Many Physicians Ignore Interim Guidelines for Hib Vaccine

Most pediatricians, family physicians aware of recommendations for shortage; some don't comply

MONDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Most primary care physicians who administer Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine are aware of interim recommendations for vaccine shortages -- including deferral of the vaccine booster for healthy 12- to 15-month-olds -- but many do not adhere to the recommendations, according to research published online April 19 in Pediatrics.

Allison Kempe, M.D., of the University of Colorado in Denver, and colleagues conducted an Internet survey among national samples of 373 primary care physicians (220 pediatricians and 153 family physicians) in April 2008.

According to the researchers, both pediatricians and family medicine physicians reported experiencing Hib vaccine shortages (73 and 45 percent, respectively); many had shortages significant enough to cause them to defer giving Hib vaccine to children aged 2 to 6 months at least 10 percent of the time (22 to 24 percent). Ninety-eight percent of pediatricians and 81 percent of family physicians were aware of the interim recommendations, and almost all knew the booster dose in healthy 12- to 15-month-olds should be deferred; however, 22 percent of pediatricians and 33 percent of family physicians reported not deferring the dose. The decision to ignore guidelines from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was more likely to occur if physicians felt their own office had an adequate supply of vaccine.

"The difficulties that vaccine shortages have imposed on primary care practices and the potential for losing ground in the very successful battles against once-prevalent infections such as Hib and pneumococcal disease point to the need for national policy efforts to stabilize vaccine supplies," the authors write.

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