Victoria Ruffing, R.N., B.C.-Rheum from the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center teamed up with Elizabeth Kirchner, NP from the Cleveland Clinic to understand the barriers that prevent patients from receiving vaccines through comprehensive review of the published literature and offered practical advice on how to get more patients vaccinated. Vaccines have been scientifically proven to save lives, increase lifespans, and maintain quality of life. However, only 39% of adults receive an annual flu shot. There are specific steps that can be taken to improve the vaccination rate. This is especially important in the immuno-compromised population, including patients on therapy for the treatment of rheumatic diseases.
What were the major findings?
Timing and education around vaccinations seem to be the most important factors when it comes to vaccinating patients in the rheumatology clinic. So that patients do not have to make trips to multiple doctors, rheumatology offices should stock vaccines and offer them to patients during their clinic visit. Also, rheumatology health care providers should be prepared to provide immunization reminders and alerts, educate patients on the risks and benefits of vaccinations, and address patient concerns about vaccinations in a way that is easily understood by patients and their families
What is the impact of this work?
This work provides recommendations for rheumatology practitioners on how to identify barriers to vaccination, guides for who should and should not receive currently available vaccinations, and sample language on how to have conversations with patients about vaccines. This may increase the number of people with rheumatic disease who receive much needed vaccinations by raising awareness of the most common barriers to vaccination and offering practical solutions to help rheumatologists overcome these challenges.
Link to review article:
Barriers to Immunizations and Strategies to Enhance Immunization Rates in Adults with Autoimmune Inflammatory Diseases. Kirchner E, Ruffing V. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2017 Feb;43(1):15-26.