As we've entered August -- National Immunization Awareness Month -- the CDC has launched a new website for its #HowIRecommend videos series,(www.cdc.gov) featuring health care professionals talking about how they recommend vaccines to different types of patients.
In the series, health care professionals demonstrate how to make effective vaccine recommendations, address common vaccine questions and take a team-based approach to vaccination.
AAFP liaison to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Pamela Rockwell, D.O., of Ann Arbor, Mich., was one of the family physicians featured(www.youtube.com) in the video series.
"The video format for vaccine recommendations is helpful because, in a minute or less, family physicians can see and hear a strong vaccine recommendation delivered and hear the common physician responses given when confronted with patient vaccine hesitancy," Rockwell told AAFP News. "Younger or more inexperienced physicians can review the videos to help them find words and phrases to use when recommending vaccines."
The videos also highlight the need for family physicians' entire offices -- from the front-office staff to the medical assistants and nurses -- to be involved in supporting the importance of vaccination, she said.
In Rockwell's videos, she said she gives strong recommendations for the flu vaccine and the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine without offering further explanation unless a patient shows hesitancy or refuses vaccination.
"If a patient refuses vaccination, I assure them first of vaccine safety and vaccine effectiveness, and I highlight possible adverse outcomes that may ensue if the patient succumbs to the disease the vaccine protects against," she said. "I personalize my recommendation for those who are hesitant by assuring patients that I have received all the vaccinations I recommend, as have my children and other family members."
HCP Fight Flu Toolkit
As we enter flu season, the CDC also is promoting its Health Care Professional Fight Flu Toolkit(www.cdc.gov) to support family physicians' strong recommendations for the influenza vaccine.
Practice tools include fact sheets with information on timing and types of available flu vaccines, as well as methods to provide strong recommendations to parents, adults ages 50-64, older adults and the general public.
Additional tools include a PDF presentation of how to prepare your practice to fight flu, an appointment reminder email template and sample social media posts.
Rockwell said she thinks family physicians could use this video series to get ideas on how to best phrase vaccine recommendations in a way that is both authoritative and effective without alienating hesitant patients.
"All in all, a strong recommendation to vaccinate is key," she said. "Physicians ought to be assertive in their recommendation and not pose the need for vaccination in a question form. Asking if the patient would like to receive their flu or Tdap vaccine, for example, implies that the patient has a choice to answer, 'No, I do not wish to have the vaccine today' and diminishes the importance of the recommendation."
After making a strong recommendation, Rockwell said, the best ways to increase vaccination rates in a practice include using a collaborative approach to address patient concerns by offering evidence-based information, education and CDC references.
"The CDC has excellent resources for patient-friendly education and the videos offer a clinician the opportunity to review several different clinicians delivering their approach to the same vaccination recommendation," she said. "These different styles of delivery and examples of educational information that one may offer to help patients understand the importance of vaccination give clinicians examples of the language they may incorporate in their own patient interactions."
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