April 29, 2019 03:03 pm Chris Crawford – Keep an eye on your mailbox; the AAFP is sending new immunization resources to all active and resident members.
This week, the Academy is mailing family physicians full-color laminated copies of the 2019 adult, childhood/adolescent and catch-up immunization schedules developed by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices with help from the AAFP, as well as other medical specialty groups.
Additionally, members can access the immunization schedules for children, adolescents and adults on the AAFP mobile app.
These immunization materials are intended to keep FPs and, by extension, their patients on top of the latest vaccine-related information and joint recommendations from the ACIP, AAFP and other medical professional organizations. Funding to print and mail the immunization schedules was provided by a grant from Merck & Co. Inc.
AAFP liaison to the ACIP Pamela Rockwell, D.O., of Ann Arbor, Mich., told AAFP News that vaccination is one of the most important public health initiatives to reduce or eliminate infectious diseases.
"The new 2019 child and adult vaccine schedules are now easier to read, harmonized in format and updated by vaccine experts at the CDC," she said.
In an unfortunate reminder of the importance of immunizations, the United States currently finds itself in the throes of a national measles outbreak. According to the CDC, as of April 26, 704 measles cases have been reported in 22 states.
"This is the highest number of measles cases since measles was declared eradicated in 2000, and the number of measles cases is expected to rise throughout the year," Rockwell said.
In addition, Rockwell said the World Health Organization reported earlier this month that there has been a 300% increase in the number of measles cases worldwide in the first three months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018.
"That increase is part of a global trend seen over the past few years as other countries struggle with declining vaccination rates," she said. "In the U.S., measles cases are due to an increase in the number of travelers who get measles abroad and bring it into the country, and further spread of measles is facilitated in local communities with pockets of unvaccinated people."
When it comes to recommending vaccines to patients, Rockwell suggests using a presumptive approach, assuming vaccines will be administered when family physicians give a strong recommendation to vaccinate. Remember, too, that office staff play an important role in recommending and effecting positive communication around vaccination, she noted.
Family physicians should also be prepared to discuss benefits and risks of vaccines using vaccine information statements (available for every vaccine) and other reliable sources of information, such as that provided by the CDC, as well as the Shots by AAFP/Society of Teachers of Family Medicine applet in the Academy's mobile app, she said.
"Vaccines are safe for the overwhelming majority of children and adults," Rockwell said. "Serious side effects are rare. Remember that health care professionals are the most trusted source of information when it comes to vaccines."
Related AAFP News Coverage
Q&A With John Merrill-Steskal, M.D.
Expert Lists Ways to Boost Adolescent Immunization Rates
CDC: For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children