AMA Primer Aims to Help Physicians Improve Immunization Rates

CHICAGO ­ The American Medical Association (AMA) today released a new primer to help physicians improve immunization rates, particularly in minority populations.  The primer, Roadmaps for Clinical Practice, Improving Immunization: Addressing Racial and Ethnic Populations, provides tools to help physicians ensure that patients are up-to-date with their vaccinations.  The primer also contains important information for patients and their families, including immunization schedules for both children and adults.


Vaccines protect patients from at least 14 diseases once common in the United States, says AMA president John C. Nelson, MD, MPH. Unfortunately, there are still too many individuals, especially in minority communities, who do not benefit from the protection of immunization.  This primer encourages physicians to take a leadership role in promoting vaccination for all patients.Although immunization is one of the most effective ways to protect patients from infectious disease, studies show that many individuals do not receive the vaccinations they need.  Greater gaps are seen in adolescent and adult immunization coverage rates than in childhood rates.   


While significant effort has been made to close immunization gaps, racial and ethnic disparities still exist across the board for pediatric, adolescent and adult populations.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood immunization rates are as high as 90 percent, but African-American and Latino children are less likely to receive recommended vaccinations than white children. 


Among adolescents and adult populations, coverage rates for vaccine-preventable diseases average less than 70 percent nationally. Recent data shows that influenza vaccine coverage for adults 65 years and older is 70 percent for whites, 52 percent for African-Americans and 46 percent for Latinos.  Deaths linked to vaccine-preventable diseases are the fifth-leading cause of death in patients 65 years and older.  Factors such as limited access to prevention services, cultural and language differences between patients and physicians, and lack of familiarity with immunization schedules all contribute to undervaccination.


The four-booklet primer includes recommendations for reporting guidelines for vaccine-preventable diseases; information on handling, administering and storing vaccine; case scenarios; and strategies to help physicians address the specific needs of minority populations. The primer is available online at


The primer is the latest volume in the AMAs Roadmaps for Clinical Practice: Case Studies in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion series, which provides physicians and other health professionals with clinical strategies and tools to address the leading causes of preventable morbidity and premature mortality.  The project is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from sanofi Pasteur.


Source: American Medical Association

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