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Clinics take shot at boosting vaccination rates

Aug. 1, 2012

As part of a one-year pilot project to raise the vaccination rate, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin is teaming up with the Wauwatosa and Milwaukee health departments to operate a clinic in an effort to ensure children are up to date on their immunizations.

The hospital provides the space and referrals from doctors at their specialty clinics, everything from orthopedics to cardiology. If the Wisconsin Immunization Registry indicates the young patient is due for a shot, they will refer the child, Dr. Lyn Ranta said.

The clerical work, specifically updating the records in the registry, is being handled by the Wauwatosa Health Department. The nurses administering the vaccines come from the Milwaukee Health Department.

"It's a good example of teaming up to provide extra service to the community," Wauwatosa Health Director Nancy Kreuser said. "The idea is to catch people when they are already on site."

The immunization clinic opened last week and organizers expect to see a number of children coming through following back-to-school physicals and doctor visits, Ranta said. There will also be a push come fall to get everyone vaccinated against the flu, she added.

When Peggy Troy took the helm of Children's Hospital and Healthcare System as chief executive officer a few years ago, she challenged health care providers to improve vaccination rates. One of the methods has been to make sure children staying in the hospital are up-to-date with vaccines before being discharged.

The idea was to replicate that on an outpatient basis, Ranta said.

"We thought, 'Let's try to bring the Health Department here,' " she said. "They're great at that; this is their mission."

Specialty doctors will continue to encourage parents to take their children to primary care physicians or visit the Health Department for immunizations. But due to busy lifestyles, filled doctor appointment schedules and patients who don't have a primary doctor, that doesn't always happen, Ranta said.

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