All Californians ages 16 and older became eligible to receive FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccinations beginning April 15. As of April 19, one in four Californians was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but vaccination rates vary greatly by county, and public health experts agree: Achieving Achieving broad inoculation against the coronavirus is essential to preventing additional virus variants from emerging and causing breakthrough infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Wider inoculation is also central to a safe reopening of California’s economy.
Limited vaccine supply and too few vaccination sites account for some disparate vaccination rates across the state, but vaccine hesitancy, defined by the World Health Organization as “delayed acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services,” remains a significant concern and contributor to California’s low vaccination rate overall. A statewide survey (see page 17) conducted in March by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 14% of surveyed adults in the state would “definitely not get the vaccine.”
The public is more likely to trust information they receive about the COVID-19 vaccine when that information comes from public health entities or health care professionals. In fact, a recommendation from a health care provider is one of the strongest determinants of vaccine acceptance, recent research shows.
As trusted health professionals, dentists are positioned daily to discuss COVID-19 vaccination with their patients and the public, instill confidence about the COVID-19 vaccine and ultimately influence their patients’ decision-making about the vaccine.
Dentists can, for example, include a question about COVID-19 vaccination on the patient intake form, which will provide an opportunity to address vaccination with the patient during their visit. The dentist might start the conversation with “I can see from today’s intake form that you have not received your COVID-19 vaccine.” According to the CDA resource Instilling Vaccine Confidence, such announcements demonstrate the health care provider’s confidence in the vaccine and establish vaccination as the norm.
The new CDA resource also provides specific communication strategies dentists can adopt in the office to promote vaccine acceptance among their patients, such as showing empathy and providing facts to counter vaccine misinformation.
CDA added nine resources to the COVID-19 Vaccine Information Toolkit to promote vaccine education and awareness in the dental office and facilitate dentists’ conversations with patients. The toolkit, initially released in January, is intended to help dentists and their teams understand current information about the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine distribution and administration. It also provides best practices and resources for dentist employers.
The newest resources are:
CDA partnered with HealthNet to produce the vaccine discussion guide Proven Strategies Help Shorten Talks About the COVID-19 Vaccines. The guide provides evidence-based strategies for talking to patients based on their level of vaccine acceptance or hesitancy.
Access all the new resources and dozens more in the CDA COVID-19 Vaccine Information Toolkit.