Insect repellent now available for Medicaid members in Zika virus prevention effort

The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), has announced that as of August 22, DMAS will cover insect repellent for Medicaid members under the pharmacy benefit with a prescription.
This decision, which required approval from Governor Terry McAuliffe, is in preparation for the possibility of local transmission of the Zika virus, which can be spread through mosquito bites. Virginia becomes one of seven states in the nation that currently offer this benefit.
The coverage will apply to members enrolled in Medicaid, FAMIS, FAMIS MOMS and the Governor’s Access Plan (GAP). Pregnant women, as well as men and women of child-bearing age (14-44) who are trying to conceive, can obtain a prescription from their health care provider for the insect repellent.
Individuals should contact their pharmacy first to make sure they are participating in this benefit, and then call their health care provider and ask them to call or fax a prescription for the repellent to their pharmacy. Individuals do not need an office visit only to request a prescription for repellent.
The Zika virus has been found to cause birth defects in infants whose mothers are infected while pregnant. Because there is no preventive vaccine or medicine to treat Zika, it is important that pregnant women use repellent to prevent mosquito bites, in order that they may protect themselves and their fetuses.
It is also important for sexual partners of pregnant women and women trying to conceive to use repellent because Zika can be sexually transmitted. Although using insect repellent is a good preventive measure during mosquito season in Virginia, it is particularly important to use if a pregnant woman or her sexual partner has to travel to an area of the world with ongoing Zika virus transmission.
Since the beginning of 2016, VDH has worked to monitor and prevent the spread of Zika in Virginia. In addition to a large public awareness campaign featuring radio spots, social media and print materials, VDH worked with airports in Virginia to post signs with information for travelers returning to or traveling from an area affected by Zika.
In February 2016, Governor McAuliffe announced the creation of a statewide task force to guide preparedness initiatives related to the Zika virus. The task force, which is comprised of state and local officials, has been responsible for coordinating with Virginia localities on mosquito surveillance and control programs leading up to and during mosquito season. Should local mosquito-borne transmission of the Zika virus occur, VDH will be prepared to provide repellent to people living in a designated local transmission area.
To learn more about this benefit and what insect repellents are covered by specific health plans, visit For more information on Zika in Virginia, visit


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