New Program Helps Health Care Providers Increase Pediatric Influenza Vaccination Rates and Implement New Recommendations for Children 6-23 Months


BETHESDA, Md. -- Concerned with extremely low influenza vaccination rates -- the lowest for any recommended childhood vaccine in the United States -- the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) has launched a new in-practice resource program, Kids Need Flu Vaccine, Too! The program provides health care practitioners useful materials online via the NFID Web site that includes instructions on how to conduct pediatric influenza immunization clinics that will help increase vaccination rates and comply with new recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading organizations to vaccinate six through 23 month old children.

Despite long-standing recommendations to provide influenza vaccine to all children with underlying medical conditions, vaccination rates of high-risk children remain low with as few as 10 to 31 percent being immunized each year. In addition, in the upcoming influenza season, health care providers will be challenged with administering annual influenza vaccination to all infants and toddlers six through 23 months of age as well as household contacts and out-of- home caregivers of children between birth and two years.

"A number of studies demonstrate most pediatricians and family physicians do not immunize their patients, because they simply do not have the office infrastructure in place to identify and vaccinate these children during the influenza season," said Jon Abramson, MD, a member of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases. "NFID's new practice resources will help health care providers develop systems within their practices so that they are better prepared to vaccinate children six through 23 months of age against influenza as well as those children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes."

Recent studies show influenza-associated illness in children younger than 24 months of age leads to hospitalization rates similar to those among adults 65 years of age and older. During the 2003-2004 influenza season, CDC reported more than 150 influenza-related deaths among children.

Influenza and pneumonia are among the top 10 leading causes of death for children ages one to four years. The disease also puts children at significant risk for hospitalizations due to pneumonia, fever, seizures and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). In addition, influenza increases the risk of a child developing otitis media, croup and sepsis.

Kids Need Flu Vaccine, Too! Program

Kids Need Flu Vaccine, Too! provides useful, in-practice strategies to help health care providers improve pediatric influenza vaccination rates among high-risk children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes. It also facilitates the implementation of recent recommendations by the CDC, AAP and other leading organizations to vaccinate all infants and toddlers six through 23 months of age as well as household contacts and out-of- home caregivers of children between birth and two years.

The goals of the program are supported by the AAP and the National Influenza Summit. The Summit is co-sponsored by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the CDC, and is comprised of organizations representing physicians, public health, nurses, pharmacists, managed care and community providers.

Kids Need Flu Vaccine, Too! provides multifaceted approaches health care providers can use to increase pediatric influenza vaccination rates and prepare for the influenza season. The program also offers tips on educating parents about the severity of influenza and presents practice models health care providers can use when developing pediatric influenza clinics for their practices.

Program elements include:

* Comprehensive checklist on how to plan and implement in-practice clinics

* Physician-to-physician video featuring Dr. Jon Abramson, a leading pediatric infectious disease expert as well as a practicing physician

* Patient video and other patient materials underscoring the importance of influenza vaccination

* Tips to ensure proper reimbursement

* Case studies on effective pediatric immunization programs

* Sample articles for practice newsletters and tips on communicating the importance of vaccination to parents


NFID Initiative to Improve Pediatric Immunization Rates

NFID launched a national initiative to help pediatricians and family practitioners develop in-practice immunization programs and prepare for the expansion of CDC's pediatric influenza vaccination recommendations. NFID issued a report, Increasing Influenza Immunization Rates in Infants and Children: Putting Recommendations Into Practice, which details strategies to help pediatric and family practices set up successful influenza vaccination programs. Those strategies form the centerpiece of a national NFID campaign to improve pediatric immunization rates in private practice, managed care and public health settings.

About National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

Founded in 1973, NFID is a non-profit organization dedicated to public and professional educational programs about, and in support of, research into causes, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. The pediatric influenza immunization initiative was made possible through an unrestricted educational grant to NFID from Aventis Pasteur.

       CONTACT: Jennifer Corrigan

                        (732) 382-8898

                        Lynn Rudinsky

                        (212) 886-2230

Source: National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

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