Nearly nine out of 10 primary care doctors say they discuss vaccines
with all their patients. I’m not sure what they’re saying or who
they’re staying it to, but about half of American adults say they’ve
never talked to their physician about immunizations other than the influenza
vaccine, and one in five don’t recall any vaccine discussion at all. These
and other interesting findings were reported at a recent NFID news
There also is a big disagreement about who starts the discussion. Almost
all physicians claim they or members of their staff bring up the topic of
immunizations. Surprise! Consumers report otherwise, with 45% saying that they,
not their physicians, are the first to mention vaccines.
So, are patients not listening, or are we not speaking?
Enough of the “we said, they said” debate. Let’s stop
pointing fingers and get to the core of the problem. We need to fix the
communication gap, because it has a very real, negative effect on our
Guess what is the greatest patient motivator regarding vaccines? We are!
In survey after survey, somewhere around 90% of adults say a strong
recommendation from their physician would motivate them to be immunized.
So we need to be explicit. We need to make sure that patients hear our
recommendations. We need to be firm when we talk about vaccines. And we need to
encourage the same forcefulness in our colleagues, especially primary care
physicians, who see patients most often — long before they come to us
infectious disease specialists.
I encourage all of us to think how we raise the subject. Are we
mentioning vaccines as we walk out the door? Or are we making it as basic a
part of every adult patient visit as blood pressure measurement? We need to be
clear and convincing. We need to leave no room for doubt.
We have the power. Let’s use it, at every opportunity; to be sure
patients know that they need vaccinations. And let’s be sure they receive
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