Recent Approvals in Vaccination Against SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron Subvariants - Episode 10

Initiating Patient Conversations Around SARS-CoV-2 Booster Shots

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Expert nurse practitioner Wendy Wright and Dr Madeline King share their approach to conversations with patients on optimizing SARS-CoV-2 booster vaccine administration.

Rodney Rohde, SV, SM, MB (ASCP), FACSc: Let’s transition to our next segment, which is going to be a fun one with several of you. Let’s talk about conversations with our patients. This has been the theme of this conversation, which is a good one. Let’s talk about conversations with patients and others who are considering getting vaccines or other types of things surrounding COVID-19. How would you or how should health care practitioners in general communicate with their patients to determine which booster shot is best? Do you comment on composition? Do you get down into the weeds of that booster? Do you talk about safety data? How do you initiate conversations with your patients?

Madeline King, PharmD, BCIDP: You have to include all those things, but you have to include them in terms that the patient will understand. Because if you’re using terminology above a level that they can understand, they’re going to tune you out, or they’re going to be afraid to ask questions. It’s important to understand the audience that you’re talking with and to speak with them on that level. It’s important to tell them why the vaccine is important, how it protects them, why the booster is important, how it keeps them out of the hospital, and the safety data that we have. It’s important to emphasize that we don’t have beyond 2 years of data, but the data we have are really good. Reinforce all those points.

In the beginning, I was volunteering, giving COVID-19 vaccines at a clinic where most of the patients were Spanish-speaking. A lot of issues I came across were being able to communicate to patients in a language that they understood—not even on a level that they understood, but in a language that they understood. We have a lack of interpreters and translators in some of the health care settings that the 3 of us work in. If you aren’t in a hospital with an interpreter phone or an interpreter iPad, if you’re out in the community, that may be really challenging. We could do a better job of having people who can tell patients in a language that they understand what they’re getting and why they’re getting it. It might increase vaccine uptake if we can speak with people on a better level.

Wendy Wright, DNP, ANP-BC, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, FNAP: I’m a little less scientific. I say, “We do Moderna on Monday, and Pfizer on Friday. I’m looking at your vaccine record, and it appears you’re due for your COVID-19 booster. Which day would you rather have your vaccine, Monday or Friday?” Then we’ll say, “Put them on the schedule for their vaccine.” I’m a little less formal with the science. Then if they ask me questions, I’m prepared to answer. I’ll say, “You’re also due for your flu shot. Let’s get that on board today. You can certainly have it when you come back, but we can get it today, and then we’ll book you for the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The World Health Organization issued a statement about a month ago. They said that there are 25 million children who have missed vaccinations as a result of this pandemic. This pandemic has taken us back 30 years in the world of pediatric vaccines. It has been our biggest backslide in the last decade or more. As providers, we need to vaccinate at every opportunity. We need to find ways to make it easy for our patients. For months, we gave vaccines in the parking lot at our office because people were too afraid to come in. We did it in their car in a tent we had set up.

Make that strong recommendation, meet them where they are, present the recommendation, and then if they have questions, answer them. Someone said to me, “You’re recommending this for me. Have you had it?” I said, “Of course I’ve had it. I would never recommend anything different from what I’d recommend for me and my child. And I love my child most days.” I have a teen. “What I’m recommending for you is what I recommend for my family. I would never do anything different from that.” They say, “OK, get me signed up.” Sometimes it’s that personal appeal. I play the mom card. I’m not afraid to play the mom card, but I use different cards depending on the person I’m talking to.

Transcript Edited for Clarity