By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
Sept. 15, 2021
Vaccination status is a hot topic among the general public. To give insight into what people in our profession are thinking, Review of Optometric Business and Women in Optometry recently conducted a joint poll. Here are the results from that poll plus our observations and suggestions.
From the answers to this poll question we can see that the majority of practices are getting this question at least once in a while. Knowing this, make sure you have worked out a scripted answer to this question. Without a scripted answer to this question, you are relying on the weakest team member to come up with an acceptable answer for patients. With a scripted answer, even the weakest team member is prepared to give the questioner an answer that management has thought through and approved.
About two-thirds of the respondents say they volunteer their own vaccination status, while about one-third just talk in general terms about the office safety protocols. Then, there are about 10 percent who will not volunteer their vaccination status to patients. Again, scripting here helps prepare the entire team as to the best way for everyone in the office to answer this question in a patient friendly way.
The answers here were interesting. The majority (28.7% + 26.3% = 55%) responded that they do not ask patients about their vaccination status. These providers are trying to keep patients focused on the eye exam and not spend time discussing vaccination issues.
With the two new variants that have occurred, both more contagious than the original variations of the COVID-19 virus, vaccinations and the response to vaccination are not going to go away. With well thought out questions and answers for patients, you can minimize the time spent when a question occurs, but more importantly, have consistent messaging from all team members.
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Here is what we suggest when you get questions from patients about the vaccination status of the doctors and team members in your practice:
1. Avoid getting into political discussions about vaccinations.
2. Focus on making sure your patient feels safe. For many of you it will be sharing your own vaccination status. For others, it will be focusing on safety protocols being used and for others it may be sharing that no one has contracted the virus through your office.
3. Move off this topic and onto why the patient is in the office – to improve their quality of life – as quickly as possible.