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Focusing on “What Works” Improves Immunization Rates

By Executive Director and CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH
November 10, 2017

As we age, we gain momentum in our professional lives — becoming better and more efficient at what we do. Knowing who to call and when to ask for help means we can get results faster. Simply put, we learn to focus on “what works” to drive our success whether in research, clinical practice or education.

GSA has adopted that mantra to focus on improving adult immunization rates, which was on full display November 7 at the GSA-sponsored Capitol Hill briefing, ”Adult Immunization: Successful Programs Leading the Way to Higher Rates.” In a room filled with representatives from stakeholder organizations, policy-makers, and congressional staff, three immunization champions showcased how they are taking charge inside their organizations to dramatically improve immunization rates across the life-course.

  • Betty Chewning, PhD, discussed connecting community pharmacies and the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.
  • April Green, PharmD, shared how Ochsner Health System in Louisiana has created a culture of improvement.
  • Michael Wofford, PharmD, explained how California expanded pharmacy benefits to all ACIP-recommended vaccines for adult Medicaid patients.

While very real financial and access barriers exist, each of these programs has chosen to focus on “leading where they are” and have seen measurable impact as a result. The programs have focused on evidence-based strategies, such as standing orders, reminder-recall, and use of an immunization registry. R. Gordon Douglas Jr., MD, chair of the GSA National Adult Vaccination Program Workgroup and an incredible vaccine champion, moderated the briefing, and suggested that these and other frameworks offer a positive starting point for any health system or community seeking to improve the health of its population.

An unexpected visit from Representative Larry Bucshon of Indiana added even more energy to the room. A physician and surgeon, Bucshon shared his perspectives on the importance of prevention and announced new legislation he will be introducing aimed at improving immunization access. H.R.4297, with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, seeks to amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide information regarding vaccines for seniors as part of the Medicare & You handbook and to ensure that the treatment of cost sharing for vaccines under Medicare Part D is consistent with the treatment of vaccines under Medicare Part B.

The takeaway message was simple, yes, we can dramatically improve immunization rates. GSA is proud to lead the way through our National Adult Vaccination Program and upcoming trainings of the Immunization Champions, Advocates, and Mentors Program.

 

 

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