FRIDAY, Dec. 30, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A nurse-driven protocol for improving pneumococcal vaccination rates in immunosuppressed patients is associated with significant increases in vaccination rates, according to a study published online Dec. 1 in The Journal of Rheumatology.

Elena K. Joerns, M.D., from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues assessed the feasibility of implementing a nurse-driven pneumococcal vaccination protocol in an academic rheumatology clinic. Vaccination rates were compared for 2019 versus postimplementation in 2021.

The researchers found that creating a pneumococcal vaccination protocol as a standing medical order to be implemented by the nursing staff was associated with a significant increase in the average rate of monthly vaccination with either pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (4.3 percent in 2019 to 12.6 percent in 2021). Similarly, the proportion of patients who were fully vaccinated increased from 14.6 to 26.2 percent.

“In people who take immunosuppressant drugs to treat chronic inflammatory conditions, pneumococcal infections are more likely to be severe due to the weakened immune system. These patients often don’t have a lot of time during their clinic visits because they’re dealing with other complex issues, and there is a lack of awareness and knowledge about these vaccines,” Joerns said in a statement. “Our data showed that this protocol, which shifts vaccination to be standardized and done as part of patient check-in, allows vaccination to be completed more efficiently and effectively.”

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