AAFP Mapping Tool Aims to Enhance Immunization Advocacy

New Resource Presents Vaccine Legislation, Coverage Data by State

August 23, 2017 01:04 pm Cindy Borgmeyer

When it comes to protecting your 2-year-old patients from whooping cough, where you live and practice can make a big difference.  

[Map of United States]

For example, according to a new online tool from the AAFP, young children who live in New Mexico are, on average, more likely than those who live in neighboring Texas to have received four or more doses of diphtheria, tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine.

Specifically, nearly nine out of 10 children younger than three who live in New Mexico have had at least four doses of DTaP vaccine, compared with fewer than eight in 10 children who live in Texas.

Another immunization tidbit the tool reveals: Kansas holds the dubious honor of being the state with the lowest percentage of teen girls and young women who have received at least one dose of HPV vaccine, at only 38.3 percent. The proportion who have received at least three HPV doses is even more dismal, at less than one-quarter of eligible young women in the state.

Furthermore, the tool provides a breakdown by state of the types of vaccination exemptions permitted: religious, philosophical and/or medical. So, regarding the first example above, this functionality shows that whereas Texas allows parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated for religious or philosophical reasons, New Mexico permits parents to opt out of these immunizations only for religious reasons.

Those are just some of the types of data that family physicians and others can isolate by using the State Immunization Information System (IIS) Legislation tool to aid them in immunization-focused outreach to state legislators, said Pam Carter-Smith, M.P.A., clinical policies strategist in the AAFP's Health of the Public and Science Division.

"Our intent for the map was for people to be able to advocate at the state level for better registry information and to increase those immunization rates," Carter-Smith told AAFP News.

Key to those goals, she noted, is being able to optimize the immunization data-gathering process, such as by expanding the types of health care professionals who participate in state-based IISs and ensuring that vaccination information for all patient populations is recorded.

As it stands, said Carter-Smith, "Pharmacists don't have to report in all states," so data on vaccines given in pharmacies aren't being captured in those states' IISs. Similarly, she added, "Sometimes adult data doesn't get reflected in the registry."

By using the state-by-state information the tool offers through both maps and information tables, immunization advocates can show state legislators where immunization data are falling through the cracks and appeal to them to tighten up reporting requirements. Getting as complete a picture of overall vaccine coverage as possible allows health policy makers to more reliably target efforts to enhance public health through immunization outreach programs.

Developed with support provided by the AAFP Foundation through a grant from Sanofi Pasteur, the tool uses vaccine coverage statistics drawn from CDC data gathered as part of the agency's National Immunization Surveys, National Health Interview Surveys and similar information sources. All information in the mapper tool is periodically updated.

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