White Paper Gives Road Map on Increasing Nation’s Immunization Efforts

flu shots

Senior with Flu — Photo Credit:: National Institute on Aging

A summit convened by Washington, D.C.-based The Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) National Adult Vaccination Program (NAVP) gives health care providers a roadmap on advancing has resulted in a roadmap for increasing immunization efforts in the nation’s long term care facilities.  A dozen recommendations — including five priority actions — have been outlined in GSA’s recently released white paper last month, “Charting a Path to Increase Immunization Rates in the Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Setting. “

The summit and the 24 page white paper were developed by GSA with the support of Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the multinational pharmaceutical company, Sanofi.

The summit, held in Washington, DC, in May, brought government officials, immunization advocacy organizations, and professional societies representing those who work in long-term care.

“Immunization in long-term care is critical as we are dealing with individuals at great risk for getting the flu, pneumonia, shingles, and associated complications,” said GSA Past President Barbara Resnick, PhD, RN, CRNP, FGSA, who sits on the NAVP Workgroup and participated in the summit in a statement when the white paper was released.

Moreover, Resnick added that residents in long-term care are living in close proximity to other individuals and can easily share/pass infections.

“In addition to immunizing residents, it is necessary to immunize staff so that they do not increase resident exposure to viruses and so that staff are not missing days of work,” adds Resnick. “The white paper developed by GSA has recommendations for how to best motivate and engage staff in getting immunized themselves and making sure that all residents are immunized,” she says.

As detailed in the white paper, the summit participants called for increase use of mandatory staff vaccination policies and making getting a vaccination a condition of being hired. They also supported the implementation of mandatory resident vaccination policies across all long-term care settings. They recommended the creation of financing sip sheets (e.g., roster billing, best practices, algorithms, calculator of outbreak costs) and urged that tools and resources be examined for opportunities to weave immunizations into other priorities for post-acute and long-term care facilities.

Other Things to Consider

The other recommended actionable items included: increase use of renewable consent documents; publish resident vaccination rates on facility websites; compile and share state law best practices; create sample score cards/dashboards/standing orders for facilities; work with legal consultants to clarify the why and how of consent; develop tips on staff incentives and processes (e.g., visual performance gauge, survey) and how to combine educational messages with strategy; and develop infomercials for staff and residents — use consistent messaging for all.

The recommendations and white paper will be used as the basis for future efforts in partnership with the National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit.

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