Improving Adult Immunization Rates the Focus of Partnership Between ATS and Three Health Systems Across the U.S.

NEW YORK, NY – Jan. 17, 2023 – The American Thoracic Society is starting the new year poised to improve vaccination rates with three health system partners:  University of Arizona/ Banner Health; West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc.; and San Francisco Health Network/ University of California.   

In the fall of 2021, the CDC announced it had awarded a grant to the Center of Medical Specialty Societies to implement a vaccine initiative – Specialty Societies Advancing Adult Immunization – over a five-year period. The ATS, among others, was tapped by CMSS to address gaps in COVID-19, influenza and pneumococcal vaccine implementation. Specifically, ATS will focus on adults with respiratory disease, including COPD and asthma.

With funding from the ATS, each health system will focus on collecting baseline immunization data in the first year. At the end of the five-year term, they will have tested and identified evidence-based interventions for implementation among specific populations.

“This initiative comes at a critical time given the proliferation of misinformation related to vaccines,” said Robert Stansbury, MD, West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc. “We look forward to identifying how we can better educate our patients so they can make an informed decision about their care. We are grateful to the American Thoracic Society for this opportunity to contribute to improving vaccine adoption by better understanding existing barriers and the challenges to providers.”

“As health care providers who care for patients with lung disease,” said George Su, MD, University of California San Francisco. “We are uniquely positioned to identify health care gaps, inequities, and systems barriers. Needs-finding at the patient, clinic, and systems operational levels is a critical first step to deriving insights into the problems we must solve. Health systems like ours can help lead necessary change. Thank you ATS for helping us in this regard.”

“Caring for patients who are marginalized, but who also have the burden of a serious lung disease, is extremely humbling,” said Sai Parthasarathy, MD, University of Arizona. “We see patients who are most vulnerable to the adverse consequences of preventable infections. With the funding support from the American Thoracic Society, we can do the work necessary to help our patient population considering that clinicians are the most trusted source of health information regarding vaccines.”

“We look forward to beginning this work that will help our members and the broader community of respiratory health professionals care for patients with serious lung disease,” said ATS President Gregory Downey, MD, ATSF. “The data collected will contribute to the development of immunization policy statements, as well as patient education materials.”

He added, “On behalf of the ATS leadership, I want to extend my thanks to the CDC as well as CMSS for their continued support and for including ATS in this critically important initiative.” As a demonstration of its ongoing commitment to immunization access, the ATS’s Executive Committee has endorsed the National Vaccine Advisory Committee Standards for Adult Immunization.

The ATS is in the process of securing additional partnerships with health systems across the U.S.  For more information, contact Amy F. Stern, the ATS senior director of Vaccine Initiatives at [email protected].

For information on vaccine resources, visit the ATS Vaccine Resource Center.