Posted on June 21, 2012 at 4:49 PM
Thursday, Jun 21 at 5:06 PM
SAN ANTONIO -- The downtown Family Health Center of University Health System earned national recognition for improving vaccine rates of its young patients. Doctors say that’s great because it means more San Antonians are getting the protection they need.
Four-month-old Mathieu’s mother is careful to keep up with what can be a confusing immunization schedule.
“You want your children to be healthy,” Jacqueline Corona said. “You don’t want them to fall behind and get sick, especially at a very young age.”
Doctors at her clinic, Family Health Center at 527 Leona Street, noticed a disturbing trend. Many parents weren’t keeping up with their children’s vaccinations.
“The problem is the babies are well,” stated UT Medicine family physician Dr. Sasha Loffredo. “They’re not acting sick. They’re feeling fine. They’re developing just like the previous children in the household were, and so parents don’t remember: ‘Oh, the baby’s four months old. I need to come in and get my second set of shots.’”
So the Family Health Center has worked to make it easier and more appealing, providing parents with handy booklets, giving away age-appropriate items like feeding spoons and books, and calling to remind parents of appointments.
“I really do appreciate it,” Corona stressed. “It helps you out as far as the date and the time, a reminder so you can set your alarm and not forget your doctor’s appointment.”
Efforts to keep families on track have paid off. Over the last five years, the return rate for pediatric patients has gone from about 30 percent to 80 or 90 percent.
“So now we’re doing really well,” Loffredo added.
Medical assistants and nurses who received special training have been key to keeping families on track.
The American Academy of Family Physicians gave the Family Health Center an award for “most improved” in the immunization category. More young patients are protected against preventable illnesses.