Making a Strong Recommendation for COVID-19 Vaccination

Engaging in Effective COVID-19 Vaccine Conversations

Healthcare professionals and pharmacists can use the following techniques and resources to discuss vaccination with patients before COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the United States. Whether you have these discussions with your patients during an in-person office visit, through messages on your patient portal, at a telemedicine appointment, or during consultation in your pharmacy, your strong vaccine recommendation is the most important part of the conversation.

1. Start from a Place of Empathy and Understanding

The pandemic has been stressful for many people. The first step is to acknowledge the disruption COVID-19 has caused in all our lives, providing an opportunity to recognize common concerns that can be addressed by a vaccine.

2. Assume Patients Will Want to Be Vaccinated but May Not Know When to Expect It

Consider providing the following general information to patients about the timeline for COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Limited COVID-19 vaccine doses may be available in 2020.
  • It is anticipated that vaccine supply will increase substantially in 2021.
  • The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. However, not everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away.

It is understandable how concerning it could be for your patients if they cannot be vaccinated right away. Encourage them to continue taking steps to protect themselves from COVID-19 and let them know how you plan to share updates about vaccine availability.

3. Give Your Strong Recommendation

Let your patients know you plan to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for them. Patients consistently rank healthcare providers as their most trusted source for vaccine information. In this unique position, you are able to provide a strong recommendation that is critical for vaccine acceptance. Share the importance of COVID-19 vaccines to protect patients’ health, as well as the health of those around them, or talk about your personal plans to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Example:

“I strongly recommend you get a COVID-19 vaccine once it is widely available…”

“…This shot is especially important for you because of your [job/underlying health condition].”

“…I believe in this vaccine so strongly that I plan to get it as soon as it is available.”

4. Listen to and Respond to Patient Questions

If a patient has concerns or questions, this doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t accept a COVID-19 vaccine. Sometimes patients simply want your answers to their questions.

Your willingness to listen to their concerns will play a major role in building trust in you and your recommendation. Make it clear that you understand they have questions, and you want to answer them, so they feel confident in choosing to get vaccinated.

Seek to understand your patients’ concerns and provide information they need in a way they can understand it. Explore some of the vaccine questions patients ask about most and find tips for how to answer their questions: Answering Patient’s Questions.

5. Wrapping Up the Conversation

Once you’ve answered their questions, let your patients know that you are open to continuing the conversation. Encourage your patients to take at least one action, such as:

  • Scheduling another appointment, or
  • Reading the additional information you provide them about COVID-19 vaccination.

Because these vaccines are new, your patients’ comfort level with when to get vaccinated will vary. Continue to remind them about the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine during future routine visits.

Page last reviewed: November 2, 2020