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CDC: Physicians “the lynchpin” for boosting low vaccination rates

JAN 3, 2024 . 4 MIN READ

By Jennifer Lubell, Contributing News Writer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Health Alert Network Health Advisory on low vaccination rates against influenza, COVID-19 and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).

The “low vaccination rates, coupled with ongoing increases in national and international respiratory disease activity caused by multiple pathogens, including influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and RSV, could lead to more severe disease and increased health care capacity strain in the coming weeks,” says the advisory, which includes conversation guides, scripts and other tools for physicians and other health professionals to address the various reasons why patients forgo these essential vaccines.

Doubts about safety and effectiveness of vaccines, vaccine fatigue and time constraints are common reasons for low uptake. But in some cases, it’s because physicians aren’t bringing the subject up with their patients.

Doctors in particular “are the lynchpin” to patients getting vaccinated, said Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, director of the CDC. As one of the most trusted sources for patients, physicians can reframe conversations to encourage uptake, she said.

Physicians, for example, can remind patients that the U.S. has distributed over 700 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Yes, it is new but is one of the most looked at and studied vaccines that we’ve had in history,” said Dr. Cohen, who joined Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH, acting director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, for a fireside chat on the respiratory virus season.

Sandra Fryhofer, MD, the AMA’s liaison to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and immediate past chair of the AMA Board of Trustees, moderated this event. It was sponsored by the AMA and Project Firstline, a national collaborative led by the CDC that provides infection-control training and education to front-line health care workers and public health personnel, and hosted on the AMA Ed Hub™.

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