School-based vaccination clinics & adolescent vaccination in Alabama: An update
March 18, 2019
The Chapter has been in long conversations with the Alabama Department of Public Health leaders for more than a year now regarding their encouragement of school-based adolescent vaccination clinics and other alternative ways of delivering adolescent vaccinations outside the medical home. This push was borne out of the low rates of adolescent vaccinations, particularly HPV. Your Chapter leadership responded last year with a letter underscoring the importance of the medical home for adolescents and teens and strongly opposed any measure such as this that would further dwindle rates of teen well visits in Alabama. The school-based vaccination clinic program was already put in motion, however, in large part due to a legislative resolution that passed in 2018. ADPH did agreed to work with the Chapter by supporting the distribution of materials to parents of adolescents that emphatically educate them on the reasons why the teen visit is critical to the health of the whole child.
Last week, ADPH sent a reminder letter to all school districts about the school-based vaccination clinic program, which has spurred some pediatricians to contact their school districts in opposition. To clarify, the school nurses are helping to carrying out these programs under the direction of their school superintendents. We encourage you to collaborate with your local school superintendents on how best to address this issue; if you do so, please let the Chapter office know. You can also direct any comments to Scott Harris, MD, State Health Officer, at ADPH.
In addition, ADPH is looking at ways to increase the rates of adolescent immunizations by increasing the numbers of VFC providers, particularly in counties with high Medicaid children-to-VFC provider ratios. The Chapter is looking at ways to increase the numbers of VFC providers in these counties, but ADPH has indicated that they are “opening up” VFC provider status to a limited number of pharmacists in some of these counties. Again, the Chapter has strongly promoted the medical home in this regard.
We are looking for Chapter members with ideas on ways to address this in their communities: keeping adolescents coming to their medical homes while increasing rates of adolescent vaccination. Some of the ideas we are exploring include use of physician extenders from existing pediatric practices in counties that do not have a pediatrician or VFC provider. Please let Linda Lee know if you would like to join us in this important effort to increase access for adolescents and teens.