June 1, 2022, 8:45 a.m. News Staff — In 2020 the AAFP, through a cooperative agreement with the CDC, received funding to support two quality improvement projects designed to improve adult immunization rates: one that focused on minority populations in general, and another on African American adults in particular.
To achieve the projects’ objectives, the Academy recruited more than 20 family medicine practices as active participants. The overall goal of this work was to develop effective tools and strategies to establish a practice environment that addresses immunization disparities and promotes vaccination rates in vulnerable and underserved populations. The AAFP used its Office Champions Quality Improvement model, a web-based tool that incorporated a Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle along with data collection and other evidence-based strategies, for the projects.
Thanks to the efforts of the involved practices, the Academy has begun rolling out a series of immunization resources for AAFP members. The first item, part one of a two-part supplement on improving adult immunization rates, was featured in the May/June edition of FPM. The supplement pinpoints quality improvement processes that can be used to reduce vaccine disparities, lists recommended adult vaccines, and explains the importance of vaccinations within minority communities.
“There are significant disparities in immunization rates in racial and ethnic minority communities,” said Denée Moore, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond. “These groups are disproportionately affected by chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease, and these conditions are exacerbated by illnesses such as pneumonia, influenza and COVID-19. Increasing immunization rates can reduce morbidity and mortality in these vulnerable communities.”
Moore, who served on a project technical expert panel and helped develop the content in the FPM supplement, explained the connection between the supplement and patient care to AAFP News.
“Family physicians can review the workflows discussed in this supplement with their staff and together decide which ones they can implement and evaluate to increase immunization rates in their patients,” Moore said.
“The second part of the supplement will review communication techniques to increase immunization rates in racial and ethnic minority communities. Also, strategies for addressing myths and misinformation regarding immunization and improving vaccine confidence will be discussed,” she added.
The second part of the supplement will appear in FPM this fall; members are invited to contact the journal with questions or comments.
The two-part FPM supplement is one of several AAFP resources designed to improve immunization rates in racial/ethnic minorities and African American adult populations.
Last year, the Academy released “Increasing Adult Immunization Rates Among African American Communities,” a free CME activity that combines performance improvement activities with a webcast and downloadable tools, and allows participants to earn up to 21 CME credits.
The AAFP also has published several immunization-related articles that family physicians can refer patients to on familydoctor.org, including information on the latest immunization schedules and the role of immunizations in the context of preventive care.