Healthcare providers including pediatricians, family physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, need to receive continuing vaccine education throughout their careers. The education of healthcare providers could be one initiative that your immunization program or coalition is looking to implement, or it may be one part in a larger, multi-component immunization campaign. The education topic(s) you choose should depend on the specific immunization challenges facing the providers in your community.
Possible educational topics include new vaccines and ACIP recommendations; school vaccination mandates/back-to-school vaccinations; influenza season; proper storage and handling of vaccines, proper vaccine administration; disease outbreaks; the importance of timely immunizations; the safety of vaccines; communicating with patients about vaccines; and the cocooning strategy. Cocooning is the vaccination of all close contacts of infants with influenza and pertussis vaccines to protect these children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination of pregnant women, a form of cocooning, is the most effective way protect both mom and baby. OB-GYNs, who may not have been vaccinating their patients in the past, will likely need additional immunization education. The Texas Department of State Health Services created a website to assist providers looking to implement the cocooning strategy in their office.
There are numerous ways for immunization programs and coalition staff to help educate providers about vaccines. Elements for provider education campaigns that your immunization program or coalition may want to consider include:
- Development and/or distribution of educational resources to assist providers with vaccine delivery and/or communicating with patients about immunizations
- Conduct an AFIX visit
- Host (or co-host with a local medical association) an educational event for local healthcare providers. The event can be a webinar or in-person meeting, or you can create an educational video, which can be viewed online at a provider's convenience. If possible, provide continuing education credits. For in-person meetings, you might want to consider a short educational breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting with a vaccine expert as presenter. Partnering with your local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians, or the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) will bring credibility to your event and can help you reach the providers you are looking to invite. Providing educational handouts during the meeting will help ensure that the most important messages are retained.
- Promote existing educational events and training opportunities. The CDC, Vaccine Education Center at CHOP, AAP, NFID,VIC Network, and ECBT websites are just a few places where you will locate other immunization education opportunities, many for continuing education credit, for providers and other vaccine advocates.
- Exhibit and/or present at a professional conference (i.e, Most medical association including the AAP, AAFP, AAPA, NAPNAP, and the AMA, have annual conferences for their members.)
- Promote participation in the local Immunization Information System (IIS)
State-Specific Immunization Handbooks - Every Child By Two worked with stakeholders in both Nevada and New Jersey to plan and implement immunization education meetings for healthcare providers in addition to creating state-specific immunization handbooks for the providers. These handbooks contain everything a healthcare provider in that state would need to know and have in order to successfully administer vaccines in their clinic or office practice. The handbook is in the form of a three ring-binder, so out-of-date pages can be easily removed and new information can be included. In the Nevada immunization handbook, the sections include information on office practices and customer service; the Nevada State Immunization Program; vaccine administration, and WebIZ (the state immunization information system). The New Jersey Immunization Handbook chapters include NJ Immunization Coverage (includes information on the immunization schedule, state immunization rates, and vaccine requirements); NJIIS, the NJ immunization registry, the NJ VFC Program; and General Immunization and Vaccine Safety Resources. The final section of the NJ handbook contained handouts from the breakfast meeting providers were attending when they received the folder. If you are interested in creating a state-specific immunization handbook for your local healthcare providers or would like more information, please contact ECBT.