What did we learn this year? So much that the hardest part was getting it down to just these ten…
10. A Surprising Statistic on Flu Vaccinations
A new analysis of vaccination rates included this surprising result:
More Americans got a flu shot for this flu season than voted in the last Presidential election. 15 million more!
(CDC estimates that about 154 million got a flu shot during the past flu season, while the US Census Bureau estimated that 139 million people voted in the 2016 election for American President.)
9. STATE REGISTRIES: The “SINGLE VERSION OF TRUTH” for Vax Data
The phrase “single version of truth” is used in data management circles to represent the ideal: data available in one consistent, agreed upon form. STC has adopted that term for state registries as the standard for vax information.
Here is a map of progress in creating the single version of truth for immunization data. All the areas shaded in dark blue are now part of STC’s bi-directional IIS data exchange network. The network allows pharmacies, EHR and HIE systems to send and receive immunization data using the standards set by public health – oh-so-close to being solid blue.
8. School nurses: “The TSA of disease prevention”
STC Medical Advisor, Dr.Scott Hamstra pointed out for us, “the vaccinating of children is an overwhelming success, with fewer than 1% of American kids having gotten no vaccines at all.” A major contributor to that success are all the school requirements for immunizations, and it falls to school nurses to enforce those requirements, a time-consuming and thankless burden.
Now, however, the folks at PSNI (Professional Software for Nurses, Inc.) are taking away the tedium and generating thank-yous for their 10,000 SNAP Health Center software users. Tami Lariviere of PSNI describes how it’s working for a school nurse with PSNI software in a state that allows full information exchange with the state immunization registry via STC’s Immslink:
“In the same 2-3 minutes a school nurse used to spend inputting one record for one student, she can now push a button to query the immunization registry and all the student vaccines will import into SNAP in seconds. This can be done for an individual student, a classroom, a grade, or even the whole school at one time. And there’s no confusion about whether or not it’s the right form of the vaccine.
Full article at
7. ROAD TRIP! Time to Kick Employees Out of the Office?
There’s something about “ROAD TRIP!” that quickens the pulse. Scientific Technology Corporation’s CEO, Mike Popovich says, “Part of my job is to get people out of the office, to get them away from their cell phones, out from behind computer screens, out from the conference calls, and talk to people, face to face. You share ideas, you tell stories, and everyone is better off.”
To that end, Mike encouraged two STC veterans, Judy Merritt and Shannon Coleman, to head out on a road trip.They grabbed a hold of the idea and started with by visiting clients in three states in three days. Merritt says of the trip, “There is something different about the mindset when you shift from client visits to a road trip. Usually we meet with clients to address specific issues, or introduce a new service, but this was neither. This was about watching and listening and having our brains in full learning mode. No agenda but learning.”
And even though it was not a sales trip, the visit included a discovery of a potential new use of the data systems that STC creates for state agencies. The same knowledge that went into digitizing data for one agency could be readily adapted to another state program. Mike Popovich was particularly pleased to hear this idea, saying, “This is a chance to leverage an investment a state has already made. Most government projects are for a single purpose, but that doesn’t mean the components of a project couldn’t be used elsewhere. Doing so would save money and time while mightily increasing the likelihood of success.”
Full article at…
6. The Efficient Immunizer
Spend some time talking with Josh How land of PioneerRX and you’ll find yourself getting excited about being more productive: How can we use our time better? How can we eliminate time spent “staring at a blank wall”? How can we accomplish more with our resources?
Our favorite idea from Josh and his colleagues is what they call Med Sync. This is where they coordinate a customer-patient’s prescriptions so that the refills all fall on the same day of the month. This is a clear convenience for the patient, but it has a profound advantage for the efficient vaccinator. Josh explains:
“The pharmacist calls the patient the week before the prescriptions are to be picked up and they can say, ‘I see you need your flu vaccination. Why don’t you come at three next Tuesday and we’ll get that taken care of.’ The pharmacist picks a time when it’s not rushed for the patient or the pharmacist, so there will be time for a meaningful interaction.”He adds, “Adherence rates go up and the pharmacy can manage the inventory peaks and valleys.”
Notice that this doesn’t just smooth out inventory peaks and valleys but time peaks and valleys. The pharmacist takes the slowest part of the day — what Josh calls “time staring at blank walls” — and puts in highly productive tasks.
Full article at…
5. MY DAY IN JAIL (With a Vax Strike Team)
STC executive Tiffany Dent joined a strike team going into a prison to respond to an outbreak of Hepatitis A at the Jackson County Jail in Indiana.
Some of her surprises: “As we worked with the men, I learned that many large, intimidating guys were unabashedly afraid of needles. At the same time, I was pleased to find that all were unfailingly polite and we heard many a “Thank you, ma’am.” There was also an uncommon willingness to ask, “Can I get tested for HIV?” (They were referred for testing.) And there was one man who asked of the vaccination, “If I already have hepatitis, will this cure it?’”
Tiffany’s full report on her visit is available at:
4. HOW PHARMACY TECHS CAME TO ADMINISTER VACCINATIONS
December marks the two-year anniversary of the first legal vaccination by a pharmacy tech.
Like so many new ideas,the notion of pharmacy techs giving vaccinations was inspired by a question.That question came at a town hall-style meeting in Boise where the head of the Idaho Board of Pharmacy, Alex Adams, was out seeking input from pharmacists.One asked, “Why can’t my techs administer vaccines?” The questioner added, “I have a tech who works in a medical office in the morning and she can give shots, but then she comes to the pharmacy to work for me in the afternoon and it’s illegal.” Adams remembers thinking, “It had us scratching our heads – why not techs? After all, there are diabetics who are injecting themselves on a daily basis.”
So Adams and his team went to work and got approval for a pilot study. One of the people heading that study was Davin Patel, a pharmacist who’s gone on to become the national Patient Care Services Coordinator with Albertsons Companies. Patel put out a call for techs to volunteer for the training. No problem. “We had plenty of techs who were honored to go through the training,” he recalled. The techs went on to administer nearly a thousand vaccinations during the pilot study with no accidental needle sticks or any other adverse events.
That’s Davin, getting vaccinated
by a pharmacy tech
In March of last year, the Idaho legislature put a new law into effect, allowing pharmacy techs to administer vaccinations. Adams estimates that ‘techs have now given 25,000 vaccinations with zero complaints to the Board of Pharmacy.”
Adams offered his assessment of what happens next: “I see this as expanding rapidly. Rhode Island has already joined in and Utah is close.”
STC’s CEO, Mike Popovich, reacted to the discussion of the expanding role by pharmacy techs by saying,
“Who do we think of as experts? Computer techs. Auto techs. Now pharmacy techs.”
The full report is at https://stchealth.com/2018/11/27/whynot/
3. The STC NATIONAL FLU SCORE™
STC introduced a new tool in the fight against influenza: the STC National Flu Score™.
Using CDC data, this new flu scorecard creates an index to measure what is and is not working in seasonal flu vaccine programs. Dr. Scott Hamstra, STC’s Medical Director states, “Influenza is a tricky virus that ‘shifts’ each year and the brightest and best scientists on earth have been able to exceed 50% vaccine effectiveness just three times in the past 10 years.Effectiveness is one component of the new index. The second and third components are coverage rates — the percent of the adult and children populations that receives their annual flu shot. These three mesh together to protect our country against the flu.” The chart below shows the National Flu Score™ for each of the past ten flu seasons, expressed as a percentage of the 2025 goal established by Dr. Hamstra.
Converting these to letter grades is a meaningful way to show past performance and how much remains to be done. Our scores are not stellar:Four C’s (73%, 72%, 71% and 70%), Two D’s (67% and 65%) and four F’s below 60(58%, 55%, and 54% x 2). (The 2017-18 data are provisional.)
2. “The Vaccine Superhero”
What do kids know about vaccinations? Just one thing: THEY HURT! So we developed a new resource to educate and entertain kids as they wait to get vaccinated. It’s free and everyone loves the copyright: Permission to reprint is hereby given to anyone administering vaccines to children.
On one side of the“Vaccine Superhero” handout is a pair of cartoons and on the reverse side is the education part, a kid-friendly discussion of vaccinations by pediatrician Dr. Alok Patel of Columbia University.
The result it to provide a lively way to redefine immunizations: “It’s not a shot; it’s a superpower.”
The full discussion of the project, and downloads of The Vaccine Superhero are available at
1. Autism Research Enters the Debate Over the Role of Vaccines
A 2017 study found that 19% of Americans surveyed believed that some vaccines cause autism and another 29% said they didn’t knoweither way.
But we have a new ally in the debate with those who are anti-vaccination – autism research.
The old “correlation not causation” assertion, suggesting that the signs of autism just happen to show up about the time of many vaccines, specifically MMR, has failed to persuade some parents, and that’s understandable. However,thanks to new research, we have additional facts to bring to the conversation…
- Autism can often be detected prior to the MMR vaccine, and probably begins before birth.
- Many eager scientists have tried to find a link between vaccines and autism and have failed.Moreover, that there is no logical mechanism for vaccines to “turn on” autism,while a genetic connection makes sense.
- Autism organizations are supporters of vaccinations. (As for the last point, there’s a statement about vaccines on the website of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, a leader in autism treatment, education and research. This is the most visited page on their site. You can find it at….www.autismcenter.org/vaccines-and-autism )
The full report is available at: