June 16, 2021
Some of your patients and employees may be hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Here are five ways, reported by Damian McNamara on WebMD, to overcome that hesitancy to safeguard the health of all in your office.
Start by addressing the first ‘C’ — confidence — suggests lead author Mohammad Razai, MD, senior author Melinda Mills and colleagues in a commentary published online June 2 in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Getting people to believe in the safety, efficacy and importance of vaccines is “crucial,” Razai and his colleagues wrote. Recent attention to rare, but serious, blood clot events potentially associated with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines could have a detrimental effect on such confidence, they added.
Razai and colleagues define vaccine hesitancy as a delay in acceptance or a refusal to get immunized despite vaccine availability.
Some researchers point to a perception of low risk of COVID-19 coupled with perception of low risk for severe disease — particularly among young people and individuals of lower socioeconomic status — for fueling complacency.
Now that vaccine emergency use authorization has extended to lower age groups, “addressing complacency through repeated risk communication is crucial to facilitate informed decision-making,” the authors wrote.
If you offer vaccines in a convenient way, the vaccine hesitant may be more inclined to receive the shot— that’s the gist of the third C. Providing COVID-19 immunizations in an easy-to-reach location can boost access and acceptance, the researchers wrote. Removing financial barriers can also help get more people vaccinated.
Evidence of convenience helping vaccine efforts already exists for other immunizations. Offering flu vaccines at schools in the U.S., for instance, can boost vaccination rates. Another study showed immunization rates increased in the U.K. when vaccines were offered at doctors’ offices and pharmacies.
For this reason, Razai and colleagues propose that vaccines be distributed to pharmacies, primary care offices and trusted healthcare professionals to increase acceptance. The fourth C in their strategy involves effective communication and dispelling misinformation.
“It will go wrong if doctors assume that all people need is more facts and evidence,” Razai says “One-way communication of science without engaging in dialogue will be very unlikely to establish trust or build confidence in vaccines’ safety, importance or efficacy.”
“The key is to have a dialogue and listen to concerns,” he adds.
Addressing misinformation remains essential. “Misinformation feeds on people’s fears and anxieties about the pandemic to promote anti-vaccination conspiracy theories,” the authors noted.
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Putting it all in context is the fifth C. Razai and colleagues believe factors such as ethnicity, occupation and socioeconomic status are often overlooked in vaccine initiatives.
“The problem starts with the term ‘vaccine hesitancy’ itself,” the authors wrote. “That wording emphasizes individual behavior and assigns some blame to each reluctant person. This approach does not consider “powerful structural factors such as systemic racism and access barriers,” they noted.
Most research on vaccine acceptance is conducted in high-income countries, they added, and as a result, few effective strategies have been identified for people in low- and middle-income settings.