Policy On Vaccines
Greetings to Our Patients and Parents,
It is already middle of the fall season. We are administering influenza (flu) vaccines to our patients during well and sick visits, and we have added staff on Saturday morning and Tuesday afternoons for patients who come just for the flu vaccine. This year all flu vaccines are provided by the state of Massachusetts. We recommend the vaccine to all children 6 months and older unless there is a medical reason against it. The reason for vaccination is to protect children from serious illness and complications caused by the flu virus, which account for many emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths. Although most people will recover from the illness, they will still be affected by losses in time and money due to school absences for patients and missed work for parents. This year the flu vaccine contains 4 strains of the flu virus. If the flu virus strains that come around this winter season are among the strains contained in the vaccine, then those who are vaccinated are likely to be protected by the vaccine. Your decision about whether your child should be vaccinated should be based on these facts, not based on false myths or fears such as “the vaccine causing flu symptoms” myth, or that there are chemical poisons in the vaccine.
Second, starting November 2015, our Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system will be linked with the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS), a confidential, web-based system. Vaccine records for Massachusetts residents of all ages will be collected and stored by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This system will allow us to access the vaccine record of patients who had moved from another part of the state to our practice or who had vaccinations at a school or a pharmacy. Similarly, if you go to an emergency room with an injury, the physician there can check the MIIS to find out if you are up-to-date with the tetanus vaccine. Additionally, school nurses are able to access MIIS, making school registration more efficient for parents. Parents who are concerned about privacy of vaccine information will have the right to opt out of sharing vaccine information with other facilities by signing a waiver form, though the vaccine information will still be registered with MIIS.
Third, I encourage those families who have not yet signed up for patient portal to do so. With our current EMR system, patients can access laboratory results and vaccine record via patient portal, request appointments, refills, and referrals, as well as email your non-urgent questions through this portal. To register, simply call the office during regular business hours and our staff will gladly help you through the process. Please understand, due to Massachusetts privacy laws, parental access to medical records is restricted to children of ages 12 years and younger.
Last, but not least, I want to announce that by the spring of 2016, we will likely have a mental health counselor at our pediatric office. Establishing this service at our location is exciting for all of us because it will more comprehensively serve our patients by providing convenient, accessible counseling for many mental health issues including those related to anxiety, depression, school difficulties and bullying. We here at Pediatric Associates of Malden look forward to give the highest care for all patients that come to us. Stay tuned for further updates and important notices.
Tien-Lan Chang, M.D.