OB/GYNs should play a more prominent role in encouraging routine immunization in all patients, said a committee opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
This expanded role should include a "strong recommendation" about the benefits of immunization for vaccine-preventable diseases such as HPV, influenza, and TDaP, as well as resources within the practice for vaccine storage and distribution.
Written by ACOG's Committee on Gynecologic Practice, Committee on Obstetric Practice and Immunization Expert Work Group, these recommendations were published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"Given demonstrated vaccine efficacy and safety, and the large potential for prevention of many infectious diseases that affect adults, pregnant women, and newborns, obstetrician–gynecologists should include immunizations as an integral part of their practice," the authors wrote.
While this is the first committee opinion specifically addressing the role of integrating immunizations into practice, ACOG has addressed the topic of immunization several times before in other committee opinions on the safety and efficacy of the TDaP vaccine, the influenza vaccine, and the HPV vaccine.
"Our patients use OB/GYNs as primary care physicians, which gives us the opportunity to re-enforce the need to immunize," co-author J. Martin Tucker, MD, of ACOG, told MedPage Today. "We have a duty to talk with each patient directly and recommend immunizations to them because they take our recommendations seriously."
The authors laid out a series of steps for OB/GYNs to better integrate immunizations recommendations into their practice, including using electronic medical records to determine when a patient is due for her immunizations, as well as educating and immunizing healthcare personnel and staff so they can "lead by example" for their patients.
They also suggest OB/GYNs educate themselves about local statutory requirements so they can institute standing orders for indicated immunizations (meaning they can be given without an individual physician's order).
ACOG offers a separate website to educate providers and their staff about appropriate coding and documentation required for vaccine reimbursement, which some OB/GYNs have reported as a barrier to implementing immunization services in their practices.
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