Objective. To assess current practices and attitudes among pediatricians and family physicians across the United States regarding Immunizations.
Design. Survey of a random sample of pediatricians and family physicians.
Subjects. Fellows of the American Academy of Pediatrics (N = 746) and American Academy of Family Medicine (N = 429).
Survey topics. General Immunization practices (eg, types of visits during which vaccinations are provided, mechanisms to identify undervaccinated children); and opinions about perceived barriers to immunizations, acceptance of alternative sites for immunizations, and possible immunization requirements for Medicaid and The Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Results. Pediatricians and family physicians (combined) reported the following Immunizing children during acute illness visits (28%), follow-up visits (90%), and chronic illness visits (77%); using computer or reminder files to identify undervaccinated children (13%); and simultaneously administering four vaccines (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, oral poliovaccine, measles, mumps, and rubella and Haemophilus influenzae type b) to an eligible 18-month-old child (66%). Physicians perceived the following as barriers to immunizations missed preventive visits (40%), vaccine costs (24%), lack of insurance coverage (24%), inability to track undervaccinated patients (22%), incomplete immunization records (12%), and missed vaccination opportunities (12%). Physicians agreed with offering vaccinations during hospitalizations (51%) or emergency department visits (30%), and with immunization requirements for continued eligibility for Medicaid (66%) or WIC (64%). Pediatricians were more likely to vaccinate during chronic illness and follow-up visits, and were more likely to use systems to track undervaccinated children (P < .05); however, most immunization practices and attitudes of pediatricians and family physicians were similar. Physicians who graduated from medical school more recently and those in high-risk urban practices were more likely to vaccinate during acute illness visits, provide simultaneous vaccinations, and favor vaccinations in hospital settings.
Conclusions. Vaccination rates might be Improved by closer adherence to current immunization guidelines regarding vaccinations during all encounters and simultaneous vaccinations, by developing systems to identify undervaccinated children, and by reducing patient costs for vaccinations. Current immunization practices fall short of the immunization guidelines; changes in individual practice styles will be required to conform with these standards.
- Received October 21, 1993.
- Accepted March 15, 1994.
- Copyright © 1994 by the American Academy of Pediatrics