Pneumococcal Vaccination: Public Outreach Makes Significant Difference


Sixty-seven million at-risk Americans remain unvaccinated for pneumococcal disease

Sixty-seven million at-risk Americans remain unvaccinated for pneumococcal disease. More than one-half of individuals who develop pneumococcal disease in the United States are unvaccinated adults. Pharmacists in Rhode Island set out to raise awareness of the pneumococcal vaccination using a statewide pharmacist-led initiative.

In a state that had higher rates of invasive pneumococcal disease than the regional and national average, pharmacists created an educational campaign to increase knowledge and awareness of pneumococcal immunization recommendations.

The researchers conducted their statewide study—published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association—by creating an up-to date vaccination pathway guide. This pathway guide helped providers increase their knowledge about patient populations for which the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the vaccines.

In addition to increasing provider knowledge, the researchers conducted public education campaigns by:

  • placing public service announcements were made on radio stations
  • conducting participation and outreach at public health events
  • creating pneumococcal vaccination patient handouts for patients, and
  • making wallet-sized cards for patients that record vaccination status for multiple immunizations and important medical information.

Now it all boils down to whether this multifaceted intervention approach works for immunizations. And the short answer is yes!

Researchers saw a significant increase in vaccinations (3.9%), a 5% decrease in patient mortality in the hospital, and an overall decrease in the number of pneumococcal cases. Before the study was conducted, Rhode Island had about 20 more cases of invasive pneumococcal disease than the national average. Post-intervention, the number of cases was at a similar rate.

What can pharmacists do to mitigate the large disparity in vaccination rates? Follow Rhode Island's lead. Pharmacists need to raise disease awareness. Face-to-face education for prescribers is critical. Pharmacists must also create and distribute patient resources broadly, emphasizing the danger of being unvaccinated and who should receive a vaccine.

Active outreach makes our communities safe.


Caffrey AR, DeAngelis JM, Ward KE, et al; Rhode Island Pharmacy Pneumococcal Vaccination Education Group. A pharmacist-driven academic detailing program to increase adult pneumococcal vaccination. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2017 Sep 23. pii: S1544-3191(17)30838-5. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2017.08.010. [Epub ahead of print]

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