Vaccines are counted among the great achievements of modern medicine but their ability to protect public health has unfortunately eroded in recent years. Parental concerns about childhood vaccinations have led some to the decision to not vaccinate or to under-vaccinate their kids.
COVID hasn’t helped, with most recent decreases in non-coronavirus vaccination rates likely due to worries about the virus and limited access amid lockdowns. A correlating result of the dip in rates is the increase in the frequency of diseases that had been close to elimination in many areas. If fact, reported worldwide measles cases increased by 79% in the first 2 months of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021.
A Top-10 Health Concern
The World Health Organization (WHO) named vaccine hesitancy as one of its top 10 public health concerns in 2019, and public health departments have an important role to play in quelling parents’ concerns – and the concerns of any under-immunized individual.
People are more likely to trust community medical professionals than governments or news outlets, according to the WHO. These professionals know their communities best and are in a good position to understand concerns and other barriers to vaccination. The CDC identifies stronger health care practices such as more in-depth discussions with hesitant parents as key levers in reducing hesitancy.
Vaccine Hesitancy Only Part of the Problem
Interestingly, however, the American Association for Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports that a grassroots organization in Boston, GOTVax, has found that vaccine hesitancy, at least for COVID, is not as big a factor as access.
Knowing that the communities hardest hit by coronavirus are also the ones facing the biggest barriers to vaccination, GOTVax formed to address the problem. Their goal was to bridge the gap between mass vaccination events and the doorstep of the unvaccinated. What they learned in the process is that access was in fact a bigger problem than apprehension about receiving the COVID vaccine.
They were “surprised by the number of individuals who [had] been eligible for months but were not yet vaccinated due to difficulty navigating the vaccine sign-up process,” according to the AAMC report.
The experience of GOTVax echoes findings of the WHO, which notes the “inconvenience in accessing vaccines” as a top reason why people don’t choose to vaccinate, not just against COVID, but any disease.
The American Immunization Registry Association (AIRA) similarly attributes “pockets of need,” geographic or demographic areas of low vaccination, at least partially to “lack of easy, affordable access to vaccines.”
Reduce Barriers to Vaccine Access
ezEMRx can help your clinic minimize the friction between an individual’s desire to be vaccinated and their ability to access immunizations. Our EMR is designed specifically to help public health departments manage the health of their communities and includes a mass vaccination tool that is user-friendly – for both health workers and the people they serve.
Vaccine sign-ups are easy for patients to access via a pre-assigned link, and they’re simple to complete, requiring only basic information. Once the patient arrives at the vaccination site, the speed with which he or she can complete the vaccination task allows for a positive experience that seeds interest in future vax events in their community.