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Influenza and Pneumococcal Resources

August, 2009

Dear Health Care Provider:

Immunization is the most effective way to prevent unnecessary illness and death due to influenza among
your patients.

In 2007 in New York City, nearly 2,250 people died from complications of influenza/pneumonia illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 36,000 people die and over 226,000 people are hospitalized annually due to influenza nationwide.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) is working to improve the rate of influenza and pneumococcal vaccination within the City and reach the Healthy People 2010 goal of 90% coverage for influenza vaccine for adults 65 and older by 2010. In 2008, only 57% of NYC residents 65 and older were immunized against influenza. Furthermore, only 48% of those of age 65 and older had received a pneumococcal vaccine. Coverage rates by race and ethnicity vary dramatically. Just 52% of Black New Yorkers were vaccinated, compared to 59% of Whites and 56% of Latinos. Coverage disparity by neighborhood was even more striking. Several communities had coverage rates below 50%.

To support efforts to promote adult immunizations in your facility or medical office, the DOHMH Bureau of Immunization has prepared this Influenza and Pneumococcal Resource Guide for Providers. This Resource Guide contains the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations regarding influenza and pneumococcal disease, promotional and educational materials, provider and patient information, and recommendations designed specifically to help you plan and carry out adult immunization activities. Please note that Medicare reimbursement rates for influenza and other adult vaccines have increased; information on billing Medicare is also included in the Resource Guide.

The Resource Guide is divided into six sections that include:

This Resource Guide will provide you with the essential information needed to immunize your adult patients with recommended vaccines. Influenza vaccination for your high-risk patients should begin as soon as vaccine is received.

Please note that while DOHMH encourages providers to offer the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (when indicated) with influenza immunization, it can be given at any time of year in any setting when indicated.

Thank you for your commitment to the health of New York City. Together we can reduce the number of people at risk from the complications of flu and pneumococcal disease.

Sincerely,

Jane R. Zucker, MD, MSc
Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Immunization

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