Expanding Access to Vaccines through School-Based Clinics

Medicaid is an essential part of American health care, covering about 1 in 5 Americans, including more than 37 million children.

Children enrolled in Medicaid receive all vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit. The Vaccines for Children Program provides vaccines at no cost for children under 18 who are enrolled in Medicaid, are uninsured or underinsured, or who are American Indian or Alaska Native.

Increasing Access to Childhood and Other Vaccines

During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many children have missed scheduled vaccinations, including recommended vaccinations against the flu and COVID-19. In response, state Medicaid agencies and Medicaid managed care organization across the country have taken action to support vaccine roll-out efforts.

The National Association of School Nurses (NASN), a Modern Medicaid Alliance partner, is helping expand access to life-saving vaccines by providing school nurses with valuable tools and information to host school-located vaccination clinics (SLVs). SLVs are temporary clinics on school grounds that focus on vaccinating students enrolled in that school. The clinics involve close collaboration with school nurses and staff, public health departments, school districts, local care providers, and other community organizations, leading to improved access and equity in community vaccination.

To strengthen and sustain SLVs in promoting public health and responding to infectious disease threats, NASN partnered with the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) to conduct a roundtable discussion with school nurses and state immunization program managers. The important findings were shared in an environmental scan report, including:

  • SLVs not only offer opportunities to deliver routine vaccinations to children and qualifying family members who face barriers to care, but they also support community health by offering COVID-19 and influenza vaccines as well.
  • Personalized, direct outreach to students and families in multiple languages were the most successful for participation in the SLVs.
  • Partnerships play a key role in SLV effectiveness, including medical centers and health systems, local providers and pharmacies, and community organizations and non-profits.

Based on the findings, NASN developed the School Located Vaccination: Nurse Planning Checklist, a resource for school nurses to effectively plan, execute, and evaluate an SLV in their local community. Association of Immunization Managers created a tips sheet for immunization programs that are implementing SLVs during the COVID-19 pandemic. In these resources, NASN emphasizes the importance of equitable vaccine access and utilizing community partners to prevent and reduce disease among underserved populations.

Medicaid is America’s largest health care program and an essential safety net for the more than 80 million Americans it serves. Modern Medicaid Alliance partners like the NASN are working hard in the communities they serve to improve care quality and ensure access to affordable, effective, high-quality health coverage.