Overcoming vaccine fatigue and hesitancy
August is National Immunization Awareness month, serving as reminder to stay up to date on routine vaccines such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) or diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP). And now, the annual push for flu vaccines is likely to include COVID boosters, based off of proposals made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January of this year. In fact, the FDA met on June 15 to “discuss and make recommendations for SARS-CoV-2 strain(s) for updated COVID-19 vaccines for use in the United States beginning in the fall of 2023.”
Even before the pandemic there was a portion of the population that refused to receive their annual flu shot. And while these vaccinations are important and the best way to protect yourself from infection or serious complications, a COVID booster in addition to the flu shot could lead to vaccine fatigue, which is defined as “people’s inertia or inaction towards vaccine information or instruction due to perceived burden and burnout.”
In other words, with each additional vaccine recommendation, fewer people may be interested in receiving it. This has the potential impact on vaccination rates across other vaccine-preventable illnesses such as measles, whooping cough, chicken pox and meningitis.
- Take time to understand an individual’s concerns about vaccines.
- Provide detailed facts and correct any misconceptions.
- Personalize the message to address specific concerns.
The CDC also offers a variety of resources and strategies to help healthcare providers encourage their patients to get on a routine vaccine schedule.
Receiving at least two annual vaccines (flu and COVID) may seem overwhelming to patients but by understanding their questions or concerns, vaccine advocates and healthcare providers can better address patient concerns thoughtfully and directly. As we move forward, keep these strategies in mind and continue to be on the lookout for updates regarding COVID boosters. For more information on vaccine fatigue and hesitancy, go here.