Not just for kids: How practices can encourage adult patients to get vaccinations

Physician practices can take steps to encourage adult patients to get vaccinations.

Talk about vaccinations, and many adults think of children. But people need vaccinations throughout their life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Adults need to keep vaccinations up to date because immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time and adults are at risk for different diseases, including influenza, the CDC says.

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Given the difficulty in getting some adults to follow vaccine recommendations, the American Medical Association has created a free online module to help create a team-based approach. Here are some steps the AMA recommends to encourage adult vaccinations:

Start with physicians. The main influencing factor in a patient deciding to get vaccinated is a doctor’s recommendation. Physicians can lead the team and require staff vaccinations as well.

Train team members in everything from vaccine fundamentals to communicating benefits and risks to patients. Team members should be prepared to address patient questions and concerns.

Have a standardized process to maximize vaccination rates. For example, identify patients who are due for vaccines and which ones they need.

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A new study, published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, examined the success of two nurse practitioner-managed clinics in vaccinating seniors. The stocking of vaccines within the NP-managed clinics, direct billing to Medicare for Part D vaccines and previsit care planning likely contributed to the high vaccination rates,” the researchers found.

The efforts are particularly important in light of an anti-vaccine movement that has caused some people to question the safety of vaccines.

The good news is that the Trump administration has appointed Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., to the director post at the CDC. She has publicly supported vaccines.