Advancing Pediatric Healthcare: Jennifer Girotto’s Dedication to Antimicrobial Stewardship and Immunization Advocacy

School of Pharmacy Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Jennifer Girotto, takes immunization advocacy beyond Connecticut and promotes antimicrobial stewardship internationally.

Jennifer Girotto

Jennifer Girotto gave a virtual presentation last week on the Principles of Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship (ASP) at the Pediatric Association of Nigeria Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference in Nigeria. As a pioneer establishing and co-directing the Connecticut Children’s antimicrobial stewardship program (ASP), she shared evidence-based recommendations, available resources, and drew from her own experiences to attendees interested in establishing similar programs in Africa.

To reduce the risk of developing drug resistant microbes, the overarching goals of ASP involve ensuring antibiotics are prescribed only when necessary, using targeted drugs before broad spectrum ones, and assuring the drugs are used for the correct amount of time. The Connecticut Children’s ASP program has attained recognition as a Center of Excellence by the Infectious Disease Society of America, making it one of only 14 free-standing Children’s hospitals with this distinction.

Collaborating with pediatricians and advanced practice providers, the ASP program has developed a robust program utilizing evidence to ensure children receive the most appropriate antibiotics. The program’s mission extends beyond hospital walls to care for children throughout the state and region. Initiatives to achieve this include a Connecticut Children’s specific stewardship app accessible to healthcare providers statewide, participation in a state-wide NICU stewardship group, and the completion of a recent pilot quality improvement project collaborating with pediatrician’s offices to enhance antibiotic use.

“Professor Girotto’s work reflects the gold standard of academia—one that integrates research, teaching and outreach,” says Rosa E. Raudales, Director, Office of Outreach & Engagement.  “Translating and transferring this type of knowledge to communities and practitioners who can implement change in the field is essential. We cannot keep the outputs of the research in our labs, we must share what we learn with the community to accelerate change. This type of work literally saves lives— that is the value of publicly engaged research.”

This is but one of the ways she contributes to better care for patients here in Connecticut and abroad. Girotto is board certified in both Infectious Diseases Pharmacy and Pediatric Pharmacotherapy and is highly engaged in immunization training and adoption. Through the UConn School of Pharmacy’s Pharmacist Immunization Training Program, she has contributed to the training and certification of nearly 1300 pharmacists and student pharmacist immunizers over the past decade. Additionally, she was a part of a group of pharmacists from the school involved in training non-pharmacist healthcare providers to administer immunizations during the early phases of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. In 2021-2022, she had the privilege of participating in the allocation subcommittee of the Governor’s Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccine. Her actions, and those of others throughout the state resulted in Connecticut being the top state in the nation providing the first and booster COVID-19 vaccination.

Her dedication to immunizations is further demonstrated through presentations delivered to pharmacists in Connecticut and nationwide, covering new immunizations and changes to immunization recommendations, as well as her major media work combatting vaccine misinformation. Recognizing her passion for immunizations, Girotto was appointed as the inaugural Chair of the Pediatric Pharmacy Association’s new Immunization Committee.

C. Michael White, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pharmacy Practice, states: “Dr. Girotto typifies the publicly engaged clinician scientist. Her work to assure pediatric patients don’t suffer from needless infections by receiving life-saving vaccinations and that, if infected, have viable treatment options to prevent death or disability is exemplary. Through the School of Pharmacy Pediatrics Track, she provides in depth training for pharmacy students looking for careers in pediatric pharmacy with a strong track record of students being selected for residencies and fellowships in pediatric hospitals. Her media articles in newspapers and medical news sites across the country have been read by over a quarter million people to date.”