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Upstate vaccinates more than 450 against flu and pneumonia at Christmas Bureau registration clinics

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital provided free flu shots and pneumonia vaccinations to 460 people, from ages 6 months to 94, during registration sessions held earlier this month for the Salvation Army's Christmas Bureau. The Christmas Bureau's distribution of toys is today, Dec. 22, at the Oncenter in Syracuse.

In addition to the free vaccinations, Upstate enrolled 1,533 children who will be studied over the next year as researchers examine how to reduce barriers to childhood immunizations. One first step was to assess the benefit of providing vaccinations at a community-based event.

"This was an enormous success for us and for these families," said Joseph Domachowske, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital. "Not only were we able to provide vaccinations on site, we also laid the necessary foundation to ensure these children stay current with these vaccinations."

Domachowske and Manika Suryadevara, M.D., an infectious disease fellow at Upstate, are leading the study.

In addition to providing vaccinations to children, the Upstate study will

• survey parents on their opinions about childhood vaccinations;

• secure a primary care physician or "medical home" for family, if needed;

• begin insurance enrollment process for family, if needed;

• provide parents with current information from the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) so they can review their child's vaccination history and highlight overdue vaccines. (State law requires healthcare providers to report all immunizations to people under the age of 19, along with immunization histories to the state Health Department through NYSIIS.)

"Over the next year, we will access the state's immunization information system to see if these children are receiving the necessary vaccinations, and if they aren't we will contact the families to find out why this hasn't happened," Domachowske said.

Problems in scheduling appointments, and access to care remain common barriers that keep children from being vaccinated, Domachowske said. "Our follow up with parents will give us a better understanding about these obstacles to care and help us find solutions that keep our children healthy," he said.

The free immunization clinics held during the Salvation Army Christmas Bureau registration were funded by Pfizer.