AMA guide aims to boost vaccinations
■ Primer aims to provide tools physicians can use to reduce significant racial and ethnic disparities.
By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted June 27, 2005
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In order to make it easier for physicians to get patients all the shots they need, the AMA this month released "Improving Immunization: Addressing Racial and Ethnic Populations," the latest installment in its Roadmaps for Clinical Practice Series, available online (link).
The immunization monograph provides strategies to help physicians deal with patients who have missed vaccination doses, lack records of what they've already received or are unwilling to be vaccinated.
In an effort to improve overall immunization rates, the series suggests that doctors use multilingual educational materials, implement reminder and recall systems and assess their practice's immunization rates. Barriers unique to each racial and ethnic minority group are also discussed.
"Unfortunately, there are still too many individuals, especially in minority communities, who do not benefit from the protection of immunization," said AMA President John C. Nelson, MD, MPH. "This primer encourages physicians to take a leadership role in promoting vaccination."
Meanwhile, more immunizations, particularly for the adolescent age group, are getting attention.
A study in the June 2 Journal of the American Medical Association concluded a combined tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine was safe for use in teens and adults. Additionally, a study in the June Pediatrics found such a shot would be cost effective for adolescents. To be cost effective in adults, however, the vaccine price would have to be very low and the disease prevalence significantly higher. Adolescents and adults are currently only recommended to receive diphtheria and tetanus boosters, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices may give the nod to the additional pertussis booster at its June 29 meeting.
Also, initial data from phase III studies of the human papillomavirus vaccine, released at last month's meeting of the European Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in Valencia, Spain, found that a higher immune response was produced in adolescent females than males.