Incorporating Conversations with Medical Providers into COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Vaccine hesitancy is a significant hurdle experienced in the US. In response to this, a team of researchers analyzed adults who reported a medical provider recommended the COVID-19 vaccine, studied vaccination status, and general attitudes.

How can we overcome roadblocks to getting people vaccinated for COVID-19? The United States is still facing hurdles in getting people vaccinated, let alone boosted. Now more than ever—with a novel variant of concern (Omicron), and a growing 7-day average of over 275,000 cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 431,567 new cases reported on December 28th. Sadly, only 61.9% of the US population is fully vaccinated.

Vaccine hesitancy is a significant hurdle we’ve experienced in the United States. From politicization to confusion regarding breakthrough infections, to overall belief in COVID-19, these have been challenges for public health efforts. One thing that can often help breakthrough this roadblock, is a conversation with a medical provider who recommends getting the vaccine.

In response to this, a team of researchers analyzed adults who reported that a medical provider recommended the COVID-19 vaccine, studied vaccination status and general attitudes within the United States from April to September of 2021.

Reported in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the research team utilized the National Immunization Survey–Adult COVID Module (NIS-ACM) to assess the prevalence of report of a provider recommending the vaccine and then subsequent coverage. The authors noted that, “Prevalence of report of a provider recommendation for COVID-19 vaccination among adults increased from 34.6%, during April 22–May 29, to 40.5%, during August 29–September 25, 2021. Adults who reported a provider recommendation for COVID-19 vaccination were more likely to have received ≥1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (77.6%) than were those who did not receive a recommendation (61.9%) (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 1.12). Report of a provider recommendation was associated with concern about COVID-19 (aPR = 1.31), belief that COVID-19 vaccines are important to protect oneself (aPR = 1.15), belief that COVID-19 vaccination was very or completely safe (aPR = 1.17), and perception that many or all of their family and friends had received COVID-19 vaccination (aPR = 1.19).”

Ultimately, these findings underscore the importance of healthcare providers in encouraging vaccination, but also how trusted they are by their patients. Ensuring providers have access to up-to-date information, educational resources, and the time to talk with patients about vaccines. The ability for providers to not only address questions and misunderstandings about vaccines is so utterly important for general health, but especially during a pandemic. As the authors noted, “empowering health care providers to recommend vaccination to their patients could help reinforce confidence in, and increase coverage with, COVID-19 vaccines, particularly among groups known to have lower COVID-19 vaccination coverage, including younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and rural residents.” As such, more efforts should be made to ensure support for providers to have these conversations, which are not always possible in such fast-moving medical settings we often see. Increasing access to medical providers, treatments, and vaccines will be a vital part to COVID-19 response, meaning that now more than ever, we need to invest in these efforts and empower medical providers to recommend these life-saving vaccines.