Objective: Barriers to influenza vaccination negatively impact immunization rates contributing to the morbidity and mortality from influenza. This study sought to determine if 1) the availability of year-round scheduling of annual autumn/winter influenza vaccination was associated with improved immunization rates for 2 high-risk populations of children and 2) this system was associated with early season vaccine administration. Methods: A retrospective cohort analysis was utilized to compare immunization rates during the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 seasons. Billing records were used to determine eligible patients and vaccine receipt. A single, pediatric practice was studied, and two groups of patients were analyzed: 1) infants aged 6-23 months and 2) children <21 years old with asthma. As opposed to Year 1, in Year 2 appointments in "flu clinics" for the following autumn became available 7 months prior to when vaccine became available. Patients and providers could therefore schedule an immunization appointment throughout the year. Results: In Year 1, 552/1365 (40.4%) infants received at least 1 dose of influenza vaccine compared to 940/1265 (74.3%) in Year 2 (p < 0.001). For patients with asthma, 309/1332 (23.2%) received at least 1 dose of vaccine in Year 1 compared with 522/1489 (35.1%) in Year 2 (p <0.001). Both groups also achieved higher immunization rates between September and November in Year 2 (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Year-round scheduling of influenza vaccination was associated with improved immunization rates in two high-risk populations, and may remove the barrier of scheduling difficulty, allow for a consistent year-round message from providers, and improve timing of vaccine administration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health