The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has led to a significant expansion of telemedicine to deliver healthcare services because of movement restrictions, stay-at-home orders, and the risk of infection. To mitigate the spread and serious symptoms COVID-19 may cause, there are COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccination programs are currently taking place across the United States to provide protection from the coronavirus. To increase the COVID-19 vaccinations, telemedicine software such as Curogram have the necessary systems to assist and educate unvaccinated patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Based on the number of fully vaccinated US citizens, many are confident in the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. However, some people are still reluctant to receive either the FDA-approved Pfizer-BioNTech or the FDA emergency authorized vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.
Telemedicine addresses the communication barrier by providing technological solutions to encourage and assist unvaccinated patients into receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
The United States wants all citizens to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but hesitation remains.
Immunization with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component of the United States strategy to reduce new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and casualties. The government aims to supply enough COVID-19 vaccines for all US citizens who wish to be vaccinated.
There are three COVID-19 vaccines available:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (for 12 years and older, two shots/doses)
- Moderna (for 18 years and older, two shots/doses)
- Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (for 18 years and older, one shot/dose)
These vaccines are safe, effective, and reduce the risk of illnesses. The risk of infection, hospitalization, and mortality is much lower in vaccinated individuals compared to unvaccinated.
All COVID-19 vaccines currently administered in the US effectively prevent COVID-19 as seen in clinical trial settings. However, some fully vaccinated people can still get infected because, to date, no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing the COVID-19 infection. Vaccinated people who contract COVID-19 experience less severe symptoms or asymptomatic infections.
But, even after over 218 million people are fully up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, many remain reluctant to take it.
Reasons for COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitation
In January 2021, as the COVID-19 vaccine program began in the US, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) conducted a nationwide survey to determine the response of most US adults to the vaccination program. The poll found that:
- 92% those surveyed who planned to get vaccinated in early 2021 have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine after six months into the vaccination program
- 54% that wanted to wait are now vaccinated
- 76% who said they would not get vaccinated remain unvaccinated
One of the top reasons most people decide not to get vaccinated is the fear of vaccine side effects — some people are concerned that the COVID-19 vaccines are too new, unexplored, and not tested enough for their efficiency and safety. A small percentage believe that they don’t need the vaccine. Other reasons are that individuals don’t trust the vaccine or have a medical condition that prevents them from receiving it.
Lack of information about COVID-19 vaccines is also a primary reason why people refuse to get vaccinated. They may have also read fake information on social media or online about the vaccine’s side effects.
To avoid such confusion and spread of misinformation, healthcare providers use Curogram’s HIPAA-compliant text messaging system to directly communicate with their patients and educate them about the COVID-19 vaccines backed up by reliable sources and relevant studies that they can send via link.
How can you address COVID-19 vaccine hesitation with Curogram?
While there are people who are firm with their decision not to receive any COVID-19 vaccine, some of the surveyed individuals changed their mind and went ahead and received the vaccine. Some of their reasons, according to the KFF poll, were:
- Persuasion by their family, friends, personal doctors, or healthcare providers
- Seeing their family and friends get vaccinated without serious side effects
- Wanting protection while visiting their family and friends
- Heard or read something about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine
- Easing of restrictions for vaccinated individuals
Moreover, most vaccinated adults, including those who were first hesitant, said they have tried to persuade close friends or family members to get vaccinated.
Using telemedicine, you can convert the COVID-19 vaccine hesitant into vaccine recipients. Curogram, with its many features to reach out to patients, can help increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among your patients. And if they share the information you give them, that can promote their friends and family to get vaccinated too.
During the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine program, many reluctant individuals finally decided to receive a COVID-19 vaccine after getting encouragement from their doctors. Conversations with medical experts create clarity among hesitant individuals as they learn the truth about the safety and efficiency of COVID-19 vaccines.
However, the COVID-19 outbreak creates a communication barrier between doctors and patients — in-office appointments are not always advisable because of transmission risk. With the use of technology such as telemedicine, healthcare providers use remote ways to safely and efficiently deliver care.
For the COVID-19 vaccination program rollout, direct communication between healthcare providers and patients is essential.
Telemedicine solutions like Curogram, with its HIPAA-compliant and patient-centric messaging platform, are a vital tool during the vaccination campaign and operations. It offers communication/education solution to:
- Reach patients and share vital information about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines
- Provide virtual consultations to address patient’s concerns
- Send out mass texts that outline benefits of vaccination
Enabling easy and simple communication methods between healthcare providers and patients plays a vital role in vaccine consultation leading to the patient’s decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine and receive the necessary support to schedule the vaccination.
How should doctors communicate with patients about COVID-19 vaccination?
As the COVID-19 vaccination program continues to roll out, ongoing discussions about the vaccine happen among healthcare providers, patients, and the entire community.
It is crucial for a physician who integrates telehealth in their medical practice to use the technology to promote vaccination among unvaccinated patients.
The following can help you communicate with your patients about the COVID-19 vaccine:
Understand the Patient’s Community
A huge part of a patient’s decision to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is their community. If a patient is hesitant, a physician must understand their patient’s community by doing research before a virtual consultation.
Healthcare providers may conduct research on the following areas to understand what may hold the patient back from getting a COVID-19 vaccine:
- Vaccination rate on their community
- Barriers in the community that might cause reluctance to the COVID-19 vaccines
- Status of COVID-19 vaccine accessibility in the community
It’s helpful to know why patients are hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine and understand the community they belong to focus on addressing the hesitancy.
Be Ready to Address Patient Concerns
Compile answers to the most commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC, such as:
- Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Why do I need to get two vaccine shots?
- Will the vaccine make me sick?
- Do I still need to get vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?
Healthcare providers must be well aware and informed about the COVID-19 vaccines and concerns patients may have about them. Seeing their confidence as they answer COVID-related questions during a virtual consultation or via SMS may persuade patients to get vaccinated.
Moreover, physicians can look over the patient’s medical history before the virtual visit so they can address specifics such as if it’s safe for a patient with hypertension, heart failure, an autoimmune disease, etc. to take a COVID-19 vaccine jab.
Build Trust By Sharing Information
COVID-19 vaccines are proven safe and effective — hesitant patients must know that. Physicians must educate their patients on COVID-19 vaccines, including their development and intense safety monitoring.
However, topics about vaccines can be quite stressful for some patients. They might be reluctant to talk about it during a virtual consultation. That is why Curogram offers an additional way for physicians to communicate with their patients about COVID-19 vaccination: a secured SMS system.
Curogram has a secure, 2-way texting platform that fully complies with the HIPAA rules for data protection. Before sharing any information about COVID-19 vaccines, physicians must first ask their patients’ permission instead of giving it right away. Physicians can send information regarding COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination sites near a patient’s area via text messages. They can also send reliable online sources and patients can easily access the information by clicking the links.
By letting their patients know they strongly recommend receiving COVID-19 vaccines while discussing potential side effects in a secured communication platform, physicians build trust and a safe space for patients to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines.
Help Patients Access COVID-19 Vaccination Sites
Once they decide to get a COVID-19 vaccine, patients may need help scheduling their vaccination if your office is not administering them. Telehealth platforms like Curogram offer assistance on vaccine administration. Using Curogram, physicians can:
- Schedule virtual vaccine consultations
- Text links to vaccine administration sites
- Provide mobile vaccination information
- Remotely monitor for COVID-19 vaccine side effects
- Remind patients of their second dose vaccine schedule
Telehealth platforms all over the country are teaming up with hospitals and other medical institutions to offer assistance on COVID-19 vaccination.
In April 2021, Curogram, with Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), an emergency relief non-profit organization, and Sick.org, a digital healthcare provider, received a contract with the state of Georgia to operate mobile and fixed vaccine sites throughout the region. The goal is to administer a million vaccines to Georgians by the end of the year.
If your office is administering COVID-19 vaccines, Curogram can assist in the process to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Curogram’s telehealth features streamline COVID-19 vaccination in healthcare offices.
Curogram’s patient engagement technology offers the following for a COVID-19 vaccination program at a healthcare office:
- Online registration module – Registration with customizable data collection
- Mass texting – Communicate vaccination services to patients
- Site configuration and scheduling – Adapt appointment availability based on site configurations and appointment capacity changes
- Automated text reminders – ensure patients attend their scheduled vaccination appointments
- Recall – Easily invite patients to book their second dose vaccination at the appropriate time
- Vaccination module – Conveniently document vaccination data with mobile devices and automatically report to state immunization registries
- Integration engine – automate electronic medical record (EMR) entry
As an integrated system, Curogram helps ease and increase COVID-19 vaccinations because of its easy-to-use technology features from pre-registering unvaccinated patients, to their actual vaccination day.
Maximize Technology to Streamline Vaccine Scheduling and Administration
As a technology used to support and promote remote healthcare delivery and enhance doctor-patient relationships, telehealth plays a vital role in COVID-19 vaccination education and imploring people to get vaccinated.
Telehealth solutions such as Curogram provide a secured channel where physicians can discuss the truths and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines to their unvaccinated patients. Encouragement and assurance from their doctors is a huge deciding factor why patients finally agree to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
At the same time, Curogram offers essential services to healthcare providers to make COVID-19 vaccination accessible for their patients. With Curogram, physicians can assist their patients in looking for COVID-19 vaccination sites, schedule vaccinations, send SMS to remind patients of their second dose schedule, and remote monitor if a patient develops vaccine side effects.
Increasing vaccination rates is crucial to decrease serious illness and hospitalization, and healthcare providers play a role in encouraging patients to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and update them with relevant information. Eventually, well-informed individuals become confident in their decision to get vaccinated.