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ACP-ASIM Pressroom

Group Will Provide Practice Tools to Improve Adult Immunization Rates

ACP-ASIM Announces Adult Immunization Initiative

October 25, 2000

Washington, DC—The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) has begun a physician education and information initiative for internal medicine practice that seeks to improve the rates of adult immunization against influenza, pneumonia and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty society, with 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Its three-year immunization initiative will include physician education components, tools to incorporate immunization into office systems, and advocacy for adequate reimbursement from third-party payers for the costs of vaccines and their administration.

"As specialists in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses that affect adults, internists want to make sure that all our at-risk patients are protected against vaccine-preventable disease, particularly influenza and pneumococcal infections such as pneumonia," said Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, president of ACP-ASIM, at a press conference today. The press conference, sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the National Coalition for Adult Immunization, calls for using the first supplies of influenza vaccine for high-risk patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 20,000 people, mostly over age 65, die from complications of the flu during epidemics. Every year, more than 10,000 people die from pneumococcal infections.

ACP-ASIM urges physicians to discuss appropriate vaccines and their safety and cost-effectiveness with their adult patients, especially the elderly and women of childbearing age, and to make sure that they have been vaccinated against childhood diseases such as measles, chicken pox, rubella and mumps. The cornerstone of the College's campaign will be publication of the fourth edition of its handbook, Guide for Adult Immunization. Since 1985, when the first edition of the Guide was published, internists, health departments, college health centers and others managing adult health have turned to the book for guidance on vaccines for young and older adults. The College will also direct the new edition to health professionals working in managed care settings, the places where many Americans now receive health care.

A practice management tool kit will help physicians integrate vaccination into their practices, for example, by building reminders into patient records and office data management systems. Unlike the childhood immunization schedule, specific groups of adults are targeted for vaccines, so physicians may need special management tools to identify appropriate risk groups and maintain immunization records. The College will distribute the tool kit to the some 50,000 ACP-ASIM members who practice general internal medicine. Special educational sessions are being developed for the College's premier education event, the ACP-ASIM Annual Session, which usually attracts more than 5,000 internists. The ACP-ASIM initiative on adult immunization is sponsored by a grant from the Merck

Contact: Susan C. Anderson, 215-351-2653 or 800-523-1546, ext. 2653

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