Perspective: Building Vaccine Confidence

As more vaccine supplies become available and more jurisdictions expand priority categories or do away with them altogether, hospitals and health systems continue to work overtime to serve as access points. This good news comes with a footnote, however: Reports find that many people are not yet ready to get their COVID-19 vaccination, citing the need for more information or concerns with how the vaccines were developed.

In fact, according to a March 20 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, while 52% of health care workers have already been vaccinated, 18% have no plans to do so and another 12% are undecided. These percentages are roughly on par with those of the general public. 

It should be noted, however, that among doctors and nurses the poll identified higher vaccination rates. And health care workers working in hospitals topped the list for receiving a vaccine. Those same doctors and nurses are consistently identified as the most trusted and credible sources of information on the vaccine and are well positioned to help a colleague make the choice to get vaccinated. 

Getting America vaccinated will take all of us – particularly those who work in hospitals and health systems – to continue caring for family, friends and neighbors; answering questions from a concerned mom-to-be or curious relative; sharing our experience two days, two weeks and two months after being vaccinated. 

The AHA has been working – and continues to work – on several fronts to help support the field and the public on these critical efforts. 

  • Ready to Use Resources – We have developed and shared information and tools that hospitals and health systems can use to communicate effectively with their communities and team members on vaccines in languages they prefer. These include public service announcements, social media resources, posters, checklists and many other materials. We also segment them by audience so you’ll be able to find resources for communicating with health care workers, consumers or community-based organizations. 
  • Sharing Best Practices – As part of our work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are highlighting successful strategies and innovative partnerships to accelerate vaccinations and help people be ready to get their shot when it’s available to them. On March 30, we’ll host a webinar with leaders from Atrium Health and American Airlines, who will share how they have worked together on mass vaccination events in Charlotte, N.C. You can still register and participate in next week’s event. 
  • Focused Efforts on Communities of Color – We’re working with many different groups and coalitions, including the Black Coalition Against COVID-19, the National Urban League, UnidosUS and others to disseminate and amplify accurate, accessible information to communities most impacted by COVID-19. Our webpage includes resources to equip hospitals and health systems with culturally appropriate ways to engage patient populations and communities that are disproportionately impacted by the virus.

Helping people understand the benefits of getting vaccinated – for themselves and their loved ones – and connecting them with information to answer their questions are crucial components in our quest to end COVID-19. And everyone can play an important role.