City Health Information
Volume 32 (2013) New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene No. 3; 11-18
 

IN THIS ISSUE

 

Influenza Prevention and Control, 2013-2014
  • Vaccinate everyone aged 6 months and older against influenza as early as possible.
  • Give inactivated vaccine to all pregnant women in any trimester.
  • Get your flu vaccination as soon as vaccine becomes available and ensure that your staff does the same.

 

IMPROVING VACCINATION RATES

The most important strategy for improving influenza vaccination coverage is to recommend and offer influenza vaccine—and pneumococcal vaccine, if appropriate—at every patient visit. Educate patients and staff about the importance of vaccination (Resources—NYC DOHMH), and dispel any misconceptions that may hinder acceptance, such as the belief that influenza is no worse than a very bad cold, is only dangerous in older people, or that vaccination will cause a mild version of influenza. Consider extending office hours on evenings and weekends to accommodate working families. Have staff follow up by calling patients or sending postcard mailings, or use electronic medical record recall/reminder systems to contact patients due for influenza vaccination (Resources—City Health Information). The Health Department's Citywide Immunization Registry has reminder/recall features that allow providers to generate lists of patients due for immunizations and create patient reminder letters that can be mailed (Box 7).

Pharmacy-based vaccination of adults aged 18 and older contributes to higher vaccination rates, especially in medically underserved populations (45). In 2009, influenza vaccination coverage for people aged 65 and older in NYC was stagnant at approximately 52%. In 2011, after pharmacists were able to provide influenza vaccine to seniors, coverage jumped to 67% (20). In 2012, more than 10% of adults reported receiving an influenza vaccine in a retail pharmacy or store. Be sure to ask patients whether they have received an influenza vaccination this season in a pharmacy or other venue and document this in the patient's medical record. Providers are responsible for ensuring that their patients are protected, even if vaccinations are given outside of the medical home. Documentation of this information will ensure that providers receive credit for patients vaccinated elsewhere in their overall practice level coverage.

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