The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to stress that immunization—plus everyday hygiene—is the best way to avoid potentially deadly flu. Urgent care providers are in an especially good position to try to influence patients, as anyone feeling bad enough to seek immediate care may be susceptible to suggestions on how to avoid feeling even worse down the road. The CDC recommends six steps providers can take to encourage even reluctant patients to get a flu shot, as follows:
- Recommend the immunization. This is painfully simple, research shows that physician recommendation is the top reason people opt to get immunized.
- Offer the influenza vaccine. If a patient’s in an urgent care center, you know they’re looking for convenient care. Tell them you can give them the shot right then and there. If that doesn’t work, the next best thing is to develop a referral system to nearby pharmacies or other locations covered by the patient’s health plan.
- Address misconceptions. The CDC reports that the biggest misunderstanding patients have is that getting a flu shot could give them the flu. Stress that this is simply not true, based on unbiased clinical research. If they’ve put their health in your hands by coming to see you, you’ve clearly go a certain degree of credibility. Leverage it.
- Don’t use the nasal-spray immunization. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended against using the live, attenuated influenza vaccine given as a nasal spray for the 2016–2017 flu season. It was found to be less effective for the strain of flu anticipated this year. If patients complain that they don’t like shots, assure them they’ll like getting the flu even less.
- Tell seniors about higher-dose options. Around 90% of flu deaths occur in patients 65 and older. Ensure older patients know there are higher-dose options for them (and for people who may be immunocompromised). If you don’t have it on hand, find out who does so you can make an easy referral.