Keep an eye on your mailbox; new immunization resources from the AAFP are on their way to all active and resident members.
Among the items mailed to family physicians on May 16 are full-color laminated copies of the 2016 adult, childhood and catch-up immunization schedules; information on the Academy's clinical recommendations for immunization; specific guidance on talking with parents about immunizing their infants; and more.
Made possible by a grant from Merck & Co. Inc., the documents that were sent are designed to keep FPs and their patients on top of the latest vaccine-related information and joint recommendations from the CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the AAFP, and other medical specialty organizations.
According to Jennifer Frost, M.D., medical director for the AAFP Health of the Public and Science Division, changes to the 2016 recommendations did not signal any dramatic changes in care, but rather added clarity to existing vaccine guidance. The most significant changes involved HPV vaccination, serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine and pneumoccocal vaccination.
For instance, Merck's nine-valent HPV vaccine (HPV9; Gardasil 9) is now recommended as one of three options to vaccinate males and females ages 9-26. The HPV vaccine is routinely recommended at age 11 or 12, but it can be administered as early as age 9. It is also included in catch-up schedules for women through age 26 and men through age 21. It's worth noting, however, that men at high risk for HPV (e.g., men who have sex with men or those who are immunocompromised or have HIV infection) can be given the vaccine through age 26.
Regarding MenB vaccination, the ACIP has recommended that patients age 10 or older who are at increased risk for MenB disease receive either a two-dose series of MenB-4c vaccine (Bexsero) or a three-dose series of MenB-FHbp vaccine (Trumenba).
ACIP members also issued a Category B recommendation for patients 16 to 23 who aren't at increased risk for the disease, saying they may receive the vaccine to provide short-term protection against most strains of meningococcus B.
And although the ACIP and other groups continue to recommend that a dose of the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13; Prevnar13) be followed by a dose of the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23; Pneumovax23) in adults age 65 or older who haven't had the vaccine and in patients 2 or older who are at high risk of pneumococcal disease, the interval between administration of the two vaccines has been adjusted for adults. Based on recommendations the ACIP made during its June 2015 meeting, the interval between PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccination has shifted from six to 12 months for immunocompetent adults 65 or older to at least one year between the doses.
"They tried to make it simpler for adults," says Frost.
But one of the most important changes, she adds, isn't to the content of the immunization schedules but rather to their layout. Instead of displaying the recommendations organized by vaccine, the 2016 schedules categorize the recommendations based on age.
"Hopefully, it will be easier for the clinician and save time," Frost notes. "It's a little bit more straightforward."
Along with the traditional color-coded schedules being sent out, the AAFP is also sending pocket-sized versions of the schedules.
"It's a new piece that we're offering this year," says Pam Carter, clinical policies strategist in the AAFP Health of the Public and Science Division.
And finally, don't forget that your recommendation to vaccinate is key to convincing patients to be immunized. That's according to a letter from AAFP President Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A., of York, Pa., included in the resources packet.
"Immunizations are a proven way to prevent disease for children, adolescents and adults," says Filer, "yet vaccination rates are not as high as they should be.
"The single most important factor in a patient's or parent's decision to immunize themselves or their children is the strong recommendation from a physician."
More From AAFP
Provider Resources for Vaccine Conversations With Parents(www.cdc.gov)