Interprofessional Efforts Address Pandemic-Related Gaps in Pediatric Immunization

A pilot program utilized student pharmacists, medical residents, and nurses to facilitate well-child visits.

One widespread adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was the halt in routine medical care during periods of lockdown and business closures. Among pediatric populations, rates of routine vaccines dropped, leading to a global rise in vaccine-preventable diseases.

But at one rural family medicine practice, an interprofessional intervention pilot program intended to increase pediatric immunizations, a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers was able to increase the rate of pediatric immunization while facilitating well-child visits for health maintenance and age-related screenings. Results were presented during a poster session at the APhA 2022 Annual Meeting & Exposition.

The program, called Well Child Wednesdays, involved the staff and patients younger than 12 years at a rural family medicine practice. Student pharmacists reviewed pediatric immunization records to identify those behind on the CDC pediatric immunization schedule, then contacted caregivers to schedule a visit during 1 of 4 Well Child Wednesdays, at which a medical resident and nurse would also be present.

Of 193 reviewed charts, 68 patients were not up to date; 42.6% of these scheduled a well child visit (mean age, 4.88 years; 58.6% boys; 55.2% White). The majority of patients (93.2%) had Medicaid as a primary insurance.

Ultimately, 69% of the scheduled visits were completed, with a total of 69 vaccines administered (mean 3.5 vaccines per child)—most commonly DTaP and hepatitis A.

“Given state requirements for school attendance and mean age of patients, this approach may be useful to facilitate school entry,” the researchers noted. “[The] use of student pharmacists in clinic workflow reduced burden on front desk staff related to scheduling and facilitated review of immunization records to support nursing and medical staff roles.”

Future research, they added, might find ways to utilize pharmacists and student pharmacies in the communities as additional immunizers and to engage with patients “who were not seen to reschedule or discuss barriers to vaccination.”

Reference

Stewart-Lynch A, Lombardo S, Ceriani D, Mastrangelo S. Well Child Wednesdays: An interprofessional pilot-program to increase pediatric immunizations post-COVID. Presented at: American Pharmacists Association 2022 Annual Meeting & Exposition; March 18-21, 2022; San Antonio, TX