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In March, the Chapter leadership learned that the Alabama Department of Public Health had reached out to school superintendents, encouraging the administration of adolescent vaccinations – Tdap, Meningococcal and HPV – via vaccine clinics carried out in schools (much like the flu vaccination clinics already administered). The Chapter leadership immediately responded with a letter and a face-to-face meeting with the State Health Officer to underscore the importance of the medical home and comprehensive well visits for adolescents.

In late March/early April, the Chapter was also able to successfully advocate that the Governor not sign a legislative resolution that encourages schoolbased vaccination so that there would not be any legislative mandates on the table.

Meanwhile, ADPH Immunization’s current goal is to increase state adolescent rates, especially for HPV. The current rate of up-todate HPV vaccination in Alabama is 18 percent and overall, the adolescent rate is 19 percent. The Chapter subsequently met with ADPH representatives, Department of Education staff and those representing mass school vaccinators to sort through ways to encourage the medical home and increase vaccination rates at the same time. Although it was clear that vaccination of adolescents in schools will move forward as part of the mix to increase vaccination rates, Chapter leaders were able to drive home the importance of protecting the medical home and the need for communication between primary care pediatricians and the schools if vaccines are administered outside of the medical home. Chapter Executive Director will be working with ADPH on the details of this communication. It’s important to note here that for VFC providers, point-of-service use of ImmPRINT for all vaccines is now required, with ADPH planning to require it for all providers soon.

Partners at the meetings also agreed to push out information to parents and teens on the importance of seeing their doctor throughout adolescence.

To that end, the Chapter is working with the Alabama Child Health Improvement Alliance (ACHIA) and adolescent pediatricians at UAB on a statewide flier for teens/ parents that simply states why the adolescent teen visit is so important. The flier will be part of a larger campaign, for which the Chapter hopes to partner with ADPH, that will parallel ACHIA’s 2019 quality improvement collaborative on the adolescent visit. The name for both: #StayWell!

Also as part of this initiative, the Chapter is exploring advocacy for the medical home among students who play sports and only receive the required sports physical, which we maintain, is not a substitute for comprehensive adolescent care.

This article first appeared in the Second Quarter 2018 Edition of the Alabama Pediatrician Newsletter.See full newsletter here.