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Reminders improve vaccination rates: APNA

An efficient reminder system might be pivotal to improving the low pneumococcal vaccination rates among Australians 65 and over.

A survey by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) revealed that while many general practices do have a vaccination reminder system in place, even more practices simply wait for older patients – who are at risk for the disease – to show up at the doctor’s office for their annual flu shots, before recommending this crucial vaccine.

“For many [seniors], protection against vaccine-preventable diseases is paramount to their on-going health, but also to their safety. So it’s very important,” APNA president Karen Booth said.

There are no consistent systems in place across the nation to keep the senior population aware of their options. Booth stressed that an automated recall system would make it much easier for both healthcare professionals and patients to maintain efficient immunisation cover.

“We're on the radar for children's vaccines, but hopefully we'll soon be moving to an all-of-life register,” Booth said. “[It’s important] to see that same energy and application that's given to childhood vaccines given to adult vaccines, and to be in the mindset of checking that adults, particularly at-risk groups, have the best protection they can get.”

Patient reminder and recall systems have proven effective in increasing vaccination rates in other countries, including Canada. Patients who received reminders about due or overdue vaccines were much more likely to be immunised, compared with  those who received no reminder.

Booth stressed the major role healthcare professionals such as nurses play in achieving an effective recall system: “The important thing, particularly for the role of nurses in general practice and in other community health settings where they have nurse immunisers, is that they're proactive in their approach. To keep it on the radar.”

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