Pneumonia and influenza combined are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States for adults over 65. Despite the fact that pneumococcal pneumonia and influenza are largely preventable by vaccination, only 67 percent of Medicare beneficiaries receive an annual influenza vaccination. Pneumococcal vaccination rates for the same population are even lower at 54 percent.
In New Mexico pneumonia is the most frequent admitting diagnosis for Medicare beneficiaries, with about 5,000 patients admitted each year. According to the 2003 New Mexico Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance system - an ongoing national telephone survey that asks a core set of questions about behaviors affecting risk for disease - 36.1 percent of adults 65 and older had never had a pneumococcal vaccination. This survey also showed that in the same population 27.6 percent had not been immunized against influenza in the past 12 months.
NMMRA's adult immunization work focuses on increasing influenza and pneumococcal vaccination rates for Medicare beneficiaries and health care personnel (HCP) in New Mexico. The goal is to increase rates in all settings by developing systems and processes to remind and encourage adults and HCP to receive routine vaccinations. NMMRA focuses outreach efforts on high-priority populations and works with clinicians to promote routine immunizations of their patients and HCP. Nursing homes, hospitals, home health agencies, and physician offices provide natural settings for increasing immunization rates.
NMMRA works with physician offices and outpatient clinics throughout New Mexico to encourage influenza and pneumococcal immunizations of Medicare beneficiaries and other high-priority patients. These efforts include assisting with the development of office protocols to remind and encourage adults to receive routine vaccinations, targeting outreach efforts to patients with the greatest risk, and sharing information about the importance of routine immunizations with patients. NMMRA also works to promote the importance of health care workers in clinical settings receiving annual influenza immunizations to protect their patients and minimize sick days during flu season.
Home Health Agencies
NMMRA works with home health agencies throughout New Mexico providing resources and tools about the importance of influenza and pneumonia immunizations, particularly for their elderly, chronically ill patients. NMMRA also distributes information for home health agency staff, encouraging them to get vaccinated to protect their vulnerable patients and themselves from influenza.
NMMRA works with nursing homes throughout New Mexico providing resources and tools about the importance of immunizing nursing home residents against influenza and pneumonia. NMMRA also distributes information to nursing home staff, encouraging them to get vaccinated to protect their vulnerable residents and themselves from influenza.
Pneumonia and influenza cause substantial morbidity and mortality for Medicare patients in the inpatient setting. Medicare provides a selection of tools that focus on changing processes of care designed to improve outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. NMMRA works closely with hospitals and provides materials, tools and training for staff to help achieve higher vaccination rates for patients and employees. Since immunization of HCP is an important factor in preventing transmission of influenza throughout the hospital setting and in reducing sick days for hospital staff, NMMRA supports hospitals in their efforts to promote this program with training, tools and up-to-date information.State and National Efforts
NMMRA works with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) to increase HCP vaccinations as part of its Health care-associated infections (HAI) initiatives. NMDOH also offers resources specific to New Mexico to assist providers in managing vaccination practices in various health care settings, including care guidelines, surveillance reports and educational tools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide the latest information on influenza and pneumococcal disease and immunizations including recommendations and guidelines, publications, surveillance and statistics and useful programs and tools.
New Mexico Medical Society Clinical Prevention Initiative
The Clinical Prevention Initiative (CPI), an effort of the New Mexico Medical Society, is working to increase pneumococcal vaccinations across New Mexico in at-risk groups. For more information on CPI, contact Joan Ford at (505) 828-0237.
Materials and Tools
NMMRA has compiled many resources to help organizations and practitioners in planning campaigns to immunize patients and health care workers against seasonal influenza. These resources specifically target patients and health care workers in nursing homes, home health agencies, hospitals and physician offices. Additionally, NMMRA provides useful tools including adult immunization tracking cards, posters, patient chart stickers, reminder letters and patient education materials to physician offices and clinics throughout the state to assist health care providers in increasing their rates for influenza and pneumococcal vaccination. Click here to see the materials and tools NMMRA has to offer.
For more information on NMMRA's work on adult immunizations, contact the Prevention Team.