Updated September 2019
Connecting with programs/places where children congregate, such as schools, Head Start and other early care and education programs, community centers, before- and after-school programs, camps, youth-sports organizations, and other programs providing care to children is important and provides opportunities for health professionals to provide accurate information about influenza (flu) vaccine and promote the need for everyone, especially high-risk populations, to get vaccinated every year.
Consider starting to plan for the next flu season and share information towards the end of the previous school year, as this tends to be a less stressful time for schools and pediatric practices.
At the end of the school year, obtain contact information for school nurses and medical directors in your local schools. Reach out to them to inquire if you can have a flu vaccine flier included in new student packets, hung in the school office, or included in a back-to-school newsletter. Assure the school and nurse/medical director that you will not be advertising for your practice, and convey that your plan is to provide general informational on the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccine, with instructions to contact the child's local physician.
Do the same for after-school programs, childcare centers, Mother's-Day-Out facilities, and camps or youth-sport associations, such as the YMCA. The task can be daunting, especially in larger cities, but it will be a summer project well worth the effort. Start by deciding on a mile-radius you will focus on and try to obtain as complete a listing of community partners as you can. If you collect school and before- and after-school care information on your patients at well visits, you should be able to run a report that can provide you with the schools or programs used by the most patients in your office. The first time you create your list of community programs to connect with will be the toughest; subsequent years get easier.
Designate a "Flu Vaccine Expert" at your practice setting. This should be an appropriately qualified staff member who can serve as a contact person for the schools and community organizations to which you have reached out, to address questions on flu vaccine availability, safety/efficacy, vaccine shortages, dose recommendations, and so forth.
Serve as a resource for community vaccination programs, such as a school-based or school-located vaccination clinics, community health fair, or mobile flu clinic. There is much to help these programs consider:
If patients will be offered vaccine outside of the medical home, practices need to adjust orders accordingly, to avoid having excess doses that were not administered in the practice office.
It is critically important to emphasize that a child, age 6 months through 8 years of age, who is vaccinated for flu for the first time (and needs 2 doses) at a community vaccination program receive a referral for where to obtain a second dose, should a second dose be needed.
Proper vaccine storage and handling practices must be followed in all offices and other facilities where vaccines are administered, including mobile locations.
Providers vaccinating at a community vaccination program must be appropriately trained (eg, appropriate needle gauge and length).
Parental consent for each child to be vaccinated will need to be properly documented in the child's medical record.
The appropriate Vaccine Information Statements will need to be distributed and vaccine administration appropriately documented.
Consider asking patients and families if they or their children have received an influenza vaccine outside of your office. All vaccines received outside of the medical home should still be documented in the patient record and the immunization information system.