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Atlantic Health Center Receives Pediatric Immunization Award

The Atlantic Health Center's pediatric clinic team of Debbie Davis, Certified Nurse Practitioner, Fran Grafton, RN, and Julie Koenig, RN, have been selected for a 2009 Childhood Immunization Excellence Award from the Maryland Childhood Immunization Partnership (MCIP). They are among only fifteen practices in the state to receive this award.

It’s been a goal in the U.S. to improve vaccine compliance. In the past, vaccines were not provided free of charge to those who were unable pay for them. Compliance was often financially linked to those children who were insured or to those who could afford to pay. The cost of vaccines was often times prohibitive to children who were the most vulnerable. The MMR vaccine, for example, costs more than $100.

After review of vaccine administration records and with the effort of many advocate groups, the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) was introduced. The program, which has been in place for more than 10 years, provides free vaccines to offices that have pediatric patients, helping get more children vaccinated.

Even with the free vaccines, compliance is not always easy to achieve. A mild cold resulting in a missed vaccine or missed well check appointment often prevents children from receiving their immunizations on schedule. Missed opportunities to correct this, such as when a child comes in later for a mild illness, are often overlooked if the staff does not vigilantly check the child's record.

At the Atlantic Health Center, the program is successful based largely on the dedication of the pediatric team to administer the vaccines and to keep and monitor records effectively. Registered nurse Fran Grafton, a provider with fifteen years of experience, has taken the lead in ordering the vaccines, monitoring the children's records and assisting in the audits of the program. Registered nurse Julie Koenig, primary nurse to pediatric nurse practitioner Debbie Davis, monitors the immunization records of the children that present for appointments other than scheduled vaccines At the Atlantic Health Center, every vaccine record is closely monitored, even at sick visits, to try to catch up those who are behind. In addition, every effort is made to get records from schools and prior providers if the record is not available at the office.

“The pediatric team at the Atlantic Health Center works in a coordinated effort to ensure effective and proactive treatment for the area’s littlest and most vulnerable population,” said Deborah Wolf, the center’s manager. “I congratulate them on a job well done."