American College of Physicians urges physicians to talk vaccines

The American College of Physicians is urging all adults to get the annual influenza vaccination and to discuss their immunization records with their internist.

ACP is advising internists, family practitioners and all sub-specialists to make the most out of medical visits by conducting an immunization review and educating patients about the benefits of vaccination. They are being asked to refer to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule for additional guidance.

"Flu shots and other immunizations can prevent people from suffering serious illnesses," ACP's President, Dr. David L. Bronson said. "We need to improve immunization rates for all adults, especially for people between the ages of 18 to 65 with chronic conditions."

Only 39 percent of adults aged 18 years or older received a flu shot in 2011-2012.

In addition to the flu vaccine, ACP specifically recommends that physicians discuss the Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, whooping cough), HPV (human papillomavirus), herpes zoster (shingles), MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), pneumococcal pneumonia, hepatitis B (for adults with diabetes), and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines with their patients.

"It is also important for physicians to immunize themselves, their staff members, and other health care workers," Bronson said.

Physicians who administer immunizations should ensure that patients' records and documentation are kept up-to-date.