Primary care will play a crucial role in bringing immunization efforts to the finish line
As a country, we have made remarkable progress in the national immunization effort. The United States has crossed over 330 million hits.
More than two-thirds of American adults have at least one injection and 58% are fully immunized. The progress we have made is a testament to the hard work and collaboration between the public, private and health sectors.
Our progress should not, however, make us forget that the work is not nearly done. Millions of people go unvaccinated and are still at risk, especially as the more transmissible Delta variant spreads across the United States. Getting protection from a COVID-19 vaccine is more important than ever for people.
However, we are facing a different dynamic than in previous months. The overwhelming majority of people most wanting to be vaccinated already have an injection. We still have a long way to go to reach those who remain on the fence, who could represent up to 10% of the population.
To help instill in this group the confidence to get immunized, primary care providers and health systems are essential. PCPs are the most trusted source of vaccine information, and their offices are the preferred location for vaccinations. Survey data confirms this time and time again. People want advice about the vaccination, and the vaccine itself, from the person who has provided them with reliable care, year after year.
The Biden administration has led a number of efforts to further activate primary care providers and health systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created toolkits to help PCPs implement vaccination programs in their offices and to help them educate their patients about the vaccine. The agency has also provided technical assistance to states to help them register and send more doses to doctor’s offices and clinics.
From the White House, we have worked closely with some of the largest provider associations in the country, such as the American Medical Association, the American Association of Family Physicians, the American Association of Pediatrics, and many more to encourage their members to repeat their vaccine. education and administration efforts. And in May, we hosted a national vendor town hall meeting with Drs. Rochelle Walensky, Anthony Fauci, Vivek Murthy and Marcella Nunez-Smith as well as providers and health systems across the country to share best practices.
We have seen significant progress, including a near doubling in the number of physician offices receiving COVID-19 vaccines in recent months. The American Medical Group Association, which represents groups of physicians and health systems that provide care to a combined third of the nation’s population, has called on its members to commit to proactively contacting their unvaccinated patients. to encourage them to get vaccinated. Within a week of submitting their request, 162 of AMGA’s medical group members, representing 103,000 physicians who care for 64 million patients, have pledged to act.
Likewise, the Alliance of Community Health Plans, which represents the country’s top performing nonprofit health plans, issued a call to action to its member plans which together serve 24 million people in 36 states and in Washington, DC. members have pledged to make similar efforts, including reaching out to their unvaccinated clients through automated calls, emails and text messages about the possibility of being vaccinated. AMGA and ACHA members have also committed to adopt a number of other strategies to improve vaccine confidence and uptake, such as partnering with community organizations, serving as public ambassadors for the vaccine. vaccines on traditional and social media, support the delivery of innovative vaccines to those who cannot travel, redouble efforts to vaccinate fellow caregivers.
Hospitals also play a key role and widely adopt best practices, including providing vaccines at discharge and in emergency departments, and distributing vaccines to hospital-affiliated PCPs. We have worked closely with the American Hospital Association to further disseminate these strategies.
We all have a role to play in this next phase. I strongly encourage all primary care providers and health system leaders to think about what more they can do to educate their patients about the vaccine and help deliver the vaccine in an accessible and equitable manner. There are a myriad of examples of successful providers executing innovative and challenging initiatives.
The country has relied on you throughout the pandemic and owes you a debt of gratitude for your service to your patients and communities. For what you have done and for what you will continue to do, you have my deep and lasting thanks.