Sanford Health clinics recognized for high vaccination rates

"Our physicians and nurses have always been good advocates for vaccines and are comfortable talking with parents about why they’re important."

By: Nadine Aljets .

Sanford clinics recognized for vaccinations and immunization rates
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Every day at Sanford Health clinics, people of all ages receive vaccinations. They protect against diseases like influenza, Hepatitis, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and HPV. Diseases that could harm a person’s well being or even cause death.

Health care providers know how important vaccines are, and they work to educate their patients on the facts. With this additional education, more patients receive vaccinations at the appropriate time.

Improved immunization rates

Two of Sanford Health’s clinics have recently been recognized by the North Dakota Department of Health for their work improving immunization rates.

Sanford Children’s Broadway Clinic received the “Most Improved HPV Immunization Rate Award.”

Sanford Health Wahpeton Clinic had one of the largest increases in immunization rates for the 4:3:1:3:3:1:4 (4 DTaP, 3 polio, 1 MMR, 3 Hib, 3 hepatitis B, 1 varicella, 4 pneumococcal) series from 2017 to 2018 for children aged 19-35 months. They earned the “Most Improved Pediatric Immunization Rate Award.”

“Vax Champs”

Sanford Children’s Broadway Clinic leaders attribute the increase to empowering their employees to have discussions with families about keeping on the vaccine schedule.

“Our physicians and nurses have always been good advocates for vaccines and are comfortable talking with parents about why they’re important,” said Dr. Rebecca Bakke, Sanford Health pediatrician. “Further re-educating nurses has helped make them more comfortable with strongly making recommendations. When families hear about vaccines from not just physicians, but nurses and front reception staff, they better understand the importance.”

Kristina Kluth, who works as a nurse supervisor in pediatrics, said that the clinic has empowered employees to serve as “Vax Champs.” This is a group that works together to keep staff educated and excited about working on improving vaccination rates.

“We have the nurses do the pre-work the day before to check for the vaccines the patient needs. This helps us so we don’t have missed opportunities (to vaccinate),” said Kluth.

“One of the great things about the Vax Champ program is it’s really a team effort. It’s not just the doctors or just the nurses. It’s the whole clinic uniting to keep kids as healthy as possible and empowering our nurses who spend a lot of time with our patients,” said Bakke.

Importance of vaccinations

The improved vaccination rates are important, not just for the clinic, but for the patients and the public.

“Vaccines are the most important health care advancement in the last century. They’ve saved millions of lives and improved the quality of those lives as well,” Bakke said.

For patients who are unsure about vaccines, medical providers welcome the discussion.

“If parents have questions about vaccines, we welcome them to ask us. We’re the most qualified people to answer those questions. I wouldn’t want someone to feel discouraged or embarrassed to ask those questions. I would say we are happy to listen to their concerns and help answer their questions,” she said.

Bakke said that the vast majority of time, people recognize the vaccines are important and valuable to their health.

“If we didn’t give these vaccines, we would be busier, but we want our patients and families to be healthy,” said Bakke. “It’s beautiful because we can prevent disease. We’re not waiting until they’re sick. We are giving kids these vaccines so they don’t come back sick. We’re vaccinating our patients because we care about them and want them to lead happy, healthy lives.”

For information on the recommended immunization schedule for 18 and younger, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.