It turns out that the word of mouth approach to championing the COVID vaccine to on-the-fence friends and family may be more powerful than we thought.
According to a new study by Kaiser Family Foundation, half of the people (54 percent) who said they’d wait and see how the vaccine rollout progressed chose to get the shot after hearing personal testimony from their family, friends, and healthcare providers.
The research also found that one in five people who voiced any degree of vaccine hesitancy, from the undecided to those adamantly against receiving it, ended up getting at least their first dose as of July. Of those, 25 percent said they got the vaccine after family members were inoculated without any side effects.
Most importantly for healthcare organizations, 11 percent of those surveyed said they gave the vaccine the green light after speaking with their personal doctors. For providers, this reconfirms the fact that most people view their medical professionals as a trusted source of information about the COVID vaccine. One survey revealed that 87 percent of patients want to hear from their healthcare providers about the vaccine. That puts hospitals and health system clinicians in an advantageous position of being able to talk to patients about their concerns, educate them, and encourage them to get vaccinated.
And it’s none too soon. With COVID cases across the country doubling in recent weeks and the easily spreadable delta variant proliferating, vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible has become a renewed national priority. The following are seven ideas, approaches, tactics, etc., for providers to consider when promoting the vaccine to patients who haven’t yet taken the opportunity to receive the vaccine:
Clinicians should talk to every unvaccinated patient about the vaccine. Doctors and medical professionals can leverage their expertise as a trusted source of healthcare information to raise the topic, and find out if patients have lingering concerns about receiving it. Physicians can share their own experience and testimony about getting inoculated for COVID.
Providers can share valuable vaccine patient education information and testimony. The organization’s social media channels, website, and patient portal offer great opportunities for providers to share videos, photos, testimonials, and education about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Showing patients that medical staff themselves have personally gotten the vaccine may help sway fence sitters.
Remember to use persuasive messaging. Be sure to stress the fact that not only are the vaccines safe and effective, but they’re also free, and that getting the vaccine will help patients greatly reduce the chances that they’ll spread the virus to friends and family. Getting vaccinated also helps protect children ages 11 and under who are currently ineligible to receive a shot.
Encourage vaccinated patients to talk to unvaccinated family and friends about getting the vaccine. Based on the data from the survey, family members and friends who receive the vaccine can be very influential in successfully recommending it to unvaccinated people they know. Providers can answer patients’ questions about how to talk to family and friends about the vaccine and recommend resources they can turn to for reliably-sourced vaccine information.
Emphasize the vaccines’ effectiveness in light of recent case increases and the delta variant. Providers can also influence vaccine hesitant patients by updating them about the current wave of case increases and by sharing that many of the new cases are people who were not yet vaccinated. Share that the vaccines are highly effective protection against the fast-spreading delta variant which is now the most common variant of the virus.
Easily distribute patient education about the vaccines through group texting. Providers with the ability to send group text messages can send patients links to trusted sources of educational information and resources that help answer hesitant patients’ questions and overcome their concerns.
Offer convenient walk-in vaccine clinics. People lead busy and hectic lives and some unvaccinated simply have not had the time or opportunity to get their doses. Providers that are able to can offer appointment-free walk-in vaccinations so that patients can drop by when they have a few minutes and get vaccinated without having to schedule a visit.
For more valuable information, tips, and best practices on continuing to rollout the vaccine to as many of your patients as possible, check out the guide, “The COVID Vaccine: A Resource Guide.”