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Taming Immunization Compliance Chaos

Webinar Q&A Recap with Emily Lenz, Director of Health Services at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

February 26, 2024

Looking for firsthand advice on ways to enhance immunization compliance? You’ve come to the right place!

During our recent webinar, Taming Immunization Compliance Chaos, we gained valuable insights from our guest speaker, Emily Lenz, Director of Health Services at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Emily shared her expertise when it comes to managing immunization compliance on college campuses. From managing waivers to communicating effectively with students, she provides valuable strategies for ensuring compliance and enhancing student health outcomes.

Here are some of the questions we received during the webinar and what Emily had to say:

Q: When are students notified of immunization requirements?

A: Students receive notifications about immunization requirements in their welcome packets which they receive once they confirm their enrollment at SAIC. Additionally, once students’ information is entered into Medicat, they start receiving messages from me. They also receive reminders through campus life communications, including welcome emails and other pertinent notifications.

Q: How do you communicate requirements with students?

A: We prioritize early and frequent engagement. As soon as incoming students enroll, our immunization requirements are front and center on their enrollment checklist. We initiate contact with incoming students through biweekly emails, followed by weekly emails and secure messages. This ensures they are well-informed about immunization requirements, even from their earliest moments as a part of our campus community.

Q: How do you get students to pay attention to the messages you’re sending telling them they’re non-compliant?

A: We’ve noticed that students are more likely to open our compliance messages when we use all caps in our subject lines, emphasizing phrases like “PAST DUE” and “ACTION NEEDED.

Q: What methods or systems does SAIC use to manage compliance?

A: We use Medicat One Immunization Compliance Management and an integration with the Illinois State Immunization Registry (I-CARE). This combination helps us stay organized and automate compliance to the best of our ability.

Q: What are the consequences for students who are not compliant?

A: Non-compliant students face administrative holds. We have an interface with PeopleSoft that places a service hold on accounts and notifies students if they’re not compliant. However, we don’t enforce a registration hold, which I know a lot of other campuses use.

Q: How did you get most students to use the portal and not fax/mail records?

A: Depending on what time of the year we receive them, we’ll just tell students to please upload records to the Medicat Student Portal. We still receive a few by mail and fax, so our front desk staff will just scan them and then enter the dates.

Q: Are you allowing students to enter their own dates for each immunization record they upload?

A: Yes, we do allow students to enter their own vaccination dates and upload their records. When students enter their dates, our system flags the entries for review, allowing us to easily identify records needing attention. Our staff ensures that the information entered matches the records provided. While we have encountered occasional errors, particularly in vaccine names, most students accurately report their vaccination dates.  

Q: What challenges do you experience with verifying international vaccines?

A: When verifying international vaccines, we encounter several challenges. While some records come with English translations, others require students to translate them themselves – which we then verify.

Q: What tools do you use to make verifying international records easier?

A: We utilize Google Translate to help us verify international records. In some cases, we do require that students have their records translated for us. If you have a lot of international students from a particular country, you start to pick up on patterns in the formatting of the immunization records, which makes manually reviewing them a lot easier.

Q: Does SAIC offer immunizations to students, and how are they billed?

A: Yes, we provide all required immunizations for free to students. We bill the SAIC student insurance plan using ledger billing, while we do not bill other insurance plans.

Q: Do you accept religious or medical waivers on your campus?

A: Yes, we do accept both religious and medical waivers at SAIC. During the period when we had a COVID vaccine requirement, we established a committee to review religious waivers. We’ve reverted to having health services staff handle waivers since then. Religious exemptions are evaluated carefully, and medical exemptions are accepted, provided they are signed by a medical provider.

Thank you again to Emily Lenz for sharing SAIC’s effective strategies for managing immunization compliance. We hope these insights help you navigate the complexities of immunization compliance on your campus.

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