The American College of Physicians (ACP) was awarded a $1,002,884 Cooperative Agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase immunization rates in the United States. The award enables ACP to expand its seven-state evidence-based program to increase adult vaccination rates, which was funded by the CDC for 2013-15.
"Appropriate immunization of adults is a core component of preventive health care, leading to improved public health, fewer deaths, less suffering, and lower health care costs," said Wayne J. Riley, MD, MACP, president, ACP. "This award will help ACP's internal medicine physician members and their practice teams to protect their patients from serious, painful, and life-threatening diseases such as influenza, pneumococcal disease, shingles, whooping cough, measles, and others."
Fully funded by the CDC, this ACP national immunization initiative will expand its 2013-15 program piloted in partnership with state ACP chapters in Arizona, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, and New York. In those states, ACP assisted 381 physicians in implementing strategies for improving adult immunization rates toward the federal government's goals for 2020, including seasonal influenza immunization rates of 80 to 90 percent of adults, depending on risk factors. The most recent data show only 42 percent of adults receives this vaccine.
Results from ACP's pilot program include increasing immunization rates for herpes zoster by 14.3 percent, high risk pneumococcal by 23.5 percent, influenza by 18.3 percent (and 25 percent for health care personnel), and Tdap by 14.7 percent.
ACP endorses the annual Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Adult Immunization Schedule and advises adults to get immunized for seasonal flu and to use that opportunity to discuss with their internist other vaccinations they might need. These include Tdap to protect against tetanus; diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough); pneumococcal to protect against pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis; HPV to prevent cervical, anal, and other cancers; Hepatitis B; and herpes zoster to help prevent shingles.
"Many adults are unaware of the benefits of vaccines, the need for booster doses, and the availability of newer vaccines," Dr. Riley said. "Every year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of adults get sick, miss work, or die because of vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications. That's why ACP supports eliminating existing exemptions, except for medical reasons, from immunization laws. Allowing exemptions based on non-medical reasons poses a risk both to the unvaccinated person and to public health."