CDC Guidance and Tools for Talking to Patients About Vaccinations Available Now

December 8, 2023

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the optimal time to immunize patients against the fall/winter respiratory viruses this holiday season is now, but vaccination rates are lagging behind prior years in some populations. According to CDC:

  • Viral respiratory season has arrived and is expected to worsen over the next several weeks in much of the country. See how your state is doing here.
  • Rates of vaccination for the updated COVID-19 vaccine are <15% for people under 65 years.

Here is the latest on what is known about why some people aren’t up to date on their vaccines, what can be done to protect them, and new resources based on what CDC has heard providers are asking for:

What patients are saying

What providers can do

Tools for providers

“I didn’t know it was recommended for me”

Make a strong recommendation, like “You are due for your flu and COVID-19 vaccines today. I’ve gotten these vaccines myself and recommend them for you too.”

Conversation Guide

“It’s not top of mind/I keep forgetting”

Send a message to your patients now via your patient portal or text message to remind them about the importance of getting vaccinated now

Script for patient portal message in English and Spanish

“I’m worried about vaccine safety”

Give your patients accurate and up-to-date information about vaccine benefits and safety

Conversation Guide

“I don’t want to get the vaccine”

Use motivational interviewing, starting with questions like “I hear you. If it’s okay with you, I would like to spend a few minutes talking more about fall and winter respiratory vaccines.”

Conversation Guide

“I’m worried about getting all three vaccines at once”

Discuss the facts on coadministration and the most important thing---getting all recommended vaccines

What to Know About Getting Flu, COVID-19, and RSV Vaccines at the Same Time

“My child is healthy, so they don’t need the vaccines”

Let families know that while children with some health conditions are at higher risk of getting very sick, over half of the children under age 2 hospitalized for COVID-19 and then admitted to the ICU were otherwise healthy.

Conversation Guide

You can find other materials in CDC’s Preparing Your Patients for the Fall and Winter Virus Season healthcare provider toolkit.  For example, the Respiratory Diseases At-A-Glance includes key vaccine recommendations and links.

For patients at risk of severe respiratory disease, vaccination is particularly urgent. Additional resources for these groups available in the Viral Respiratory Pathogens Toolkit for Nursing Homes.  

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) offers cancer-specific patient fact sheets on flu and COVID-19 vaccinations in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese. Healthcare providers are patients' most trusted source of information for how to protect themselves and their loved ones against respiratory viruses. 

Bookmark ASCO in Action for updates in this issue, as well as news, advocacy, and analysis on cancer policy.