Vaccination in older adults is an important step in preventive care, particularly as those individuals’ immune responses decline. A new study of two nurse practitioner-managed clinics may hold the key to improving uptake of vaccines in this population.
And while the study occurred in this environment, the clinics employed practices for more than a decade that may help improve compliance across primary care.
In a report titled “Comparison of immunization rates of adults ages 65 years and older managed within two nurse practitioner–owned clinics with national immunization rates,” published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, researchers reviewed vaccination records for 150 seniors aged 65 and older from two nurse practitioner-managed clinics. Five vaccines were reviewed including tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis; influenza; pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine 23; pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 13; and the herpes zoster vaccine.
The review revealed that clinics had higher immunization rates than the national average for all five vaccines, with herpes zoster administration exceeding the goals set by the federal Healthy People 2020 initiative.
Wendy L. Wright, FNP, FAANP, FAAN, an adult and family nurse practitioner and lead author of the report, said vaccination compliance among older adults is critical.
“This is a vulnerable population. We must find ways to ensure vaccinations in this group. Medicare does pay for these vaccines, but practices must understand the mechanisms by which the billing needs to be done,” Wright told Medical Economics. “Implementing a comprehensive vaccine strategic plan can significantly increase vaccine rates.”