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Children's National Study Shows How to Increase Immunization Compliance Rates

Washington, DC — A study released by Pediatrics in January 2012, showed that immunization rates at Children’s National’s Health Centers improved by 16 percent over a 20-month period as a result of systematic quality improvement interventions. Researchers at Children’s National employed a number of strategies to increase immunization compliance for children aged 19-35 months at six of Children’s National’s Health Centers located throughout the District.

National studies indicate that almost 1 in 4 children in the United States are not appropriately immunized and that children who live in poverty and in urban areas are more likely to be under-immunized. The work by the Children’s National primary care team focused on addressing that reality among very young children in the District. This study builds on successful efforts among school-aged children that resulted in the District having among the highest vaccination compliance rates in the nation for that population.

The quality improvement initiatives used to target very young children included parent education, patient and provider reminder outreach (calls and postcards), expanding access (including immunizing children during sick visits and holding immunization only clinics), and collaboration with community partners.

Results published this week indicate improvement in overall immunization compliance rates, improvement in on-time immunization rates, and sustained immunization rate gains. The study’s lead author, Linda Fu, MD, MS is a pediatrician with Children’s National. Explaining the significance of the study she said, “We found that pediatric health centers could in fact implement and sustain quality improvement efforts and drastically increase immunization rates for young children who, based on socio-demographic factors, were at greater risk of being under-vaccinated.

“Washington, DC, was once one of the lowest ranking cities with regard to immunization compliance,” said Denice Cora-Bramble, MD, MBA, FAAP, Senior Vice President of the Diana L. and Stephen A. Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health, Acting Vice President of Ambulatory Services at Children’s National and the study’s senior author. “Today, pediatricians who serve the District’s children are not only making significant strides in improving immunization rates here, we are also creating best practices other clinicians can replicate to improve health outcomes for children nationwide.”

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