Summit Medical Group Study Shows Multidisciplinary Partnerships Can Protect Vulnerable Populations in a Pandemic

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Findings demonstrate H1N1 vaccine can be safely given to individuals with egg allergy.

Our results show that effective public health policy implementation and prevention of disease during a major influenza pandemic is possible for children in which vaccination is contraindicated due to an allergy to a vaccine component – in this case, eggs.

In a new study, physicians from Summit Medical Group’s Department of Allergy and Immunology have shown that egg-allergic individuals can be safely vaccinated with H1N1 influenza vaccine.

Summit Medical Group (SMG) allergy and immunology specialists, Dr. Kerry S. Le Benger, FAAAAI, FACAAI and Dr. Gary Pien, FAAP conducted the study. Appearing in an upcoming issue of Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, the study investigates how to safely immunize high-risk populations during the H1N1 influenza pandemic for which the vaccine would be contraindicated. Vaccination against influenza remains the most effective preventive measure available. In spite of that, up to 2 million children a year cannot be immunized because of a prior history of egg allergy.

Study findings show that with close partnerships between pediatricians or pediatric primary care providers, allergists, and local emergency medicine physicians, these children can be vaccinated with proper evaluation and precautions.

“In our study, we were able to vaccinate 62 egg-allergic children within a span of three weeks in an efficient and safe manner,” says Dr. Le Benger. “Our results show that effective public health policy implementation and prevention of disease during a major influenza pandemic is possible for children in which vaccination is contraindicated due to an allergy to a vaccine component – in this case, eggs.”

SMG pediatricians identified egg- allergic children and discussed the important benefits of immunization against novel H1N1 influenza. They referred these individuals to SMG allergists for further evaluation of their egg allergy, risk factors for anaphylaxis, and discussion with the families regarding benefits, risks, and procedure for influenza vaccine testing and desensitization. Existing SMG allergy patients with a known history of egg allergy were also contacted for participation. All identified patients with egg allergy were skin-prick tested to the H1N1 vaccine. SMG physicians immunized patients with negative tests in three divided doses. They advised patients with positive tests not to undergo vaccination unless the benefits outweighed the risks.

“Although conducted at our multispecialty practice, we believe that this invaluable public health service can be done outside of this context," states Dr. Pien.

The study, "Coordination of multidisciplinary resources for vaccination of egg-allergic individuals during an H1N1 (novel) influenza pandemic," was supported entirely by Summit Medical Group and its Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine.

Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is the official journal of Regional, State and Local Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Societies (RSLAAIS) and American Association of Certified Allergists (AACA). A peer reviewed publication, it distributes timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. The Proceedings publishes clinically-focused articles, which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma. Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

ABOUT SUMMIT MEDICAL GROUP
Summit Medical Group (SMG) is the largest privately held multispecialty medical practice in New Jersey. SMG has pioneered information technology advances in health care with its early adoption of electronic health records and e-prescribing. With more than 200 highly qualified providers, it is a unique health care model. SMG has an award-winning customer service program, and NJBiz magazine has named it one of New Jersey's "Fifty Fastest Growing Companies". SMG treats more than 55,000 patients per month at its main campus in Berkeley Heights as well as its satellites in Berkeley Heights, Morristown, Millburn, Shorts Hills, Summit, Warren, and Westfield. As one of the East Coast's premier multispecialty groups, SMG has provided exceptional primary and specialty care since 1929. For more information, please visit http://www.summitmedicalgroup.com.

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Maureen Bennett
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