For Healthcare Providers & Communities
What Healthcare Providers Can Do
Success in increasing immunization rates in younger populations is often credited to changes in office practices that frame every office visit as an opportunity to update immunizations. Specific evidence-based practices include:1
- Set up reminders for you and/or your staff, such as prompts in patients’ charts or computer databases, to help providers and other clinic staff know when adolescents are due for vaccinations. In one study, provider reminders increased vaccinations by an average of 18 percentage points.2
- Set up reminders for patients to alert them when vaccinations are due or overdue. Reminders can be via telephone, text, letter, postcard, or other systems used in your practice.
- Establish standing orders for vaccines that authorize nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare personnel to assess a client's immunization status and administer vaccinations without the need for examination or direct order from the attending provider.
- Post recommendations and have informational materials available in the office or practice's website. Immunization schedules for preteens and teens (ages 7 to 18) are available (also in Spanish), along with other print materials on vaccines.
- Communicate with adolescent patients and their parents about the importance of vaccines. You can use this tip sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for talking point ideas for the HPV vaccine.
- Provide incentives or rewards to patients and/or their families for completing certain tasks (e.g., keeping an appointment, returning for a vaccination series, getting a vaccine, etc.). These incentives or rewards can be monetary or not, and they are distinct from efforts to reduce the costs of vaccines or their delivery.
- Assess efforts and collect feedback at the individual and group provider levels to see ways to improve vaccination programs.
Many other resources for healthcare providers are available:
- The CDC's "Information for Health Care Professionals about Adolescent Vaccines" fact sheet includes strategies for ensuring that teen patients become fully vaccinated, as well as information on side effects and other details.
- The recommendations mentioned above are also available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and for American Indian/Alaska Native populations. Healthcare providers may also want to post this fact sheet for parents on the risks and responsibilities they face if choosing not to vaccinate their child.
- The CDC also has a variety of web-based tools for providers to encourage immunizations. Use these e-cards and online videos to tell adolescents and their families about the importance of vaccinations in adolescence.
What Communities Can Do
The Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide) has evaluated strategies to increase community vaccination rates. It recommends that communities implement a coordinated combination of strategies to increase demand for vaccines and ease access for individuals and families. Its recommendations for adolescent immunizations include:3
- Creating requirements for immunizations prior to entry into school, and college.
- Establishing vaccination programs in community settings. Programs in Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offices reach many infants and young children with early childhood vaccines, preventing the need for many "catch-up" vaccinations in adolescence. Additionally, schools and child care programs can provide additional avenues for adolescents to get vaccines and can also be sources of information or referrals.
Content last reviewed on October 21, 2016