Build Confidence in Talking With Patients

Pharmacists likely view the COVID-19 vaccines as an extraordinary success story—a triumph of modern science. However, some members of the general public might view these new vaccines as having been created in a suspiciously short amount of time, using unproven technology, and having uncertain adverse effects and troubling political overtones.

Some people merely need information and assurance. They may be anxious, uninformed, or misinformed. They need a safe space to voice their questions and concerns and get accurate information from a trusted source.

When talking with patients, start from a place of empathy and understanding. The first step is to acknowledge how stressful the pandemic has been for all of us, along with the disruption COVID-19 has caused in all our lives. Make it clear that it is natural and understandable to have questions, concerns, or fears about new vaccines.

APhA’s Vaccine Confident Playbook has tips on How to Talk to People About COVID-19 Vaccines.

Key Points

  • It is important to address each person’s actual concerns—not what you assume those concerns are. Your willingness to listen to a person’s concerns will go a long way in building trust in you and your recommendation.
  • Keep your sharing as simple and focused as possible, ideally addressing the specific root cause of each concern.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers your strong vaccine recommendation to be the most important part of the conversation. Let the person know you recommend COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible persons to protect their own health as well as the health of those around them. Personalize the recommendation as much as possible—for example, “This vaccination is especially important for you because of your [job/underlying health condition].”

Information for Pharmacy Teams

Watch APhA’s CPE webinar on COVID-19 Vaccination: Conversations With Patients to learn about the effectiveness of various communication strategies pharmacists may use in conversations with patients about COVID-19 vaccination.
Read APhA’s CPE article on Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Throughout the Immunization Neighborhood to develop strategies to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines among patients and develop confidence as an immunizer to respond to patients’ COVID-19 vaccine questions and concerns.