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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2001 Jun;20(6):561-5.

Strict interpretation of vaccination guidelines with computerized algorithms and improper timing of administered doses.

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Division of Endocrinology, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Frequently changing immunization recommendations may lead to incorrectly administered doses.


To determine the incidence and characteristics of inappropriately timed vaccinations.


Prospectively collected immunization histories of patients <5 years old from well-child care encounters with pediatric residents in a large urban clinic during a 3-month study period. New patients or those with no immunization history in the medical record were excluded. Paper records were verified before each visit and served as the immunization history. Immunization records were entered into and analyzed by the Massachusetts Immunization Information System with strict interpretation of minimum spacing and age guidelines to identify invalid vaccine doses. Reasons for invalidity were determined by manual review. Invalid doses were cross-referenced with clinic schedule to determine who delivered doses.


Inclusion criteria were met by 690 encounters. Charts were available for review before the encounter for 580, containing 6983 total immunizations. Of these 289 (4.1%) administered doses were invalid; 206 of 580 (35.5%) patients had at least one invalid dose. Common invalid doses given were unnecessary poliovirus vaccine around 18 months (n = 66) and second hepatitis B vaccine given too soon after the first (n = 53). All types of providers gave invalid doses; pediatric residents and fellows delivered significantly more (P < 0.01).


By strict interpretation of immunization guidelines, many patients were immunized incorrectly. Clinicians should be aware of common errors in vaccine dosing and national guidelines should be simplified.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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