Washington, DC — The importance, safety and efficacy of immunization against vaccine preventable diseases is well established. However, national vaccination rates lag behind public health goals. As women’s health care providers, obstetrician-gynecologists are uniquely positioned as a source of information and recommendations on immunization and reducing morbidity and mortality from a range of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Today, in a new Committee Opinion, “Integrating Immunizations Into Practice,” the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) outlines the steps ob-gyns and other women’s health care providers can take to educate and vaccinate their patients.
Because many studies show that recommendation from an ob-gyn or other health care provider on immunization is one of the best influences on patient acceptance, the Committee Opinion urges ob-gyns to speak with each patient directly and strongly recommend indicated immunizations. Other recommendations include highlighting the benefits of immunization for a patient and her family while also addressing the risk of not immunizing. Given the large potential for prevention of many infectious diseases, including pertussis, influenza, human papillomavirus, and hepatitis, along with the demonstrated efficacy and safety of vaccination, ob-gyns should include immunizations as an integral part of their practice. When provided to women during pregnancy, vaccines for certain diseases like influenza and pertussis also protect infants until they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves.
“Helping our patients make informed decisions about vaccination is an essential part of our specialty,” stated J. Martin Tucker, member of ACOG’s Immunization Expert Work Group and lead author of the Committee Opinion. “We must embrace this role, increase awareness and work to enhance immunization uptake.”
Committee Opinion #661, “Integrating Immunizations Into Practice,” is published in the April issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.