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8/17/2000

Health Plans Commit to Single Vaccination Message

Cheryl A. Thompson

To improve vaccination rates and send health care providers a consistent message, 12 Massachusetts health plans and integrated delivery systems endorsed immunization guidelines developed by the state's public health department.

The endorsement, announced April 26 by the Massachusetts Health Quality Partnership, means that physicians and nurse practitioners will receive a single set of immunization guidelines covering children and adults. Before the agreement, each health plan would mail its guidelines on its own letterhead stationery, said Executive Director Barbra G. Rabson, forcing practitioners to sort out the differences, if any. 

The partnership's effort to develop preventive health guidelines began a year ago. Participating groups started with immunization "because that's where there's the most agreement," said Rabson. Also under development are guidelines for secondary prevention of acute myocardial infarction, but there has been a lot of disagreement about the content, she said. 

This collaboration marks the first time the state's public health department has issued immunization guidelines for adults, Rabson said. Noteworthy among the recommendations is the minimum age, 50, at which adults should be vaccinated annually against influenza. The guidelines reflect a recent change by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which previously recommended a minimum age of 65.