Golisano Children’s Hospital (GCH) Pediatric Practice in Rochester, NY has demonstrated success in vaccinating eligible patients and their caregivers by offering the vaccine to both during pediatric visits, providing a model for addressing hesitancy and barriers to vaccines, according to an Oct. 8 article published in JAMA Pediatrics’ Viewpoint.
The article, “COVID-19 Vaccination for Health Care Professionals in the Pediatric Medical Home: A Call to Action to Improve Vaccination Rates in the Community,” outlines how pediatric practices are well positioned to improve vaccination coverage in the community by health care providers working with their own patients in the pediatric medical home – a convenient place where input from trusted physicians can help allay vaccine hesitancy.
“Pediatricians talk to patients and families about vaccines on a daily basis and have a lot of experience discussing vaccine hesitations and concerns. Parents are the most likely to rely on their pediatrician for information about vaccines, and a doctor’s recommendation is associated with a higher uptake rate for specific vaccines,” wrote the study’s co-authors, Andrea Milne Wenderlich, MD, Cynthia Rand, MD, MPH, and Jill Halterman, MD, MPH, GCH faculty who serve in the Department of General Pediatrics and as pediatricians at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Pediatric Practice.
The pediatric practice at Golisano Children’s Hospital serves more than 13,000 patients, most of whom are children from minority communities living in poor areas of Rochester. The document outlines several potential barriers to COVID-19 vaccination, including:
Difficulty with transportation/time off from work, hesitation related to longstanding distrust of historically racist medical and research practices, and concerns about potential side effects of vaccines
To address these concerns, the GCH Pediatric Practice has secured funds to vaccinate pediatric patients and their caregivers during regular office visits and at several extracurricular clinics in August and September. To implement this plan, the clinic arranged additional staff with support from Strong Memorial Hospital, ensured adequate vaccine supplies, and encouraged all team members who interact with patients and families in the practice (e.g., physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, behavioral health specialists) to ask about the COVID-19 vaccine, offer an opportunity to speak with a doctor, and inform them about the option of receiving the vaccine in the office if desired.
According to the article, the practice found several positive results with this approach. Caregivers expressed appreciation for the convenience of getting the vaccine while they were already visiting their child, and several said they felt more comfortable and confident getting the vaccine into pediatric practice. Many caregivers chose to receive the vaccine out of solidarity with their child who was also eligible to be vaccinated. In total, more than 60 health care providers were vaccinated in the first month the vaccine was offered, with more than 1,400 COVID-19 vaccine doses to date.
This initiative showed that hesitation can be allayed by providing healthcare providers with a comfortable and accessible environment to discuss the vaccine with a trusted provider.”
Jill Halterman, MD, MPH, Division Director General Pediatrics
“A lot of parents were grateful for the opportunity to get vaccinated with their kids, saying they just felt more comfortable getting the vaccine here because they’ve been coming for years and have a trusting relationship with us,” Heather said. Wensley, N.P. nurse manager of the practice and manager of Advanced Practice Providers for GCH.
The success of this program indicates that pediatricians can effectively address the problems in vaccine hesitant communities, and that it can serve as a model for other pediatric practices across the country.
“With the Delta variant of the virus still active in our community, it is critical to get as many eligible children and caregivers vaccinated as possible to limit the chance of spreading infection and further disrupting personal school.” ,” said Halterman, “child clinics have an important opportunity to contribute to this.”
Rochester University Medical Center
Wenderlich, AM, et al. (2021) COVID-19 vaccination for caregivers in the pediatric medical home. A call to action to improve vaccination coverage in the community. JAMA Pediatrics. doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.4214.