In our recent blog, “The Critical Importance of Improving Immunization Rates During COVID-19”, we discussed the importance of routine immunizations in public health and the consequences of a failure to protect against influenza this flu season as presented by Dr. L.J. Tan, MS PHD, Chief Strategy Officer of the Immunization Action Coalition, during our recent vaccine webinar.
We will now look at Strategies to recover and improve the nation’s immunization coverage rates in the wake of delayed routine immunization due to COVID-19.
CDC Guidance on Maintaining Routine Immunizations
The CDC has provided guidance on maintaining routine immunizations during COVID-19. Recommendations have been made for children and adolescents, pregnant women, and adults.
Recommendations for children and adolescents
- Identify children who have missed well-child visits and/or recommended vaccinations.
- Schedule in-person appointments, starting with newborns, infants, children up to 24 months, and school-aged children. Then continue with older children, extending through adolescence.
Recommendations for Pregnant Women
- Tdap or influenza vaccinations that have been delayed as a result of reduced or deferred in-person prenatal care visits should be scheduled and given during the next in-person appointment.
Recommendations for Adults
- Older adults and adults with underlying medical conditions should be given priority as they are at increased risk for preventable disease and complications if vaccination is deferred.
Healthcare providers should take steps to ensure that their patients continue to receive vaccines according to the Standards for Adult Immunization Practice.
Strategies for Catching up Routine Immunizations
The following strategies can be used to recover and improve immunization coverage rates by “catching up” on routine immunizations that have been delayed due to COVID-19.
- Assess the vaccination status of all patients at every healthcare visit (in-person or telehealth) to identify patients who need catch-up vaccination, and reduce missed opportunities for vaccination
- Implement reminder-recall systems to identify patients who are due for or who have missed vaccine doses. (Leverage immunization information systems and electronic medical records)
- Implement standing orders to routinize assessment and administration of vaccines
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Routine immunizations are critical to maintaining public health and protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. Implementing strong catch-up strategies will help improve the nation’s immunization coverage rate and provide protection leading into this influenza season. It will also reduce the impact of respiratory illnesses and the resulting burdens on the healthcare system.
Ensuring safe and effective vaccine inventories through the appropriate capacity and quality of vaccine storage will be a crucial part of the catch-up strategy. Failure to maintain the cold chain can result in the loss of potency of vaccines. That is why it is critical to use effective cold storage units to help ensure every vaccine dose counts. Existing CDC recommendations for safe vaccine storage should be considered when choosing the equipment that will store your vaccine inventory.
Helmer Scientific offers a full range of vaccine refrigerators, vaccine freezers and ultra-low temperature freezers. Our solutions provide safe and effective vaccine storage and help meet CDC guidelines. We are prepared to support your needs as we rise to these new vaccine storage challenges together.
To view the entire webinar, Flu Season Amidst COVID-19: Avoiding the Twindemic, download the recording at the link below.