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Immunization helps with overall health Special To The Star-news | Sat, Oct 09 2010 12:00 PM

(NAPSA) - Whether it's updating children's immunizations before school or getting them immunized against seasonal viruses, it's important for parents and medical professionals alike to make sure children in their communities are up-to-date with their immunizations.

To help, the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation (AAFP Foundation), through a grant from Pfizer Inc, recognizes family medicine residency programs that are developing solutions to improve childhood immunization rates-that may be helpful to families everywhere.

"Keeping children and adults safe from some of the world's most deadly diseases is easily done with one of the most effective health care tools ever developed: vaccinations," says Dr. Richard Roberts, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation. "Making sure that children are immunized at the right age makes our entire community a healthier place to live. We hope the positive changes put in place by the residency programs will inspire other physicians and their office staffs to improve their immunization systems, too."

One of the award winners is the Western Reserve Care System Family Medicine Residency in Youngstown, Ohio. Director Lisa Weiss, M.D., FAAFP, and her team won the "Most Improved" award for improving their immunization system and, in turn, increasing immunization rates in their community. The program was a recipient of last year's "System Implementation" grant to fund ideas proposed by the program, demonstrating the impact of creative ideas, commitment and support from grants such as these. The program faced several challenges-including the community's low socioeconomic status and poor insurance coverage-that contributed to childhood immunization rates of only 72 percent. It was crucial for Weiss and her team to involve everyone in the program to better serve the health of the entire community.

Within one year, the residency program increased rates by 17 percent to 89 percent.

For more information, including a tip sheet of best practices from past winners, please visit www.aafpfoundation.org/immunizationawards.

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