Six tips for health officials looking to build vaccine confidence in pregnant women

A recent AHA webinar brought together leaders from the association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and healthcare organizations nationwide. In an effort to increase the number of pregnant women vaccinated against COVID-19, health officials have shared their key takeaways to help doctors and clinicians better protect pregnant women against COVID-19.

Here are their ideas:

  1. Take more time. When discussing COVID-19 vaccines with pregnant patients, clinicians are encouraged to take their time and exercise patience and empathy. With high patient volumes and the public health crisis, doctors are often pressed for time, but healthcare leaders during the webinar stressed the importance of taking more time to respond to mental health issues, safety issues and to dispel any myths surrounding COVID-19 vaccines on pregnant women. people. Some pregnant people harbor mistrust of the vaccine and/or providers, which often stems from misinformation from family and friends or media coverage. Taking the time to clear up any misconceptions can help patients in the long run.
  2. The choice of words matters. Healthcare leaders can focus on choosing words carefully, eliminating unconscious biases, and asking patients how they are feeling instead of making assumptions in an effort to improve patient outcomes. Experts agreed that language barriers can often be an issue, necessitating taking extra time during visits, speaking with respect and ensuring cultural competency when interacting with a wide range of patients.
  3. Improve patient access to care. Focusing on meeting patients where they are can go a long way to gaining trust, respect and humility. With the increase in telemedicine visits throughout the pandemic, more patients were able to see a provider when they needed it. Rural patients in particular can benefit from virtual care by eliminating the need to drive hours to see a doctor.
  4. Consider the social determinants of health. The need to recognize the societal factors that influence health is now more important than ever. Examining a community’s needs and leveraging partnerships such as community health workers – who have already established a relationship of trust with pregnant women and are a resource for patients to obtain honest information – does not will only serve to better reach patients and improve their understanding of decision-making. Leaders can ensure that CHWs and other professionals can better integrate into maternal care teams.
  5. Find allies, community partnerships. When addressing pregnant patients, clinicians need to deliver consistent messages before and during pregnancy. Additionally, leveraging other clinical partners such as primary care physicians, nurses, midwives, and others in the community who are having similar conversations can help counter misinformation. Hospitals, health systems, and others can work with organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, and the AHA to ensure providers are aware of current recommendations and share these resources with colleagues and staff to have conversations with patients.
  6. Seize every opportunity to educate. There are several points of contact for communicating with patients about the vaccine. Take advantage of every visit with unvaccinated patients to discuss concerns, highlight data, and listen. Physicians can model the behaviors of their emerging residents, taking the initiative to have difficult conversations with patients. “We have the data to show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective,” said Dana Meaney-Delman, MD, chief of the CDC’s Infant Outcomes Research and Prevention Branch. “I am saddened that we still have these low vaccination rates. What we’re trying to do is get the message across that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks.

For more resources, visit the AHA’s website and continue the conversation on the AHA’s Living Learning Network webpage.

Comments are closed.