NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2006 ANNALS OF FAMILY MEDICINE TIP SHEET
With the cold and flu season upon us, the November/December issue of Annals of Family Medicine features several studies that cover the following topics:
The flu vaccine shortage of 2004 appears to have had a negative impact on continuity of care according to an analysis of Medicare data in West Virginia. Medicare claims for flu vaccinations in West Virginia dropped by more than 50 percent from more than 92,000 in 2003 to approximately 44,000 in 2004. The shortage severely affected the ability of physicians to provide influenza vaccination to their patients and therefore some patients received vaccines from sources other than their regular doctors, most often from a mass immunizer, or did not receive vaccine at all. The percentage of Medicare recipients who received flu vaccine from the same clinician as the year before fell from 54 percent in 2002-2003 to 3 percent in 2003-2004. The authors suggest that the disruption of continuity of care is concerning because continuity of care in the ambulatory care setting has important benefits including improved health and reduced health care costs.
A second study looks at ways to help inner-city health centers raise vaccination rates among high-risk children and finds that when a menu of tailored interventions (such as flu vaccines on a walk-in basis or reminder e-mails for clinicians) is implemented in inner-city health centers, the result is a modest rise in flu vaccination rates for children aged 2 to 17 years. Influenza vaccination rates improved modestly from baseline (10.4 percent) to 13.1 percent during the first year of the intervention
Contact: Kristin Robinson
American Academy of Family Physicians