Serious health threats compel AMDA to issue pneumococcal vaccine guidance

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Streptococcus pneumoniae persists as a major health threat to long-term care residents despite nation-wide efforts to encourage vaccinations, according to AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

That threat spurred AMDA to publish a report on Thursday detailing the importance of vaccinations for residents, as well as guidance for long-term care providers to develop and implement pneumococcal vaccine policies in their facilities.

The report, included in the February issue of the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, illustrated several common barriers to implementing pneumococcal immunization programs in nursing homes. Among those barriers are provider skepticism, difficulties obtaining residents' vaccine histories, questions over Medicare reimbursement for the vaccines and the “complexity of vaccine recommendations.”

“Given the complexities of current ACIP pneumococcal vaccination recommendations and the unique features of PA/LTC settings, it is understandable that pneumococcal vaccinations pose a challenge to many PA/LTC providers,” the report reads. “Still, facilities will need to be familiar with specific indications for the vaccine and perform a thoughtful assessment of each resident.”

The vaccines are especially important for long-term care residents, whose age-related immune system changes may put them at greater risk for facility-wide outbreaks, AMDA said.

The group's push for improved vaccination rates include a series of educational tools for providers, such as vaccination guidance and coverage documents, and a resident vaccination assessment note to assist staff in completing resident pneumococcal vaccination assessments.

Click here to view the full AMDA report and guidance.