Patients get mixed (and sometimes blatantly false) messages about the COVID-19 vaccine from news sources, family and friends. Concepts surrounding the need for clinical trials to demonstrate safety, efficacy, and dosing are challenging to understand for many. As our knowledge of the virus continues to grow and evolve, guidance from health experts changes, which leads to more confusion and suspicion. Studies show that patients trust their personal physicians, and allergists are in a position to explain the necessary steps involved in drug and vaccine discovery to patients in an effort to help them understand timeline, expectations, and why some early claims will not pan out.
Effective communication resources
- The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) continues to follow public opinion on COVID-19 vaccination. The latest data show 61% of adults being vaccinated or intending to do so, while only 13% say they definitely will not get the vaccine (the "definitely will not" percent is unchanged since December). A number of statements were tested to see which led participants in the "wait and see" group to most likely say they would get vaccinated. Statements that were most impactful include:
- Vaccines are nearly 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
- Scientists have been working on the technology used in the new COVID-19 vaccines for 20 years.
- More than 100,000 people from diverse backgrounds took part in the vaccine trials.
- The vast majority of doctors who have been offered the vaccine have taken it.
- There is no cost to get the vaccine.
- Listen to episode 45 of the AAAAI podcast series: Addressing COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy. (March 24, 2021)
- The CDC has produced a comprehensive resource for providers on counseling patients about getting a vaccine, including communication points and ideas about proactive patient outreach.
- Recent articles from the AMA cover the Do’s and Don’ts for Talking with Patients about COVID-19 Vaccines and COVID Vaccine Hesitancy: 10 Tips for Talking with Patients
- The NIH Behavior and Social Sciences Research Coordinating committee has released resources on how to effectively communicate about the COVID-19 vaccine:
- COVID-19 Vaccination Communication
- A Communicator's Tip Sheet for COVID-19 Vaccination
- The CDC has also released training and educational materials for healthcare professionals. This includes information to guide conversations with and answer questions from patients regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
- The Public Health Communications Collaborative maintains an ongoing compilation of tough questions related to COVID-19, with suggested answers.
- Answers to the Top 6 Concerns about Vaccines from Your Local Epidemiologist. Republished with permission from Katelyn Jetelina, MPH, PhD.
Other helpful information/resources
- What to tell your patients to do (and not do) with their vaccination cards:
- Cover up personal information and vaccine lot number before taking a selfie with the card,
- have a backup copy,
- skip card lamination, if a booster dose becomes necessary it will be hard to add onto a laminated card.
- replacement can be complicated,
- There's no easy access to the data,
- share vaccination status with your doctor. "Things to tell patients about their COVID-19 vaccine card" from the AMA
- The CDC is encouraging use of the v-safe smartphone tool to report any side effects that occur after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. Patients are asked to complete surveys and health check-ins after the vaccination, and the tool will provide a reminder of a second dose if necessary.
- A discussion on Clinical Endpoints for Evaluating Efficacy in COVID-19 Vaccine Trials was published. (Ann Intern Med; October 22, 2020)