Salk Vaccine Ended Polio Threat; TRICARE Retail Pharmacy Vaccine Program Makes Immunizations Easy
April 12 marks 57 years since Dr. Jonas Salk introduced the vaccine to protect against polio. Polio had a devastating effect on children and adults during the late 1940’s and 1950’s, and thousands of people contracted the disease each year until 1955 when the Salk vaccine was introduced. After the Salk vaccine became available, cases of polio were drastically reduced, from more than 35,000 in 1953 to fewer than 100 per year in 1965.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preventing a disease is always better than treating it. Vaccines protect against diseases that can be debilitating or deadly. Some of these diseases, such as polio, have been nearly eradicated thanks to worldwide vaccination efforts.
“When I was young, parents were very fearful of their children coming down with this terrible disease,” said Admiral Thomas McGinnis, chief of the TRICARE Pharmacy Branch. “There were thousands of children who contacted polio each year and needed crutches, leg braces or a wheel chair to get around, and many died from the disease. Today there are many childhood and adult diseases that can be easily prevented with a simple, readily available vaccination.”
Children and adults still get diseases that are preventable with vaccines. According to the CDC there have been recent resurgences of measles and pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in the U.S. Some of these resulted in the patients’ death.
TRICARE beneficiaries are covered for age-appropriate, CDC-recommended vaccines. TRICARE’s expanded retail pharmacy vaccine program lets beneficiaries to get covered vaccines (www.tricare.mil/vaccines) at participating network pharmacies at no cost. Beneficiaries can find a participating network pharmacy online at www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE/pharmacy or by calling 1-877-363-1303. Beneficiaries can also get vaccines from any TRICARE-authorized provider, but copayments or cost shares apply for office visits.
“Getting vaccinated is an easy way to protect against disease,” McGinnis said. “In the past three years that TRICARE has covered vaccines in its retail network pharmacies more than 1.3 million doses have been given free of charge to beneficiaries. We hope beneficiaries continue to realize the importance of getting vaccinated and keep getting their recommended immunizations.”
For more information on TRICARE’s coverage of vaccines go to www.tricare.mil/immunizations.