Foster Support for Vaccination in Your Practice
This slide deck presents concrete ways that your practice can create a culture of immunization during all steps of a well-child visit, from check-in to checkout. It is intended for use by physicians or vaccine coordinators during staff meetings or lunch-and-learn presentations. You may customize it with your own slide template, logo, and practice-specific information.
As a healthcare professional, you are parents’ most trusted source of information about vaccines. Parents feel more confident following your strong recommendation for on-time vaccination when they get the same information about vaccines from everyone in the office. Inconsistent messages from staff may confuse parents about the importance of following the recommended schedule.
All staff in pediatric and family practices, including non-clinical staff, play an important role in supporting parents in their vaccine decisions. A culture of immunization starts at the front desk and extends into the waiting room, into the exam room, and finally to the checkout desk. Everyone plays a part:
- Receptionists and other support staff
- Nurses and nurse practitioners
- Physicians and physician assistants
- Medical assistants
- Office manager
- Vaccine coordinator
10 ways you can foster support for immunization in your practice:
- Make Parents Aware of Your Immunization Policy
Ensure that every parent that visits your practice is aware of your immunization policy. You can:
- Discuss the policy during their first visit
- Share it on your practice’s website
- Include a copy of the policy in new parent packets
- Post it in the waiting room.
- Keep Up to Date on CDC Vaccine Recommendations
CDC publishes the immunization schedules every February, based on new vaccines or updated recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). As updated immunization guidance becomes available, share the information with your practice and parents. You can find the current English and Spanish immunization schedules here. The ACIP may also make new vaccine recommendations throughout the year. All of the ACIP’s recommendations are posted on the CDC webpage.Practice staff can ensure they are up to date on immunization recommendations and best practices by participating in free CDC educational programs for healthcare professionals including:
- Immunization NetConferences: One-hour online presentation addressing current issues in immunization with an audio conference call and a live question and answer session (presentations available following each event)
- Pink Book webinar series: One-hour online presentation with an audio conference call and a live question and answer session (presentations available follow each event)
- You Call the Shots: Self-paced, web-based education program on each vaccine and vaccine-related topic
- Make Clinical Resources Readily Available to Staff
Another important part of keeping up to date with immunization recommendations is ensuring resources are readily available to your staff. In addition to immunization schedules, CDC provides clinical guidelines, job aids, videos, and more. These resources are available here.
- Assess a Child’s Vaccination Status at Every Visit
Make sure all practice staff know that checking a child’s vaccination status at every visit (well visits, sick visits, and follow-up visits) is a priority. You should check your state Immunization Information System to identify which vaccines the child has already received along with screening for any contraindications and precautions before giving any vaccines.All eligible vaccines should be given in the same visit. There are no known benefits to spacing out vaccines — it just leaves children vulnerable to diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.By assessing vaccination status at every visit, you can reduce missed opportunities to vaccinate children and reinforce the message for parents that vaccinations are important.
- Give Strong and Compelling Recommendations for Immunization
Research has shown an effective recommendation from a healthcare professional is the main reason parents decide to vaccinate. All staff can reinforce strong recommendations.When talking about the vaccines that a child will get that day, use the “presumptive approach” — assume parents will vaccinate. For example, “Michael is going to get seven vaccines today: DTaP, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, rotavirus, Hib, pneumococcal, and polio.” This approach has proven to be more effective than asking parents what they want to do about vaccines.Other tips for strengthening your recommendations for immunization include:
- Explain the importance of each vaccine and every dose
- Share personal experiences with a vaccine preventable disease
- Explain why you vaccinate your own children
- Help Parents Feel Supported by Welcoming Questions and Knowing How to Answer Them
Keep in mind that most parents will have questions, even if they already plan to vaccinate. Welcoming parent questions when they are asked will help parents feel supported in their decision to vaccinate. You can find suggested answers to frequently asked questions here.If you are unsure of an answer to a question, refer the question to the doctor, nurse, or other vaccine expert in your practice.
- Give Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) and Handouts to Answer Specific Questions
Giving out Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) and other handouts is another way to answer questions and show parents the value of immunization. Federal law requires a VIS be given at every vaccine visit.It’s best to share the VIS before administering any vaccine. Parents are unlikely to read a VIS if you give it to them as they are walking out the door.
- Sample Auto Text Dot Phrase
Information About Immunization
We are so excited that you want to learn more about protecting your child through on-time immunization! Our healthcare professionals trust these websites:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- [list additional credible websites]
Please call us at (xxx) xxx-xxxx and ask to speak with [NAME] if you have any questions.
Make Immunization Resources Easy for Parents to Find
You can save time by helping parents get their questions answered before they meet with you and making immunization information easy to find. Ensure resources are easily accessible by:
- Including the immunization schedulepdf icon and other handouts in new patient packets
- Posting parent-friendly versions of the immunization schedules in exam rooms
- Syndicating CDC web content on your website
- Posting a web button on your website that links to CDC’s vaccine website for parents
- Customizing your electronic medical records to include information like dot-phrases that can easily be printed and given to parents
- Schedule Follow-Up Vaccinations Before the Child Leaves the Office
Encourage parents to schedule their child’s next immunization appointment before leaving the office and ensure this appointment falls within the recommended timeframe of the CDC schedule. If a parent defers scheduling for any reason, offer to call them a few days later. During checkout, tell older children that they did a great job and offer them a sticker or other small prize.
- Remind Parents About Upcoming Immunization Appointments and Contact Those Who Miss Appointments
Ongoing communication is essential in making sure parents stay on schedule with their child’s vaccinations. Remind parents about the importance of immunization in between their child’s well visits to your practice. This can include reminder calls, texts, emails, and postcards. If a child comes in for a sick visit, remind the parents about immunizations. Lastly, if a patient misses an appointment, call the parents to follow up. During your follow ups, remind parents why you are being so diligent about reminders — because their child is not fully protected until they receive all doses.