AAP Launches social media campaign to encourage parents to #CallYourPediatrician

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched a campaign on May 20 urging parents to call their pediatricians to schedule check-ups and vaccines in light of falling immunization rates. The #CallYourPediatrician campaign aims to help parents understand the importance of vaccinating and urges parents to keep pediatric check-ups and routinely vaccinate their children.

The AAP is sharing the graphics, videos, and messages on its social media platforms using the hashtag #CallYourPediatrician. Campaign materials can be downloaded in many formats and for various social media platforms, and include light hearted and humorous images. One campaign shows children jumping on the bed or making a mess with the message, “Dear parents: We’ll take them off your hands for 20 minutes. Love, Your pediatrician.”

All messages and images can be found on the AAP’s website.

Webinar: Vaccinating Adults with Chronic Conditions

The CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCRID) is hosting a webinar on Vaccinating Adults with Chronic Conditions. The webinar is Thursday, May 28, 2020, at 3:00pm ET. Three physicians will discuss strategies for increasing immunization rates among adults with conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Adults with these and other chronic health conditions are at increased risk for complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases and, as such, it is important that they are up-to-date on recommended vaccinations.

Objectives of the webinar are:

  • Explain why vaccines are important for adults with chronic conditions.
  • Describe adult vaccination coverage rates and vaccines recommended for adults with chronic conditions.
  • Effectively communicate with adult patients about the importance of getting recommended vaccines to help manage their chronic condition.
  • Analyze office procedures to reduce missed opportunities to vaccinate.
  • Identify CDC educational resources for healthcare professionals and patients.

Register here.

Increase Outreach to Families to Maintain Childhood Immunizations

The data is clear: childhood immunization rates have plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated stay-at-home orders. With the uncertainty of the pandemic’s timing, health care providers must take action to maintain vaccinations among patient populations that are wary of leaving their homes. The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released May 8, states the urgency of the situation:

Reminding parents of the vital need to protect their children against serious vaccine-preventable diseases, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, is critical. As social distancing requirements are relaxed, children who are not protected by vaccines will be more vulnerable to diseases such as measles. In response, continued coordinated efforts between health care providers and public health officials at the local, state, and federal levels will be necessary to achieve rapid catch-up vaccination.

Last week, we examined the current vaccination data. The situation is dire, however there is some good news. Examining the VSD doses administered shows an uptick in vaccine administration to children aged ≤24 months beginning in late March. This increase might reflect the success of strategies to promote childhood vaccinations in the context of the pandemic.

Below are strategies that have shown early success. These include practice management resources, talking points, and social media images to share.

Practice Management and Resources for Providers

By now, providers are well aware of the guidelines for continuing to see patients for well visits. The CDC recommends

  • Scheduling sick visits and well-child care visits during different times of the day
  • Reducing crowding in waiting rooms, by asking patients to remain outside (e.g., stay in their vehicles, if applicable) until they are called into the facility for their appointment, or setting up triage booths to screen patients safely
  • Collaborating with healthcare providers in the community to identify separate locations for providing well visits for children.

The CDC’s page on caring for children during the COVID-19 pandemic includes up to date information on maintaining childhood immunizations. The IAC has an “Ask the Experts” page titled “COVID-19 and Routine Vaccination.”

Talking Points

Vaccinate Your Family has put together two helpful guides for providers. The first, “Call, Don’t Cancel: Talking to People about Vaccinations during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” contains talking points for providers to use in communications to families. These include sections on new practice policies, setting reminders to follow-up on missed immunizations, links to help uninsured children, and information on why vaccines are still critical during this time.

The second resource from Vaccinate Your Family is designed for vaccine advocates. “Raising Vaccination Rates During a Pandemic” has steps and resources for advocates to use that may encourage people to reach out to their providers and receive routine vaccinations. These include:

  • Share talking points with your governor’s office and your state’s Secretary of Health.
  • Work with local medical professional societies to help spread the word.
  • Submit opinion pieces and letters to the editor to your local papers.
  • Consider how your community receives information.

Social Media/Images to Share

An excellent strategy to encourage vaccination during the pandemic is by communicating with families via social media or email. Many of the talking points in the “Call, Don’t Cancel” resource can be posted in a social media message or including in email or website content. The CDC has created a social media image with an important message for providers to share.

The CDC also recommends directing families to

In addition, the CDC has created sample text to share via social media with links to their easy to read schedule:

 The Ohio AAP created a handout that can be shared digitally or in print.

Hopefully by using these resources, immunization rates will rise in all age groups and we can prevent outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases.

Childhood Immunization Rates Plummet After Stay-at-Home Orders

For weeks, public health experts have warned about the effects of stay-at-home orders on routine childhood vaccines. New data confirms those fears. In the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released May 8, data shows vaccine orders and administration have plummeted. The CDC analyzed data from two sources: the first is Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) provider order data from CDC’s Vaccine Tracking System. VFC is a national program that provides federally purchased vaccines to approximately 50% of U.S. children. Researchers analyzed VFC orders of noninfluenza vaccines between January 7, 2019–April 21, 2019 (period 1) and January 6, 2020–April 19, 2020 (period 2).

The other data source is Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) vaccine administration data. VSD is a collaborative project between CDC’s Immunization Safety Office and eight U.S. health care organizations serving publicly and privately insured patients. VSD data was analyzed for measles-containing vaccine doses administered between January 6, 2020 and April 19, 2020 for two age groups: children aged ≤24 months and those aged >24 months through 18 years.

The chart below displays the plummet in vaccine orders and administrations after a national emergency was declared on March 13.

VFC purchases dropped sharply in the weeks after the March 13 declaration, while vaccine administration dropped immediately. Vaccinations among children 24 months and younger have not seen as large of a decrease as those given to older children.

Other data sources show similar results. On April 23, The New York Times reported on data gathered by PCC, a pediatric electronic health records company.

(PCC) gathered vaccine information from 1,000 independent pediatricians nationwide. Using the week of February 16 as a pre-coronavirus baseline, PCC found that during the week of April 5,  the administration of measles, mumps and rubella shots dropped by 50 percent; diphtheria and whooping cough shots by 42 percent; and HPV vaccines by 73 percent.

This is especially worrying as many children in the United States were not receiving the recommended vaccinations on time prior to the pandemic. In a March 2020 study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that only 58% of children were up-to-date with all Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended immunizations by 19 to 35 months. A further decline in vaccination rates could put many children at risk for life-threatening diseases such as measles and whooping cough.

So far, attempts to increase vaccination rates during the pandemic have centered on children 24 months and younger. However, as the stay-at-home orders stretch on, experts are looking at older children’s immunization rates. 4- and 5-year-olds received booster shots for measles, mumps, and rubella, and 11-year-olds for tetanus and whooping cough. A prolonged delay of these boosters will cause immunity to these diseases to wane.

What can be done to prevent a second health crisis caused by these plummeting vaccination rates? Next week, we will post detailed recommendations, resources, and best practices gathered from public health organizations to assist health care providers in increasing vaccination rates.

Additional COVID-19 Vendor Updates

Pfizer has announced an update to their payment terms for vaccine invoices dated January 1, 2020 or later. This update applies to Pfizer vaccines purchased through primevaccines.pfizer.com or through Pfizer Customer Service by physicians, clinics, and group practices.  Invoice payment due dates will be automatically extended to August 31, 2020 or will receive 75-day payment terms, whichever is later. The 2% prompt-pay discount will continue to apply to payments made within these terms.  No action is required on your part. No new invoices will be issued; therefore, we recommend you simply make note of the updated payment due date on your current invoice.

These temporary payment terms will apply to any new vaccine orders placed either online at primevaccines.pfizer.com or via Pfizer Customer Service at 1-800-666-7248 through August 31, 2020.  Starting September 1, 2020, payment terms of 2% 75 days, net 76 days will resume.

To help keep track of the frequent vaccine manufacturer updates, CPP has created a grid to summarize the most current payment terms. Since updates are happening regularly, bookmark this page to keep up on the latest details! https://www.cppdocs.org/covid-19-practice-management-resources.php

Managing Vaccine Waste

Each year, vaccine storage and handling errors result in significant financial loss from wasted vaccines and the revaccination of patients. When patients need to be revaccinated, they can lose faith in vaccines and providers. Proper handling and storage of vaccines can help protect patients and prevent vaccine waste. The CDC provides many resources for managing vaccine waste from handbooks and presentations to webinars and on demand courses. Below is an overview of the resources available.

The CDC’s Storage and Handling Resources main page is the hub for all resources. There you can find the Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit, an extensive guide to vaccine management. The toolkit can be downloaded from the website, and contains sections on  vaccine cold chain, training staff, inventory management, temperature monitoring, and more.

The main page also contains temperature monitoring best practices fact sheets for both refrigerated and frozen vaccines and a guide for handling a temperature excursion

The CDC also offers a course recommended for all immunization providers. The course is a self-paced document that averages 3 hours to complete, and CME credit is available. The course provides clinicians and other health care providers with ACIP’s best practices guidance on immunization.

The interactive, web-based immunization training course You Call the Shots contains a module on Vaccine Storage and Handling. This course also offers CME credit.

The Immunization Action Coalition provides a collection of handouts and fact sheets. These include signs to post in your clinic reminding staff not to turn off or unplug storage equipment, temperature logs, and various checklists.

For more information, see our blog posts on Handling Vaccine Temperature Anomalies and Refrigerator Repairs and on our LogTag temperature monitoring equipment discount for members. And remember, if you need to upgrade your vaccine storage equipment, CPP offers a grant to offset the cost.

Updated Vaccine Information Statements

The CDC released interim versions of several Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) on April 1. The CDC recommends providers begin using the updated statements immediately.

Below is a list of the updated vaccines and links to their Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) web pages.

A complete list of VISs can be found on the CDC’s website and the IAC’s website.