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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed immunization rates among the elderly for influenza and pneumococcal diseases, focusing on the: (1) Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) efforts to improve the use of these vaccines; and (2) types of interventions that enhance the use of these vaccines.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Health and Human Services The Secretary of Health and Human Services should take a more active leadership role in promoting pneumococcal and influenza vaccination among elderly persons by seeking, in the annual appropriations process, to clarify what proportion of immunization funding should be allocated for such activities.
Closed - Not Implemented
A CDC official stated that a decrease in funding of state immunization program grants had forced concentration of efforts on childhood immunization. However, unspent surpluses from previous years were also cited as a reason for reducing these grants.
Department of Health and Human Services The Secretary of Health and Human Services should take a more active leadership role in promoting pneumococcal and influenza vaccination among elderly persons by directing the Health Care Financing Administration and the Public Health Service to focus their efforts on promoting or supporting promising strategies, such as patient and physician reminder systems, development of standing order policies, and broad-based use of a hospital policy to vaccinate eligible patients before discharge.
Closed - Not Implemented
No action is intended.

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