With the Delta variant of the coronavirus now driving the surge of COVID-19 cases in the United States, it is now more important than ever to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. However, many Americans are still hesitant to take the vaccine. In fact, as of August, only 67% of adult Americans have received at least the first shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If you include teenagers 12 to 17 who are now eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the national percentage of those who have gotten at least one shot is 64%.
Research shows that healthcare professionals are the most trusted source of information when it comes to vaccines. Therefore, healthcare professionals have a key role to play in improving vaccine acceptance and fostering a culture of immunization in the practice as they are in contact with patients throughout the office visit.
From the front desk to the exam room to checkout, everyone plays an important role in supporting vaccination. Adopt these best practices to ensure you never miss an opportunity to vaccinate.
Make patients aware of your immunization policy
When you ensure every patient that visits your practice is aware of your immunization policy, you lay the foundation for effective vaccination recommendations.
- Discuss your policy during each patient’s first visit.
- Share your policy on your practice’s website.
- Include a copy of your policy in new patient packets.
- Post your policy in the waiting room.
Make vaccine resources easy to find
Making immunization information readily available saves time by helping patients get their questions answered before they meet with you.
- Include the immunization schedule and other handouts in new patient packets.
- Provide age-appropriate vaccine educational materials and display posters in the waiting room.
- Provide appropriate Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) at every vaccine visit, as required by law.
- Syndicate CDC web content on your website.
- Customize your electronic medical records to include information like dot-phrases that can easily be printed and given to patients.
Review each patient’s vaccination status and prepare them to receive vaccines
By assessing vaccination status at every visit, you can avoid missed opportunities to vaccinate and reinforce that vaccinations are important.
- Set up a reminder and recall system to prompt clinical staff and let patients know when vaccines are due or when patients miss doses.
- Before each visit, determine which vaccines are due by checking the patient’s immunization history using the state’s immunization information system and your practice’s electronic medical records (EMR) system.
- At sign in, remind patients which vaccines are due.
- Ask patients to complete a screening form or checklist for contraindications and precautions while they’re in the waiting room.
Make effective recommendations
Research has shown an effective recommendation from a healthcare professional is the main reason patients decide to vaccinate.
- Start childhood vaccine conversations early by reviewing the immunization schedule with pregnant women and parents of young infants.
- Review the screening checklist and patient records to determine which vaccines can be administered.
- Start each vaccine conversation with a presumptive statement, assuming patients will vaccination and explaining which vaccines are due.
- Recommend vaccines from your position as a trusted expert.
Answer questions and address concerns
Patients are likely to have questions, even if they already plan to vaccinate. By welcoming and answering questions, you help patients feel supported.
- If a patient is hesitant, talk to them about their specific concerns.
- Listen to any questions from patients and answer them clearly and patiently.
- Share your own experiences, explaining why you chose vaccination for yourself or your children.
- If a patient refuses vaccines, explain the implications of refusing or delaying vaccines and discuss a plan to continue the conversation during future appointments.
Implement procedures and policies that help staff support vaccination
Effective administrative procedures, clear policies, and useful training programs equip your staff to support vaccination and work efficiently.
- Designate primary and alternative vaccine coordinators to oversee vaccine management in your practice.
- Obtain vaccine storage equipment and vaccine administration supplier as needed.
- Notify the vaccine coordinator immediately when a vaccine delivery arrives.
- Keep up to date on CDC immunization recommendations and schedules, published every February and periodically updated throughout the year.
- Make immunization schedules and other clinical resources readily available to all staff.
- Integrate comprehensive, competency-based vaccine training into existing staff education programs, such as new staff orientation.
- Put policies and procedures in place to ensure vaccines are stored, prepared, and administered correctly.
- Implement standing orders that authorize trained staff to assess immunization status and administer vaccines.
Schedule upcoming vaccinations before the patient leaves the office
Checkout is a key opportunity to reinforce the importance of vaccination and plan for upcoming vaccines.
- Let the patient know which vaccines will be due at the next appointment.
- Schedule a follow-up appointment before the patient leaves the practice.
- Ensure this appointment falls within the recommended timeframe of the CDC schedule.
- If a patient defers scheduling for any reason, offer to call them a few days later.
- Reinforce the importance of completing the vaccine series.
- Offer educational materials to take home and review.
Remind patients about upcoming vaccination appointments and missed appointments
Ongoing communication is essential in making sure patients stay on schedule with vaccinations.
- Make calls, send texts, send emails, or mail postcards to remind patients about the importance of vaccination and note upcoming appointments.
- If a patient comes in for a sick visit, remind them about upcoming vaccines.
- If a patient misses an appointment, call to follow up and remind them about the importance of vaccines.
Keep Up-To-Date With CEs Regarding Vaccinations
Whether it’s about how mRNA vaccines work, or about how important it is for healthcare professionals to get vaccinated, keeping your knowledge about vaccinations fresh and updated always helps you maintain your expertise about vaccines. With AchieveCE’s offering on vaccinations, you’d be sure to stay updated with information on new vaccines!
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