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Ann Emerg Med. 2004 Oct;44(4):386-92.

Pneumococcal vaccination in the emergency department: an assessment of need.

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Department of Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California and Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.



Immunization against Streptococcus pneumoniae with the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine has been shown to be cost-effective for prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease. Yet 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is widely underused, particularly among ethnic minorities. The objectives of this survey are to determine the rate of 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine vaccination among all adult patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) of a county-based, urban, tertiary care medical center; the willingness of patients to receive 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine; and reasons for nonvaccination.


A quality assurance survey was performed in the ED during 3 days in September 2002. A survey was developed to determine 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine vaccination rates and eligibility according to indications and contraindications established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Descriptive statistics were performed to quantify the proportion of patients who were immunized, eligible, and willing to receive 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine and reasons for nonvaccination.


A total of 250 patients of 1,535 registered in the ED were surveyed during the 3-day period. Only 48 (19%) had a primary care provider. The majority of patients were Hispanic (73%). Only 22 (9%) patients had received the vaccine. A total of 66 (26%) patients fit the CDC eligibility criteria for 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, and 59 (89%) of these patients were willing to receive the vaccine during their ED visit. Most patients (79%) were eligible to receive 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine due to their comorbid illnesses.


In the ED of our county-based urban medical center, 26% of patients were eligible for 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine; the majority of patients were Hispanic, unaware of the vaccine's existence, and willing to receive it during their ED visit. These data underscore a large unmet public health need among ethnic minorities in the ED.

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