Implementation of universal influenza immunization recommendations for healthy young children: Results of a randomized, controlled trial with registry-based recall

Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, United States
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 01/2005; 115(1):146-54. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2004-1804
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT An Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices policy of encouraging influenza vaccination for healthy 6- to 23-month-old children was in effect during the 2003-2004 influenza season, which was unusually severe in Colorado. We collaborated with 5 pediatric practices to attempt universal influenza immunization in this age group.
The objectives were (1) to assess the maximal influenza immunization rates that could be achieved for healthy young children in private practice settings, (2) to evaluate the efficacy of registry-based reminder/recall for influenza vaccination, and (3) to describe methods used by private practices to implement the recommendations.
The study was conducted in 5 private pediatric practices in Denver, Colorado, with a common billing system and immunization registry. Although recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices included children who were 6 to 23 months of age at any point during the influenza season, our practices chose not to recall children 22 to 23 months of age, because they would have become >24 months of age during the study period. Therefore, our study population consisted of all healthy children 6 to 21 months of age from the 5 practices (N = 5193), who were randomized to intervention groups (n = 2595) that received up to 3 reminder/recall letters or to control groups (n = 2598) that received usual care. The primary outcome was receipt of >or=1 influenza immunization, as noted either in the immunization registry or in billing data.
Immunization rates for >or=1 dose of influenza vaccine for the intervention groups in the 5 practices were 75.9%, 75.4%, 68.1%, 55.6%, and 44.3% at the end of the season. Overall, 62.4% of children in the intervention groups and 58.0% of children in the control groups were immunized (4.4% absolute difference), with absolute differences, compared with control values, ranging from 1.0% to 9.1% according to practice. However, before intensive media coverage of the influenza outbreak began (November 15, 2003), absolute differences, compared with control values, ranged from 5.1% to 15.3% and were 9.6% overall. Before November 15, significant effects of recall were seen for children in the intervention groups, in both the 12- to 21-month age category (10.4% increase over control) and the 6- to 11-month category (8.1% increase over control); at the end of the season, however, significant effects of recall were seen only for the older age group (6.2% increase over control). The rates of receipt of 2 vaccine doses >or=1 month apart for eligible children ranged from 21% to 48% among the practices. Four of the 5 practices held influenza immunization clinics during office hours, evenings, or weekends, and these clinics achieved higher coverage rates.
These results demonstrated that, in an epidemic influenza year, private practices were able to immunize the majority of 6- to 21-month-old children in a timely manner. Although media coverage regarding the epidemic blunted the effect of registry-based recall, recall was effective in increasing rates early in the epidemic, especially for children between 1 and 2 years of age. The practices that achieved the highest immunization rates were proactive in planning influenza clinics to handle the extra volume of immunizations required.

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