with Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

“No child will be turned away due to inability to pay," said Laura DeBoer, a registered nurse and the immunization coordinator at the clinic. “We want everybody to get their shots, so we’ll work with them and do what we have to do.”

Staff at the clinic consists of two receptionists and two registered nurses who both administer shots and educate about vaccinations.

“Our role at the clinics is to educate and provide vaccinations,” DeBoer said. “If patients have any concerns, we tell them to ask their family physician. We follow guidelines by the CDC.”

The Centers for Disease Control and DHHS websites list when children and adults need what shots.

The word “adult” was added to the title of the Beatrice clinic in January 2015, though it had always offered services to all ages. DeBoer said the number of adult patients at the clinic has tripled since two years ago.

Between January 2015 and January 2016, the clinic administered 2,201 shots to children and about 586 to adults. About 400 of those were given to adults off-site at places such as Homestead Village, Parkview Village, Samaritan Springs, DeWitt Community Center and First State Bank in Pickrell.

“We do whatever we can to get everybody their shot,” DeBoer said.

Shots commonly given to adults help prevent the flu, shingles, pneumonia, adult chickenpox and hepatitis B, as well as other illnesses including whooping cough.

Patients seeking vaccinations for rarer illnesses such as typhoid or yellow fever are referred to a clinic in Lincoln.

“We serve people from Marysville (Kansas), Hebron, Pawnee City, transient people, people here for work,” as well as local and area residents, DeBoer said.

DeBoer said the clinic works closely with area schools. Kindergartners are required by the state to receive a second chickenpox vaccination, a second MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) shot and their last DTaP shot, which helps prevent diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio. Seventh graders also receive vaccinations.

Vaccinations are important because “it keeps not only kiddos healthy, but everyone around them healthy,” DeBoer said. “It promotes a healthier society. We don’t want anyone in the hospital with something that could have been prevented.”

As of 2010, there are 82 immunization clinics in Nebraska.

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