252: Offering Flu and COVID-19 Vaccines Together

Dr. Gillian SteelFisher, Director of Global Polling for the Harvard Opinion Research Program, reveals what polling tells us about public interest in COVID-19 booster shots; Kim Martin, ASTHO’s Director of Immunization, says National Immunization...


Dr. Gillian SteelFisher, Director of Global Polling for the Harvard Opinion Research Program, reveals what polling tells us about public interest in COVID-19 booster shots; Kim Martin, ASTHO’s Director of Immunization, says National Immunization Awareness Month is the perfect time for public health agencies to talk to their communities about vaccines; and ASTHO's new Speakers Bureau has several public health leaders available to join your next event.

CDC Webpage: National Immunization Awareness Month

ASTHO Webpage: Speakers Bureau

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Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, August 30th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

GILLIAN STEELFISHER:

Most people who've already gotten at least one vaccine say they're going to be likely to get featured boosters.

JOHNSON:

More vaccine polling data today from Dr. Gillian SteelFisher, director of global polling for the Harvard Opinion Research Program.

The latest question: how can public health agencies convince people to get a COVID booster? SteelFisher says talking about a new formulation might not be the answer.

STEELFISHER:

A new formulation to match the currently circulating viruses didn't really increase the likelihood that people were going to get it. So, I suspect there's actually a bit of hesitation about what might seem like a novel vaccine.

And so, public health agencies would do well to kind of create messages that normalize the idea of like updating vaccines. You know, you still want to emphasize the benefits of updated formulations, but updating rather than kind of a new vaccine, I think is the angle. That's going to make people most comfortable and have vaccine fit into those routines.

JOHNSON:

And what about asking people to get a flu shot and a COVID booster at the same time? SteelFisher says it's the way to go.

JOHNSON:

Most people who plan to get the vaccines, about three-quarters, actually prefer to get them at the same time. And what drives that? Yes, you guessed it—convenience. Okay, it's easier, and they'd like to get any side effects or local injection pain out of the way all over once. So, it doesn't turn people away to have them both together and offering the same day. There could be a way for public health to boost rates.

JOHNSON:

SteelFisher reminds us that for many people, it's all about convenience.

STEELFISHER:

The point is that offering vaccines together makes it easier for people to follow through on their good intentions to get vaccinated, and there are a lot of people with those good intentions.

 

JOHNSON:

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. ASTHO's Kim Martin says it's the perfect time for public health agencies to talk to their communities about vaccines.

KIMBERLEY MARTIN:

This event occurs every August, which of course is right before kids go back to school. So, it's a great reminder for parents to talk with their child's healthcare provider to make sure that their child is up-to-date with all of their routine vaccines. It's also a really good time for adults to think about their own vaccines.

JOHNSON:

Martin says ASTHO members can connect with healthcare providers to make sure they have the information they need to get their patients vaccinated.

MARTIN:

There is so much new guidance that is out there regarding COVID vaccines and other vaccines, and health departments are really a great resource for providers to turn to.

And then finally, health departments across the country are all working very closely with partners and community-based organizations. And now is a really good time for health officials to remind those partners of this observance.

 

JOHNSON:

Finally today, as you make your plans for events this fall, make sure to check out the lineup of public health leaders available in ASTHO's new Speakers Bureau. State health officials and ASTHO executives are among those offering to spend time with your audience. You can get more information using the link in the show notes.

 

That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Gillian SteelFisher PhD MSc

Senior Research Scientist, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Kimberly Martin

Director, Immunization, ASTHO