New Videos Support FPs' Efforts to Boost Adult Immunizations

March 16, 2017 02:41 pm Chris Crawford

As family physicians continue to work to improve adult immunization rates, the AAFP has provided new tools to bolster their efforts.

AAFP liaison to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Margot Savoy, M.D., M.P.H., is featured in a series of videos highlighting the importance of adult immunizations and how to convince vaccine-hesitant patients to be immunized.

The Academy has created three online videos to help family physicians educate their adult patients on the benefits of being vaccinated.

The videos focus on the influenza, zoster and pneumococcal vaccines and provide evidence-based interventions that family physicians can use with vaccine-hesitant patients. The videos demonstrate the use of techniques such as reflective listening, increasing patient knowledge, supporting patient autonomy and strong recommendation to educate patients on the importance of vaccines.

How to Best Utilize the Videos

AAFP liaison to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Margot Savoy, M.D., M.P.H., of Wilmington, Del., is the physician featured in the videos. She told AAFP News patients have told her that hearing stories that relate to the "why" behind physicians' recommendations helps put things in perspective for them.

Story highlights
  • The Academy has created three online videos to help family physicians educate their adult patients on the benefits of being vaccinated.
  • These videos focus on the influenza, zoster and pneumococcal vaccines and provide evidence-based interventions that family physicians can use with vaccine-hesitant patients.
  • The videos demonstrate the use of techniques such as reflective listening, increasing patient knowledge, supporting patient autonomy and strong recommendation to educate patients on the importance of vaccines.

"Often during a visit, we have so many things to cover that being able to click 'play' and get a quick recap of advice is helpful," Savoy said. "Also, seeing how the patients in the videos are comfortable asking questions makes it OK for them to ask questions while in the office, which is helpful, as well."

For example, she said the zoster vaccine video explains to patients that if they had chickenpox as a child, they have the potential to develop shingles as an adult.

"The goal in this case is to tell patients the vaccine acts as a booster to remind the immune system that it has already seen and defeated this virus once before," Savoy said. "If you do have a time when your immune system is weaker and the virus tries to make a comeback, your body can quickly and efficiently shut down the infection, saving you from painful lesions and even nerve damage."

Savoy said in her practice, she often shares links to videos or handouts she finds helpful via patient instruction sheets.

"That's how I plan to use the videos now," she said. "In the future, I would love to be able to have them play in the waiting room or exam room. Or even have my medical assistant or nurse give a patient a tablet with the videos if they are unsure about getting their vaccines when they are offered using our standing order, even before I've come into the room."

Savoy said the videos can be used as stand-alone products (on websites, patient portals or social media channels) or as part of an overall office strategy to increase adult vaccinations, which could include use of standing orders, office champions, marketing outreach and population health registries.

AAFP Adult Immunization Office Champions

In 2015, the Academy recruited 25 family medicine practices and residencies to participate in its Adult Immunization Office Champions project,(1 MB PDF) which runs through 2019.

The focus of the project is to increase immunization rates for influenza, zoster and pneumococcal vaccines among adult patients. The 25 practices also are charged with improving the use of the clinician's strong recommendation, ensuring immunization is assessed and documented in patients' medical records, and increasing data submission to their state or local Immunization Information Systems.

Office Champions project participant Kelsie Kelly, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, told AAFP News the clinic started participating in the program in the fall of 2016.

To promote improving adult immunization rates, the clinic has held a Jeopardy-style game each year for physicians and nursing staff to kick off flu season.

"We have also had team competition within our clinic, with updates throughout flu season on which team has the highest influenza vaccination rate," Kelly said. "The winning team will be having a pizza party."

Kelly said the team's next goal is to improve its shingles vaccine rate. The plan is for physicians and nurses to give patients a "prescription" they can take to their local pharmacy to amplify the message that the clinic offers the zoster vaccine.

All Adult Immunization Office Champions participants were sent the three new videos to use in their efforts to improve adult immunization rates.

Kelly said she enjoyed the conversational tone of each video and noted that they would be easy to share with colleagues and clinic staff. She also appreciated that Savoy was clear in her speech and used nonmedical terms when talking to the patients in the scenarios.

"I also liked that the videos were short -- the flu and pneumonia vaccine videos are only two to three minutes long," she said. "This demonstrates that these common conversations can be worth the time in clinic to make a long-term positive impact on patients' health."

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