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FREE IMMUNIZATION PROGRAM LAUNCHED IN NEW MEXICO; CIGNA LAUNCHES IMMUNIZATION PROGRAM DURING NATIONAL IMMUNIZATION WEEK

 HARTFORD, Conn., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- In celebration of National Immunization Week (April 24-30), Lovelace, Inc., a division of CIGNA, First Lady Alice King and the New Mexico Department of Health will launch the first statewide public/private partnership to provide free vaccinations to infants and children of rural areas where there are few health care facilities.
 The initiative is called the Alice King/Lovelace immunization program after the First Lady of New Mexico and the health care organization underwriting and staffing the program. The Alice King/Lovelace immunization van, staffed with Lovelace medical personnel, will travel to 18 cities on two month rotations expecting to administer as many as 4,000 immunizations starting Thursday, April 29 in Magdalena, New Mexico. The sites were selected by the New Mexico Department of Health as having the greatest need for immunizations.
 The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that fewer than half of the nation's children younger than two years receive all recommended vaccinations to protect them against serious, sometimes deadly, diseases such as measles, mumps, tetanus, polio, whooping cough and rubella. President Clinton recently called for a national free immunization program managed by the federal government, arguing that the cost of free immunization is far lower than the cost of treating preventable diseases once they occur.
 "We can't ignore the health needs of our children any longer," says Lovelace Chief Executive Officer Derick Pasternak, M.D. "This is a prime example of how managed care, in partnership with the public sector, can provide delivery and access to needy communities and give children a head start on their health while reducing future health care costs."
 Once the initial program is underway, Governor and Mrs. King and Lovelace hope that more corporate partners will provide additional immunization vans in order to reach other areas of need in New Mexico and neighboring states.
 Lovelace, Inc., was acquired by CIGNA Employee Benefits Companies in 1991. It is New Mexico's leading integrated health care organization, comprising a 235-bed hospital, numerous patient care facilities in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and La Cruces, a 135,000-member health maintenance organization, a multi-specialty physician group practice and is affiliated with a medical research institute. The Lovelace immunization program is a component of CIGNA's national commitment to maternal and infant health.
 -0- 4/23/93
 /CONTACT: Ann Peterson or Michelle Paulson, 203-679-9878, both of Mintz & Hoke, for CIGNA/


CO: CIGNA; Lovelace, Inc. ST: Connecticut IN: HEA SU:

CH -- NE011 -- 0241 04/23/93 16:30 EDT
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Date:Apr 23, 1993
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