Healthcare protocols are changing continuously during these times of the global pandemic. One thing that retains its importance is keeping patients up to date on their immunizations. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that “ensuring immunization services are maintained or reinitiated is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks and reducing the burden of respiratory illness during the upcoming influenza season”.
Routine immunization standards affect all ages. Young children heading to school, aging adults, patients with chronic conditions, and even college kids need to have new vaccinations or boosters to keep themselves protected against illnesses that can threaten their health.
We are coming upon the busiest time of the year for vaccines. All patients receiving immunizations, including annual flu shots, want to avoid discomfort, so you may want to consider administering topical anesthetics or distraction techniques prior to the procedure. Since children will need to have their immunizations up to date before starting back to school, reviewing our blog Keeping Pediatric Visits Fast and Efficient for tips and tricks may offer ways to keep the children more comfortable during their visits.
Here are 4 quick tips on how to keep immunizations on the forefront of your and your patients minds.
- UPDATE – The CDC updates their immunization schedule annually based upon the recommendations from the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP). The 2020 recommended schedules for infants, children and adult immunizations can be printed and made available to both staff and patients/parents.
- REVIEW - Because many child wellness visits and annual physicals were delayed with the pandemic lockdowns, your patients may have missed an important milestone. If your patient is in their early 50s’, it is possible they have not received the Shingles vaccination. A young adult may need to be tested for MMR antibodies. A small child may have missed the third dose of their Hep B immunization. Reviewing patient charts can help reduce any gaps between immunizations.
- ENCOURAGE- Because of COVID-19 concerns, many patients may be hesitant to return to the doctor’s office. Reach out to them individually to explain the safety measures that have been integrated into patient visits and reinforce the importance of being immunized against any disease or virus during these times. This personal encouragement may help to reduce fears about visiting their healthcare provider during these uncertain times.
- INFORM – During their visit, inform the patient about the recommended immunizations that are due. Let them know why these are important and risks if the vaccine is not administered along with any side effects that may occur. If more than one dose is needed for a vaccination to be effective, make sure to schedule follow-up appointments before the patient leaves the office.
Immunizations are an important part of preventive care and need to be high on our radar all year long. Whether the pneumonia vaccine for those over the age of 65, the HPV for those that are reaching 11-12 years of age or the fourth dose of DTAP around 15 months of age, immunizations can help keep patients protected against diseases and viruses that can create further anguish in a community that is already stressed from novel viruses.