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Retail clinics fight tetanus vaccination gap

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The retail walk-in clinics in drug stores, discount stores and supermarkets are starting to get a reputation as the place to go to get a quick flu shot, and they are also building a clientele in the tetanus shot market.

About 0.6 percent of the clinics’ 15 million 2013 billings were for tetanus vaccine, according to data from Fair Health, a health care cost transparency organization formed in connection with a settlement New York state negotiated with health insurers in 2009.

The percentage of the retail clinics’ billings connected with tetanus shots was up from 0.2 percent in 2010.

Vaccination products and services of all kinds accounted for about 12 percent of the clinics’ total billings in 2013, according to Fair Health. The clinics in its data have been giving an average of about three to five flu shots for every tetanus shot they provide.

Measles and influenza are getting most of the headlines these days, but infections caused by the poisons ejected by Clostridium tetani, a spore-forming bacteria, caused a total of 233 known cases in the United States from 2001 through 2008. The 197 cases with known outcomes had a case fatality rate of 13 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC researchers believe almost all cases of tetanus can be prevented if people are properly vaccinated. Only one of the tetanus patients that CDC researchers studied who was over age 50 had had a complete set of primary tetanus shots and boosters.

The tetanus vaccination coverage rate is just 46 percent for adults ages 65 to 74, and barely 37 percent for adults ages 75 and older.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) now requires all PPACA-compliant major medical plans to make tetanus shots from some type of provider available to enrollees without imposing co-payments, deductibles, coinsurance requirements or other cost-sharing requirements on the enrollees.

See also: Walgreen clinics to handle chronic illness care.