Objective. In 2000, heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) was recommended for children younger than 2 years, but its high cost relative to other universally recommended childhood immunizations and variability in insurance coverage for the vaccine raised concerns. We investigated the influence of PCV7 cost and insurance coverage on physician recommendation of PCV7 to their patients and administration of PCV7 in their practices. Methods. We conducted a mail survey from April to July 2001 of a random sample of 833 pediatricians and 788 family physicians in 24 states with different vaccine financing strategies (Vaccines for Children [VFC]-only; enhanced VFC; universal purchase). Physicians specified the proportion of children in their practice with insurance coverage for PCV7, where they recommend administering PCV7, and whether they have concerns about the cost of PCV7. Results. The response rate was 60%. Overall, 87% of physicians recommend PCV7 for children younger than 2 years (99% pediatricians; 68% family physicians). Among physicians who recommend PCV7, 98% said that they would administer the vaccine in their own practices for children whose insurance covers the vaccine. However, only 56% of physicians who recommend PCV7 reported that all children in their practices had insurance coverage for the vaccine, whereas 24% of physicians reported 86% to 99% of children with coverage and 20% reported ≤85% of children with coverage. Among physicians in the last group with the lowest PCV7 insurance coverage rates in their practices, only 44% said that they would administer the vaccine in their own practices to children without PCV7 coverage, compared with 62% of physicians who provide care to children with higher rates of PCV7 coverage. Physicians in states with VFC-only vaccine financing strategies for PCV7 are less likely to administer PCV7 in their own practices to children without coverage than physicians in states with enhanced VFC and universal purchase strategies (48% vs 64% vs 74%). Almost one third of physicians who recommend PCV7 are concerned about the cost of PCV7; those with cost concerns are more likely to recommend that children without insurance coverage for PCV7 receive the vaccine at a public health clinic rather than in their own practices (45% vs 29%). Physicians with cost concerns are also more likely to say that they now screen children for insurance coverage more than for previously recommended vaccines (52% vs 21% for physicians without cost concerns). Conclusions. Nationwide, physician adoption of PCV7 recommendations is high, but where physicians recommend that PCV7 be administered differs significantly by children's variable insurance coverage for the vaccine and by state vaccine financing strategies. Physicians' concerns about the cost of PCV7 may foreshadow their responses to future children's vaccines that may be even more expensive.
- Family physician
- Health insurance
- Physician behavior
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health