Vaccination Rates Low Among Patients with Diabetes

Pharmacists should double-check that patients with diabetes are vaccinated against hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease, and influenza.

Pharmacists should double-check that patients with diabetes are vaccinated against hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease, and influenza.

New research published in Clinical Diabetes has uncovered low vaccination rates among patients with diabetes, which is especially concerning because they face greater risk for infection.

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of immunizations in patients with diabetes in order to assess adherence and evaluate predictors of vaccination.

Study author Matthew J. Alcusky, PharmD, told Pharmacy Times that he routinely discussed immunizations with patients and the care team during an experimental rotation as an intern in a hospital setting. In doing so, he noticed an obvious need to determine protocols for patients with diabetes in particular because of their high risk for infection.

The researchers found that nonadherence to immunization recommendations runs rampant among patients with diabetes. Despite the 2011 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendation to immunize patients with diabetes against hepatitis B, no patients in the study had previously received a hepatitis B vaccine.

The pneumococcal vaccination rate for patients with diabetes was more or less aligned with the national estimate, but the influenza immunization rate was slightly lower than expected.

“Pharmacists have long been active in increasing vaccine adherence among patients with diabetes, as well as in the broader population,” Dr. Alcusky said. “…Across care settings, the identification and immunization of high-risk patients, such as those with diabetes, represents one of many important pharmacist activities within a collaborative and accountable care paradigm.”

Dr. Alcusky pointed out that patients are seeking convenient access to care in both retail pharmacies and clinics because of the shift to consumer-driven and patient-centered health care models.

“Pharmacists have regular contact with patients and are permitted to administer vaccines in all 50 states,” he noted. “Immunization represents an opportunity for pharmacists to engage patients outside of a traditional dispensing role and to provide preventive services that are critical to population health.”