MADRID (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – A nurse-led program successfully increased the uptake of pneumococcal vaccination among patients with chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases in a single-center study.

From the start to the end of a 4-month evaluation period, the rate of vaccination of at-risk patients increased from 17.1% (13/76) to 77.6% (59/76; P less than .001).

The findings show that a simple intervention, involving a nurse’s assessment of patients’ eligibility, led to a discussion between a nurse and patient about the benefits and risks of being vaccinated and of not being vaccinated. The study also demonstrated that having a nurse administer the vaccine can have a dramatic effect on how many patients agree to be vaccinated for pneumococcal disease.

It is well known that patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) and systemic vasculitis, are at high risk for contracting pneumococcal disease, reported Tiphaine Goulenok, MD, of Bichat Hospital, Paris, at the European Congress of Rheumatology. This is particularly the case if they are receiving immunosuppressive treatments.

Although French national guidelines were introduced in 2011 that recommend that such patients routinely receive pneumococcal vaccination, the vaccination rate is often lower than is desirable, Dr. Goulenok observed at a press briefing. Her prior research suggests that only 16.2% of patients with an indication for the PCV13 vaccine actually received it.

In the current study, 126 patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases were consecutively recruited and seen at the day unit of Bichat Hospital. Of these patients, 76 were candidates for pneumococcal vaccination because they were receiving steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs. Of these patients, 13 were already vaccinated, and, of the 63 who were not, nurses correctly identified 56 (88.9%) who needed to be vaccinated, of whom 46 agreed and 10 refused.

“We found a low rate of pneumococcal vaccination among patients,” said Dr. Goulenok, “but, thanks to high screening by the nurses, vaccination coverage was increased and the nurse-led vaccination program was very efficient”.

Robert Landewé, MD , who chaired the press briefing, observed that, despite being in an “era of guidelines,” ways of successfully implementing them in practice remained a challenge. The nurse-led program appeared to be one way to increase pneumococcal vaccination uptake, but perhaps other ways need to be sought, especially as there may be substantial resistance to vaccination among patients, he said.

“Patients are sometimes more afraid of the consequences of vaccination than [of] the disease that is prevented by vaccination,” said Dr. Landewé, who is professor of rheumatology at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam (the Netherlands).

Dr. Goulenok and Dr. Landewé reported no disclosures.