August was National Immunization Awareness Month. … just in time to address the precipitous drop in immunization delivered during the early months of the pandemic.
In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported substantial reductions in vaccine doses ordered through the Vaccines for Children program after the declaration of national emergency because of COVID-19 on March 13. Approximately 2.5 million fewer doses of routine, noninfluenza vaccines were administered between Jan. 6 and April 2020, compared with a similar period last year (). Declines in immunization rates were echoed by states and municipalities across the United States. Last month, the health system in which I work reported 40,000 children behind on at least one vaccine.
We all know that, when immunization rates drop, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases follow. In orderand that is going to take more than a single month.
Identify patients who’ve missed vaccinations
Simply being open and ready to vaccinate is not enough. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges providers to identify patients who have missed vaccines, and call them to schedule in-person visits. Proactively let parents know about strategies implemented in your office to ensure a safe environment.
Pediatricians are accustomed to an influx of patients in the summer, as parents make sure their children have all of the vaccines required for school attendance. As noted in a Washington Post article from Aug. 4, 2020, schools have traditionally served as a backstop for immunization rates. But as many school districts opt to take education online this fall, the implications for vaccine requirements are unclear. District of Columbia public schools continue to require immunization for virtual school attendance, but it is not clear how easily this can be enforced. To read about how other school districts have chosen to address – or not address – immunization requirements for school, visit the the Immunization Action Coalition’s. The repository links to international, national, and state-level policies and guidance and advocacy materials, including talking points, webinars, press releases, media articles from around the United States and social media posts, as well as telehealth resources.
Get some inspiration to talk about vaccination
Need a little inspiration for talking to parents about vaccines? Check out. These are short videos, most under a minute in length, that explain the importance of vaccination, how to effectively address questions from parents about vaccine safety, and how clinicians routinely recommend same day vaccination to their patients. These videos are part of the CDC’s National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) . A for communicating with parents and patients contains sample social media messages with graphics, along with educational resources to share with parents.
Thea free online program offered by the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, takes a deeper dive into strategies to combat vaccine misinformation and address vaccine hesitancy. Available modules cover vaccine fundamentals, vaccine safety, clinical manifestations of vaccine-preventable diseases, and communication skills that lead to more effective conversations with patients and parents. The curriculum also includes the newest edition of The Vaccine Handbook app, a comprehensive source of practical information for vaccine providers.