Joining Judy were esteemed panelists Tochi Iroku-Malize, MD, MPH, MBA chairwoman of family medicine for Northwell Health and the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell; Rina Shah, PharmD, Group Vice President of Pharmacy Operations & Services at Walgreens; and Jeff Goad, PharmD, MPH, Vice President of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, Chapman University School of Pharmacy.
The panelists discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic is shining a light on the power of vaccines in preventing disease, serious illness, and death, as well as the critical role data and insights play in driving action to get more people vaccinated.
Two recent reports highlighting the potential public health threat of missed vaccinations during the pandemic underscore the timeliness of the public and private sectors to work closely with public health communities to ensure routine vaccination rates improve. The first, a CDC report found a “substantial decrease” in routine childhood and adolescent vaccinations, warning of the potential “public health threat, resulting in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially as schools reopen for in-person learning.” Another study, commissioned by GSK and conducted by Avalere Health, likewise reported a dramatic drop in non-COVID-19 vaccinations. The study showed that teens and adults missed more than 26 million doses of recommended vaccines in 2020, including 8.8 million missed adolescent vaccine doses and 17.2 million missed adult vaccine doses.
Dr. Iroku-Malize opened the panel with a discussion on public perception of vaccines. She raised concern that COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is spilling over into routine vaccines and offered tips on motivating patients to get caught up on their recommended vaccinations by educating them on the importance of vaccines through reflective listening, supporting autonomy, and undoing misinformation.
Dr. Jeff Goad shared some key learnings from the NFID’s Keep Up the Rates campaign, which is focused on raising awareness of the importance of staying up to date with routine immunizations during the pandemic. He also noted that CDC has issued guidance on co-administration, opening the door for patients to receive routine immunizations at the same time they receive a vaccine for COVID-19.
Dr. Rina Shah discussed Walgreens’ critical role in administering COVID-19 vaccines at every stage of the process – first in long-term care facilities, then in stores, and through other efforts including mass vaccination sites in vulnerable parts of the country. She shared how the COVID-19 vaccine rollout offers an important opportunity to talk about staying up to date with other vaccinations.
The panelists went on to share ideas around how to better address disparities and improve equitable distribution and access to recommended immunizations, including partnering with community and faith-based leaders and building a more individualized approach to strengthening trust and addressing concerns of communities. They also discussed how the public sector, private sector, and public health communities can better work together to promote the shared benefit of recommended immunizations.
You can watch the full recording of Protecting Our Communities: Improving Vaccination Rates Post COVID-19 here. The second episode, which will take place on October 26 at 3 p.m. EDT will feature a different panel of experts diving deeper into addressing vaccination disparities during COVID-19 and beyond.