COLUMBUS —As Ohio hospitals and schools struggle with staff and student COVID-19 outbreaks, Ohio health plans are once again collaborating to drive COVID-19 vaccination among Medicaid Managed Care and MyCare Ohio members. The 2022 focus is to get Medicaid members under age 18, especially those in the 5-11 age group, vaccinated against COVID-19.
Working together in 2021, Ohio’s Medicaid Managed Care plans (MCPs)— Aetna, Buckeye Health Plan, CareSource, Molina Healthcare, Paramount Advantage and UnitedHealthcare — developed and implemented a comprehensive Vax on the Spot campaign to greatly improve the COVID-19 vaccination rate among Medicaid and MyCare Ohio members, who were less than half as likely to be vaccinated as Ohioans in general.
“We really saw unprecedented cooperation among our health plans, providers, pharmacists and community organizations to reach that goal,” said Kelly O’Reilly, president and CEO of the Ohio Association of Health Plans. “But the vaccination rate for young children is low. We need to protect our most vulnerable members from getting seriously ill, especially as the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly through the U.S.
Recent statistics from the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) show that overall, nearly 18% of all Ohio children ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated, compared to just over 7% of Ohio children ages 5-11 enrolled in Medicaid.
To help raise those rates, now through June 30, 2022, Ohio Medicaid/MyCare plans are alerting members to vaccination opportunities through text and email and offering help with transportation where needed. Local pharmacies, doctor’s offices and health departments are also partnering in this initiative. In addition, members 5 and older will receive $100 gift cards for getting their first COVID-19 vaccination and showing their health plan member ID card. The Vax on the Spot campaign website makes finding and getting the vaccine easier than ever.
Medicaid Managed Care plans are also focused on getting more pregnant members vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women who are pregnant or recently pregnant are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women. Also, women who have COVID-19 during pregnancy are at increased risk of preterm birth and stillbirth as well as pregnancy complications. The vaccine is recommended for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant. The vaccines are safe for children and pregnant women, and the risks of contracting COVID-19 are greater than any risk associated with receiving the vaccine.
The MCPs are encouraging vaccination by sending messages directly to their members, reaching out through community-based organizations and running an advertising campaign. Pregnant members who receive their first vaccination are also eligible for the $100 gift card.
Understanding that parents and caregivers have concerns about the safety of the vaccines as well as possible side effects and long-term effects, the Vax on the Spot website includes key questions and answers around vaccines for kids and pregnant women.
The gift cards will continue to be available to eligible Medicaid and MyCare members through June 30, 2022.
For more on Ohio’s Medicaid Managed Care Organizations, visit https://medicaid.oahp.org/.