The National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC), an expert body that advises the Department of Human Health and Services, has developed national standards with the goal of improving adult vaccination coverage for all vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). In 2014, NVAC published "Standards for Adult Immunization Practice." These recommendations call on all healthcare providers — whether they provide vaccinations in their healthcare settings or not — to take steps to help ensure that their adult patients are fully immunized. The four "Practice Standards for All Healthcare Professionals" are:
- ASSESS the vaccination status of your patients at every clinical encounter. For providers to do this, they and their clinic staff need to stay informed about the latest CDC vaccine recommendations for adults.
- STRONGLY RECOMMEND needed vaccines for your patients. Clinicians are known to be the most valued and trusted source of health information for adults. Research shows that most adults believe vaccines are important and that a recommendation from their healthcare professional is a key predictor of whether patients get needed vaccines.
- ADMINISTER recommended vaccines or REFER patients to a vaccination provider. Make vaccination services in your practice as convenient as possible for patients. If you do not stock certain vaccines or if you do not provide vaccines at all, refer your patients to a specific provider known to have available the needed vaccines. HealthMap Vaccine Finder is a free, online service where visitors can search for locations that offer immunizations. Enter your zip code at http://vaccine.healthmap.org.
- DOCUMENT the vaccines your patients receive, whether they are administered by you or elsewhere. Place that information in your state immunization registry, if you have one available. Also, be sure to give your patients a record of their vaccinations. This is particularly helpful when they see different providers for different health needs. If you send them to another provider, follow up with your patients to make sure they received the vaccines you recommended.
Resources to assist providers with implementation of these standards for adult immunization practice are available on the CDC website.
There are many more resources available from the Immunization Action Coalition to help vaccinate adults. Here are a few:
For Patients (Ready-to-copy handouts for your patients)
For Healthcare Professionals
Visit IAC’s Clinic Resources website on Adult Vaccination for additional materials.