November 5, 2020, 4:00 pm News Staff -- Large swaths of the American public may have fallen behind on their vaccines this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggests recent evidence. Between this and the upcoming flu season, it’s more important than ever to remind people about immunizations and the role family physicians play in providing them. It’s also important for the public to understand their individual roles in public health. That’s why the AAFP has launched a consumer-facing campaign to stress the importance of people visiting their family physician to receive their vaccines.
The campaign, which launches Nov. 9, is designed to raise public awareness and increase public confidence in vaccines. It emphasizes vaccination as a selfless act that stops the spread of infectious diseases and protects those in the community who may not be able to get vaccinated. Patients are encouraged to talk with their family physicians about the vaccines they need to protect their health and help build the immunity of their community.
“50,000 Americans die every year from vaccine-preventable illnesses,” said Natasha Bhuyan, M.D., a board-certified family physician who practices in Phoenix, Ariz. “Many Americans are unaware of which vaccines are indicated for them based on their personal health status, age or family history. That is why it’s important for all Americans to have a family physician. As family physicians, we are not only able to take care of our patients when they are sick, but also keep them healthy.”
Campaign resources are freely available on the Academy’s patient education site, familydoctor.org. The site’s new Vaccines page shares the importance of vaccines, including
“Vaccines not only protect you, but they also protect your loved ones and your entire community,” explained Bhuyan. “When my patients get vaccinated, they are also helping people who cannot get vaccinated, oftentimes infants or people with serious medical conditions.”
Bhuyan added that she helps patients understand the importance of vaccinations not only by going over data on vaccines, but also by relating her personal experiences in seeing how vaccines have helped save the lives of others.
“I do have some patients who are vaccine hesitant,” Bhuyan said. “I’ve built a trusting relationship with many patients throughout the years, and even patients who initially were reluctant to get vaccinated learn it’s both for their own personal health as well as others.”
The Academy also has campaign resources for members on its Immunizations & Vaccines page, including downable posters and social media banners that practices can use to encourage patients to get their vaccines. New resources will be available throughout the campaign, which runs through February.