The COVID-19 vaccine isn’t a far-off hope anymore. After months of testing and development, the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is a reality. It’s received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization and is being distributed to individual states. Similarly, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine received FDA emergency use authorization Dec. 18 and is shipping to a hospital or state health department near you.
The government is rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines in stages as more vaccine dose quantities become available. Thus, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time because there will be a sense of urgency as available supplies are disbursed. Phase 1 includes frontline health workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Phase 2 of the distribution will probably include workers in essential and critical industries, people at high risk due to underlying health conditions, and those 65 years and older. This will likely come in January or February. The general public is slated to receive the vaccine later during Phase 3, possibly as soon as early spring.
So, the vaccine is either here already or on it’s on its way. What do we do next? To answer this and related questions healthcare organizations will likely have, we’ve created a COVID-19 Vaccine Checklist. This downloadable document outlines the steps health providers can take to keep patients informed about receiving the vaccine.
- Scheduling Staff: Before you schedule any patients to receive the vaccine, you’ll want to be sure that your medical staff is vaccinated. You can schedule them to receive the vaccine as you would patients. Remember everyone needs to receive two doses of the vaccine so schedule and send reminders accordingly.
- Pre-Vaccine Survey: Vaccine reluctance is real. About 20 percent of Americans have said they will refuse the vaccine when it’s available. In some groups, like African Americans, the number who say they won’t get the vaccination is closer to 50 percent. To help you understand community pushback of the vaccine, consider sending out a pre-vaccine survey. It can help you discover who is willing and where there may be challenges and opportunities for patient engagement.
- Start Messaging Now: Start educating patients now about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine to tackle vaccine hesitancy concerns and misinformation. Share safety information such as vaccine FAQs, myths and other resources to help them understand that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been thoroughly tested and are safe and effective.
- Reminder Best Practices: Plan automated reminders to patients who have scheduled appointments to receive the vaccine. Make sure to use patients’ preferred communication methods and also include pre-visit instructions about ongoing safety protocols, park and text waiting, and what to do if a patient has an adverse reaction.
- Vaccine Follow-up: Send group messages or surveys after patients receive the vaccine to check in on them and track adverse effects.
- Use Two-Way Text: Remember to use real-time text messaging to support vaccine rollout.
A little bit of preparation and advanced planning can go a long way in ensuring that your patients and staff get their much-anticipated vaccinations in a timely and orderly fashion.
For the complete list of all the tips and instructions for preparing for the vaccine, download the full COVID-19 Vaccination Checklist. You can also sign up here for ongoing series of blog posts that include tips, tools and stories about the COVID-19 vaccine.