Vaccination Safety

May 14, 2018 | Ambulatory Care Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Providers are frequently asked, why vaccinate? Vaccinations are an important tool in building immunity to prevent the sickness, disability, and death that can result from infectious diseases and illnesses, such as chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, influenza, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella. (CDC "Why Immunize?")

Today, we hear less about the complications associated with certain infectious diseases and illnesses because vaccination programs have been successful in greatly reducing their occurrence. In the United States, immunization has prevented millions of hospitalizations and spared thousands of lives, according to CDC (CDC "Report").

Physicians are on the front line in ensuring the success of vaccination programs, addressing questions and concerns from patients and the parents of children receiving vaccinations. They may encounter patients or parents who choose to delay or refuse vaccines.

As with any medication, errors can occur during the prescription, preparation, handling, storage, or administration of vaccines. Vaccination errors may affect not only the patient receiving the vaccine but also others who are exposed to the patient if infectious diseases reemerge.

The large number of vaccines administered in ambulatory settings puts physician practices at risk for vaccine-related errors. Following recommended immunization schedules, a child will likely receive more than 50 doses of vaccines by the time he or she is 18 years old. Options for vaccination continue into adulthood with annual influenza and pneumonia vaccines, booster shots, and more, depending on a person's age, sex, travel plans, and special needs.

The safe administration of vaccines depends on healthcare staff who are trained and educated on proper storage and handling of vaccines, correct techniques for vaccine reconstitution and administration, and appropriate timing of vaccine administration according to evidence-based vaccine schedules. Physician practices can help staff avoid errors by adopting systems...

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