American College of Physicians and partners seek to improve immunization rates

PHILADELPHIA — The American College of Physicians, CECity and Pfizer on Wednesday announced a new initiative designed to increase adult immunization rates. 

"As a national organization of internists, ACP's internal medicine physician specialists and their practice teams play a critical role in increasing adult immunization rates," stated Robert Centor, chair of ACP's Board of Regents, and a practicing internist. "Recommending and offering appropriate vaccinations is a core component of preventive health care, leading to improved public health, less suffering and fewer deaths from preventable illnesses, and lower healthcare costs."

The goal of this public health initiative is to meet the National Vaccine Advisory Committee's standards for adult immunization. The standards call on all healthcare providers to assess vaccine status at each visit, strongly recommend vaccinations to patients, administer or refer for immunization and document vaccination. Current vaccination rates for recommended vaccines in the United States fall far short of those goals, with all rates well below 70%. 

"Pfizer is working to raise immunization rates to help protect against vaccine preventable diseases," said Freda Lewis-Hall, EVP and chief medical officer for Pfizer. "By bringing together tremendous expertise in health care, technology and quality improvement, this collaboration can make great strides to address the long-standing public health challenge of vaccinating American adults."

Research shows that a physician recommendation is the strongest predictor of vaccination, the coalition noted. Although the tracking and improvement of adult immunization rates has been encouraged through guidelines and multiple incentives programs, including the meaningful use of electronic health records, most physicians currently do not have the information they need to close the gap and increase the number of patients vaccinated.

A national advisory group co-chaired by Bernard Rosof, CEO of QHC Advisory Group and William Schaffner, immediate past-president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, will oversee the program, which will incorporate documented strategies for increasing adult immunization rates and existing ACP resources.

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