The following article is part of coverage from the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Annual Meeting (NAPNAP 2020). Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Association made the necessary decision to cancel their meeting originally scheduled for March 25-28, 2020, in Long Beach, CA, and rescheduled the event to a virtual meeting held June 4-5, 2020. Readers can click here to catch up on the latest research intended to be presented at the meeting.
School-based health centers reduced the number of students excluded from school for under-immunization, according to an abstract presented during the National Association of Nurse Practitioners Annual Meeting (NAPNAP 2020)
After the Pennsylvania Department of Health amended school immunization laws in 2017 to align with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the time students were given to have all their immunizations was shortened from 8 months to 5 days. To prepare for a large influx of vaccinations, the Scranton School District in northeastern Pennsylvania created immunization clinics in coordination with a local community health center to operate school-based health centers throughout the district.
“Although the purpose was to improve the overall health and well-being of the students, access to healthcare and provision of vaccines was a concern,” reported Allyson Favuzza, DNP, CRNP, FNP-C, of Main Street Pediatrics of Greater Scranton, in Dickson City. “Many students faced exclusion from school due to under-immunization status.”
From July 2017 to September 2017, 5 school-based health centers were held at 3 schools based on geographic location within the district staffed with nurse practitioners, resident physicians, nurses, medical assistants and administrative support staff. The school-based health center provided all state mandated vaccines and recommended vaccines based on age. The school-based health centers were able to offer the vaccines free of charge to uninsured and Medicaid-eligible children as part of the Vaccines for Children program. Electronic health records including demographic information were created for registered patients.
Immunization records were reviewed by nurse practitioners to recommend age-specific vaccinations and parents were counseled on the advised vaccines and consent was obtained. After immunizations were prepared and administered, each patient was given a record of the vaccines they received; these records were uploaded to the Pennsylvania statewide immunization database.
The school-based health centers provided 1110 vaccines; 438 patients were successfully immunized during the clinic, which minimized the number of students excluded from school because of under-immunization. Of 438 patients, 332 were Vaccines for Children eligible and more than half of the patients also received the seasonal influenza vaccine.
“The developed protocol can be easily replicated in school-based health centers across the country,” researchers concluded.
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Favuzza A, Kraky K. Implementation of school-based immunization clinics in response to state mandates. Presented virtually at: NAPNAP 2020; June 4-5, 2020. Abstract TH5.