UAMS, American College of Physicians Collaborate To Increase Adult Immunization Rates in Arkansas

By Kelly Gardner

The initiative will assist physicians and other health care providers in protecting their patients from vaccine-preventable diseases by providing tools for communicating with their patients about the importance of immunizations and by tracking and providing access to vaccines.  The partner organizations announced the kickoff of the program at a meeting of I Raise the Rates Immunization Champions in New Orleans on May 15.

“These concerned physicians who have volunteered to be Immunization Champions are the key to helping all physicians and their health care teams protect their patients from preventable illnesses and even death,” said Bernie Rosof, M.D., program co-chair and national quality expert. “Research has shown that patients trust their physicians most when it comes to immunizations; a physician’s recommendation is the strongest predictor of vaccination,” Rosof said.

At this week’s meeting, participants will be discussing strategies for helping health care providers in Arkansas meet national public health goals. While vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements of all time in protecting people from disease, current rates in Arkansas for recommended adult vaccines are well below national CDC recommendations and exhibit large racial disparities.  According to the CDC, one-¬‐third or more of Arkansas seniors have not received a flu or pneumonia vaccine; among African Americans the rates are even higher.

“We have a great deal of work to do to help protect Arkansans from flu, pneumonia, and other preventable diseases like whooping cough, herpes zoster, tetanus and others,” says Robert Hopkins, M.D., director of the UAMS Division of General Internal Medicine and co-leader of the Arkansas project.  “By working with the physicians in our state, along with other health care providers, we can significantly improve the health of our patients in Arkansas.”

“The Arkansas ACP is proud to be taking a leadership role in helping protect our patients’ health,” said Omar T. Atiq, M.D., who leads the Arkansas chapter of the ACP. Atiq serves as director of the Head and Neck Medical Oncology Service and associate director of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and director of Bone Marrow Service at the UAMS Myeloma Institute. “We look forward to working with our partners at UAMS, the health department, and the Arkansas Pharmacist Association, to make sure that every person in our state receives the appropriate vaccines to help them stay healthy.”

Over the course of the next year, physicians and other health care providers throughout the state of Arkansas will receive training on immunizations, implement programs in their offices and institutions, and communicate with employers, health insurers, and the public about the importance of adult immunizations.  This program will also cultivate working relationships between non-¬‐immunizing providers such as community clinics to local pharmacies or other vaccine providers to ensure all Arkansans can be protected from vaccine-preventable disease.

To learn more about I Raise the Rates: Arkansas or to join the campaign, please contact: Eric Crumbaugh at

ACP is the largest medical specialty organization and second largest physician group in the United States. Its membership of 141,000 includes internists, internal medicine subspecialists, and medical students, residents, and fellows.

The Arkansas Pharmacists Association, founded in 1882, is the statewide professional association representing approximately 2,200 pharmacists in Arkansas.  APA strives to further the professional advancement of pharmacists, advocate the value of pharmacy, and safeguard the health and well-¬‐being of every Arkansan.  Its mission is to advance a professional and business environment for Arkansas pharmacists to be successful and fulfilled in serving patients.

The Arkansas Immunization Action Coalition is a statewide group of health care providers and public and private sector stakeholders whose mission is to “Serve as a catalyst to promote individual and public health for all Arkansans through immunizations.” This group intends to accomplish this through identifying existing immunization initiatives in the state, encouraging collaboration between all health care professionals, raising the public’s awareness of vaccine-preventable disease, educating health care providers on immunizations, increasing the use of the immunization information system in Arkansas.