Dr Schaffner underscores the significance of multidisciplinary teams in the effort to optimize vaccination rates for pneumococcal disease.
Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA:Dr Schaffner, how can a multidisciplinary approach, leveraging different types of providers, practitioners, and pharmacists, lead to higher rates of pneumococcal vaccination?
William Schaffner, MD: That’s my favorite question of the day. We’ve all been answering and addressing that question with our answers. We want to make immunization neighborhood as large and as effective as possible. We’re all working together to provide those immunizations in the most effective, comfortable way for all our patients. We want to raise the rates throughout our population and reduce the rates of pneumococcal disease. By working together, we can do that.
First, in our immediate environment. I’m a physician. We need to make sure everyone in the office—receptionists, nurses, everyone who works there—is on the same page, is positive, and is encouraging immunizations. I’m a big fan of pharmacists because pharmacists increasingly play a role in immunizations and can do even more. Pharmacists are trusted, and they have many more contacts with most patients than physicians and nurses in health care facilities. There are simply more opportunities to bring this up, answer questions, be reassuring, provide good information, and make patients comfortable in receiving immunizations.
We’ve mentioned community health workers. It’s also very important as we get the messages out. We want to get individuals who look like our patients to help us provide that information. For example, in Minnesota a few years ago, there was an outbreak of measles in the Somali community because there was bad information circulating. The local health department and Children’s Minnesota reached out to the local imams. They developed a relationship with those individuals, who then spoke to their congregations. They also enlisted physicians who were on the staff who were Muslim, who could talk to those individuals. Dr Bill is not sufficient. We need individuals who look like our wonderful diverse populations in the United States to help us all deliver messages so that individuals can have confidence, can see individuals who look like them provide reassurance and a sense of comfort and social solidarity. It’s good for me, it’s good for my family, and it’s good for my entire community that all of us are vaccinated and reduce the occurrence of disease. This is clearly a collaborative effort.
Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA: Dr Schaffner, thanks for giving us that example. You’re right. I love that you talked about [how everyone] from the receptionist to the rest of the team is building a culture. We approach the patient from all perspectives as encouragers. When you talked about the Minnesota example, [we need to] make sure patients see individuals they recognize and trust to deliver that information because it’s important that we set those patients up for success.
Transcript edited for clarity.