9 Weeks to Health – America…Immunisations

Australia made a bold move some weeks ago in linking family payments to children’s immunisation status.  The lack of political rhetoric would indicate policy is finally aligned with some immutable and common goals.  People in every country I have visited have said they would welcome the same move.  So what next?

In New Zealand, Canada and America, the flu is seen as a major public health issue.  All countries have compulsory reporting of take-up levels, incentives and widely disseminated access including pharmacy outlets. In America the flu shot is an annual immunisation now required of the whole population.  Reporting is driving compliance to new highs.

The Hepatitis A Vaccine is also now part of the childhood immunisation schedule.  It is also more widely targeted in the adult population.  What is even more interesting is that Hepatitis C screening of adults born 1945 to 1965 is now mandatory.  Major public health viral clearance programs are scaling up across the country.  GPs are at the forefront of screening, treatment and ongoing monitoring.  Those so far engaged report huge satisfaction with the role.  Getting an “all clear” pathology report is a nice win to take home at the end of a busy clinic day.

The major support to drive all of this process is of course improved data systems and vastly improved administrative and clinical case management support.  Clinicians cannot do this sort of work alone. Medical Assistants are great at screening patients prior to contact with a primary care physician and ultimately delivering the vaccines. Other coordination staff have also been noted as a vital ingredient to raising the bar on screening and adherence with the 20 or more measures most of these health systems have adopted as core.  Should we get on the boat or be left at the dock on this one?

Tracey Johnson, General Manager, Inala Primary Care

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