Influenza Vaccination of High-Risk Children

National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 03/2006; 30(2):111-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2005.10.016
Source: PubMed


Despite a longstanding national recommendation to administer influenza vaccine to children at high risk for disease complications, physicians' adherence remains low. This study evaluated physicians' perspectives on previously documented and persistent under-utilization of influenza vaccine for high-risk children.
A cross-sectional survey mailed in 2001-2002 to a nationally representative sample of 1460 U.S. physicians in four key medical specialties. The primary outcome was whether the physician provided annual influenza vaccine to children with asthma or other cardiopulmonary diseases. The hypothesis was that factors predicting reported use would fall into four categories: (1) physician knowledge, (2) physician endorsement of recommendation, (3) perceived barriers, and (4) practice patterns.
The overall response rate was 55% (n=600), but differed by specialty. Most physicians were knowledgeable about the recommendation, but collectively tended to overestimate their own achievements in immunizing high-risk children. Adherence varied by physician specialty, endorsement of recommendation, perceived barriers (including difficulty identifying subpopulations of high-risk children and confusion about who should vaccinate those receiving care from multiple providers), and under-utilization of strategies known to improve vaccination rates.
Better communication strategies are needed to resolve confusion about providing influenza vaccine to high-risk children in subspecialty settings. Because of the difficulties in selectively identifying high-risk patient subgroups, research is needed to assist in putting support strategies into practice. Findings from research in promising areas of practice-based quality improvement may be particularly applicable.

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    • "We found substantial discrepancies between measured and reported delivery of PCV7 to healthy children, with many physicians overestimating their deferral rates (i.e., compliance with CDC recommendations) for third and fourth doses. This finding is consistent with other studies showing that physicians overestimate their compliance with immunization recommendations [28] [29] [30]. Because surveys are much less expensive than medical record reviews and information may be obtained more quickly, public health officials rely heavily on survey data to ascertain behavior during vaccine shortages [13] [14] [16] [31]. "
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The United States has experienced two shortages of heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7). National guidelines called for deferring the third and fourth PCV7 doses from healthy children during these shortages. However, recommendations were not the same during the first and second shortages, and recommendations changed over time during each of the shortages as shortages worsened. OBJECTIVES: To measure PCV7 immunizing behavior for healthy children during shortage and non-shortage periods and assess the accuracy of the physicians' reported immunizing behavior when compared to their actual immunizing behavior. METHODS: We reviewed medical records in 14 randomly selected practices to measure actual immunizing behavior during shortage and non-shortage periods. We surveyed pediatricians in the Greater Cincinnati area to ascertain reported immunizing behavior. Actual and reported immunizing behaviors were compared. RESULTS: 2888 medical records were reviewed; surveys were obtained from 51 pediatricians (65% response rate). During periods of non-shortage, 74% of healthy children received their first two doses of PCV7 on time, whereas during periods of shortage, only 66% of healthy children received their first two doses of PCV7 on time. Compared with measured immunizing behavior from chart reviews, 54-76% of the pediatricians overestimated their compliance with guidelines to defer the fourth PCV7 dose while only 5-20% underestimated their compliance. CONCLUSIONS: Physicians often overestimated the percentage of children whose vaccine doses they deferred during vaccine shortages. Despite these findings, physicians were able to maintain high coverage with the first two PCV7 doses among healthy children.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Vaccine
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    • "It is also well recognized that multilevel interventions, including recommendations to vaccinate provided by physicians, represent a powerful factor favoring immunization [18,19]. On the other hand, determinants of influenza immunization in children affected with chronic diseases may differ from those of the general healthy population and have not been sufficiently studied. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Despite recommendations by Health Authorities, influenza immunization coverage remains low in children with chronic diseases. Different medical providers involved in the management of children with chronic conditions may affect the pattern of influenza vaccine recommendations and coverage. The likelihood of vaccination by type of provider in children with chronic conditions is poorly understood. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to analyze the pattern and the effect of recommendations for seasonal influenza immunization provided by different physician profiles to families of children with chronic diseases and to measure the frequency of immunization in the study population. Methods We recruited children with chronic diseases aged 6 months–18 years who subsequently presented to specialty clinics for routine follow-up visits, during spring 2009, in three Italian Regions Families of children with chronic diseases were interviewed during routine visits at reference centers through a face-to-face interview. We analyzed the following immunization predictors: having received a recommendation toward influenza immunization by a health provider; child’s sex and age; mothers and fathers’ age; parental education and employment; underlying child’s disease; number of contacts with health providers in the previous year. Influenza immunization coverage was calculated as the proportion of children who received at least one dose of seasonal influenza vaccine in the previous season. We calculated prevalence ratios and we used a generalized linear model with Poisson family, log link and robust error variance to assess the effect of socio-demographic variables, underlying diseases, and recommendations provided by physicians on influenza immunization. Results We enrolled 275 families of children with chronic diseases. Overall influenza coverage was 57.5%, with a low of 25% in children with neurological diseases and a high of 91.2% in those with cystic fibrosis. While 10.6% of children who did not receive any recommendation toward influenza immunization were immunized, among those who received a recommendation 87.5-94.7% did, depending on the health professional providing the recommendation. Receiving a recommendation by any provider is a strong predictor of immunization (PR = 8.5 95% CI 4.6;15.6) Most children received an immunization recommendation by a specialty (25.8%) or a family pediatrician (23.3%) and were immunized by a family pediatrician (58.7%) or a community vaccinator (55.2%). Conclusions Receiving a specific recommendation by a physician is a strong determinant of being immunized against seasonal influenza in children with chronic diseases independently of other factors. Heterogeneity exists among children with different chronic diseases regarding influenza recommendation despite international guidelines. Increasing the frequency of appropriate recommendations toward influenza immunization by physicians is a single powerful intervention that may increase coverage in children with chronic conditions.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · BMC Public Health
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    • "Despite these recommendations, estimates of influenza vaccination levels reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fall below targets proposed in the Healthy People 2010 initiative [4,8,9]. Possible reasons for low rates of influenza vaccination may be limited practitioner recognition of the severity of influenza in young children, difficulty in identifying appropriate high-risk candidates, confusion about which provider is responsible for immunization when multiple providers are involved in patient care, and underutilization of strategies known to improve vaccination rates [10,11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices advocates that influenza immunization is the most effective method for prevention of illness due to influenza. Recommendations for vaccination of children against influenza have been revised several times since 2002, and as of 2008 include all children 6 months to 18 years of age. Nevertheless, influenza immunization rates have remained low. We surveyed practicing pediatricians in Maryland in the spring of 2007 to determine their attitudes and practices toward childhood influenza immunization. The overall response to the survey was 21%. A total of 61% of respondents reported that immunization either is cost neutral or produces a loss, and 36.6% noted it was minimally profitable. Eighty-six percent of respondents were receptive to supporting school-based immunization programs, and 61% indicated that they would participate in such programs. Respondents reported higher rates of immunization of select patient groups than those noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccination was reported to occur at multiple types of patient encounters, as recommended. Survey respondents stated that practice-based immunization was not a profitable service. Pediatricians were supportive of school-based immunization programs, and more than half stated they would be actively involved in such programs. School-based programs may be critical to achieving high vaccination coverage in the school-aged population.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2009 · BMC Pediatrics
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