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Avalere Research Highlights Alternative Settings for Vaccination

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The CDC recommends HBV vaccinations for persons with a history of current or recent injection drug use, but uptake remains low. Avalere research shows an opportunity to leverage alternative care settings to address the growing rates of HBV infection.

Despite significant effort from federal, state, and local governments as well as healthcare providers, the opioid epidemic persists. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated this trend. More than 87,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in the 12-month period that ended in September 2020. People who use injection drugs are at higher risk for infections with bloodborne pathogens, including hepatitis B virus (HBV), due to sharing syringes and other equipment used to prepare drugs for injection. Consequently, the Center for Disease Control recommends routine HBV vaccination for “persons with a history of current or recent injection drug use,” considered at high risk for HBV. Despite recommendations, vaccination rates remain low.

At the same time, due to stay-at-home orders and other societal shifts, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to explore alternative settings (e.g., the home) and modalities (e.g., telehealth) for offering healthcare services. By shifting care delivery models, providers were better able to be responsive to patient needs, maintain patient access to care, and reduce transmission of the coronavirus.

Recent research conducted by Avalere Health—consisting of interviews with clinicians, administrators, and executives from 8 outpatient opioid use disorder clinics across the US—shows an opportunity to leverage alternative care settings to address the growing rates of HBV infection. Our findings suggest that opioid use disorder clinics may be best positioned to address the medical and public health needs of this population because they are already serving these high-risk but difficult to reach individuals.

Read more about our research as cited in a recent “From the Field” article in Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly by Stacey Pearce and Judith Feinberg.

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