In Europe, approximately 50 million people fall ill due to the seasonal flu each year, and up to 70,000 Europeans can die due to flu-related complications(1). As healthcare professionals, you know getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the flu(1), but you also know some of your patients will have questions. Here are some tips to help you speak to your patients about the flu vaccine!
National governments around Europe provide flu vaccine advice, guidance, and campaign materials to support the flu vaccine uptake in their country(2) (3) (4). Familiarising yourself with your country’s national recommendations is a good first step. It is also helpful to have factsheets of the flu vaccine campaign available to give to your patients to take with them.
Give a Strong Flu Vaccine Recommendation
For many people, healthcare professionals are their most trusted source of vaccine information(5), therefore you should give a strong recommendation to immunise(5). One way to give a strong flu vaccination recommendation is to follow these steps(5):
- Share the reasons why the flu vaccine is right for your patient, based on their age, health status, occupation, and any other risk factors.
- Highlight the benefits of the flu vaccine, to reinforce confidence in vaccination.
- Address your patients’ questions. It is important to use simple and easy to understand language.
- Remind your patients that they are not just protecting themselves, but their loved ones and their community.
- Explain the potential risks if your patient doesn’t get the vaccine and catches the flu, such as flu-related complications.
A few more tips that can help you speak to your patient about the flu vaccine include(5):
- Explain that the flu vaccine is an essential part of their overall health management.
- Avoid repeating any misconceptions or misinformation.
- Share the flu and flu vaccine factsheets with them.
Addressing Your Patients’ Concerns
You know your patients have different needs and different levels of knowledge of the flu and flu vaccination. They will also have different attitudes and perceptions(6). When your patient expresses concern for the flu vaccine, it is important to stop immediately and listen. You can then answer their questions by sharing statistics but also personal stories(5). The key is to connect with your patient and empower them(7) to make the best decision for their health.
Staying Healthy This Flu Season
Regardless of your patient’s decision to get vaccinated or not, it is important to remind them of other ways to stay healthy this flu season; such as washing their hands frequently, staying home when they feel unwell, and avoiding close contact with people who are ill(1).
(1) Factsheet about seasonal influenza. ECDC. Available at: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/facts/factsheet Accessed on 14 September 2023
(2) Flu and Flu vaccine. RIVM. Available at: https://www.rivm.nl/en/flu-and-flu-vaccine Accessed on 14 September 2023
(3) Grippe. Vaccination Info Service. Available at: https://vaccination-info-service.fr/Les-maladies-et-leurs-vaccins/Grippe Accessed on 14 September 2023
(4) Grippeimpfung für medizinisches Personal. BZgA. Available at: https://www.impfen-info.de/grippeimpfung/medizinisches-personal/ Accessed on 14 September 2023
(5) HCP Fight Flu Toolkit. CDC. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/prepare-practice-tools.htm Accessed on 14 September 2023
(6) Influenza communication guide: How to increase influenza vaccination uptake and promote preventive measures to limit its spread. ECDC. Available at: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/communication-guidelines-influenza-vaccination Accessed on: 14 September 2023
(7) How to talk to your friends and family about vaccines. UNICEF. Available at: https://www.unicef.org/how-talk-about-vaccines Accessed on 14 September 2023