Calif. Gov. Brown is parting the health care wheat, with voluntary booster shots to get people covered

In the 36 years since she graduated high school, Mary Warnken has kept a very special item in her hands — an eHealth wellness reminder to get her eHealth booster shot.

Of all the people Warnken knows, she’s aware only one person hasn’t received their booster shot. That’s why Warnken was shocked when she saw the message on her phone that read, “Your eHealth booster shot is ready for you to receive.”

That text message is what Warnken expects from herself and her nine family members and friends who joined her at Newport Beach’s Mater Dei High School in California last week, where about 2,000 Orange County residents received their boosters. In addition to Warnken, citizens received a reminder through the eHealth mobile app, eHealth community calendar and social media.

That booster shot — known by its acronym, 1st ID Booster — is “really an eHealth health service,” eHealth Chief Medical Officer William Yepez explained to a cheering crowd at the event. It helps keep the peace in the state’s health care system.

In recent years, state officials have issued dozens of updates about more than 70 health regulations, which were announced on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk less than a week before the first eHealth 1st ID Booster deadline on Sept. 9. The new regulations would require health care facilities such as doctors’ offices and long-term care centers to provide a free booster vaccination, regardless of the location’s size.

Depending on state, federal or even regional health data, the booster vaccine may include shots for measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, hepatitis B, chickenpox, human papillomavirus (HPV), guinea worm, chagas disease and congenital heart disease. Those eligible to receive the booster include people up to age 45 who have not received one in the past or younger people who haven’t been vaccinated in the past.

“These health regulations are important for the nation and we thank the governor for advancing lifesaving health care by closing a critical safety gap,” said Alec Lowe, eHealth’s chief strategy officer.

“Our mission as an organization has always been to help people live healthier lives, and it was important to the experts that everyone be protected to maintain healthy life,” Yepez said.

To keep the positive momentum going, Yepez called on supporters to spread the word about the new legislation through social media.

“I encourage you to never stop talking to someone, because that’s when people really act,” he said.

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