PEDIATRICS Quality Report: Improving Infant Vaccination Status in a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

SOURCE: Raymond C. Stetson, Jennifer L. Fang, Christopher E. Colby and Robert M. Jacobson. Improving Infant Vaccination Status in a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Pediatrics, November 2019, 144 (5) e20190337; DOI:

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Infants in NICUs are at risk for underimmunization. Adherence to the routine immunization schedule recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices minimizes the risk of contracting vaccine-preventable illnesses in this vulnerable population. From January 2015 to June 2017, only 56% (419 of 754) of the infants in our Mayo Clinic level IV NICU were fully up to date for recommended immunizations at the time of discharge or hospital unit transfer. We aimed to increase this rate to 80% within 6 months.

METHODS: Using the quality improvement methodology of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control, we analyzed baseline data, including provider and nursing surveys using a fishbone diagram, the 5 Whys, and a Pareto chart. We identified 3 major root causes of the quality gap: lack of provider knowledge of the routine immunization schedule, failure of providers to order vaccines when due, and hesitancy of parents toward vaccination. Using plan-do-study-act cycles, 5 improvement interventions were implemented. These included an intranet resource for NICU providers on the routine immunization schedule, an Excel-based checklist to track when immunizations were due, and provider education on parental vaccine hesitancy and vaccine safety.

RESULTS: During the 19-month improve and control phases of the project, the fully immunized rate at the time of NICU discharge or transfer rose from a baseline of 56% (419 of 754) to 93% (453 of 488), with a P value <.001.

CONCLUSIONS: Our NICU significantly improved infant immunization rates with a small number of interventions. These interventions may be generalizable to other NICUs with low infant immunization rates.

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