Let’s Bring Vaccinations Back to Primary Care
In the face of a U.S. healthcare system striving to balance a fragmented structure, primary care practices must stand steadfastly as the vanguard while wrestling with pressing issues like adequate compensation, staffing deficits, and escalating expenses. Amid these persistent challenges, it’s imperative that we remain anchored to a pivotal cornerstone of our practice: immunizing our patients to ensure both their individual health and the collective well-being of our communities.
Vaccines are among the paramount achievements in public health over the last century. For those of us in the trenches daily, vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t merely topics from our medical textbooks. We witness, often more frequently than we’d like, the anguish these preventable diseases can inflict.
Yet, the past decade has borne witness to a significant shift in primary care vaccination programs. Due to the increasing financial constraints, these critical programs are frequently sidelined. This isn’t due to a lack of understanding or appreciation. The costs associated with procuring, storing, and managing a vaccine program can strain a practice’s financial health, especially those catering to families.
Here are 3 timely reminders about why a primary care practice (PCP) vaccine program is an essential benefit to patients:
1. Better adherence
Trust lies at the heart of the patient-physician relationship. When a patient or a patient’s parent is unsure or apathetic about receiving a vaccine, their doctor’s guidance is pivotal in allaying fears or overcoming indifference. Research indicates that if a practice doesn’t offer vaccinations and directs patients elsewhere, a significant number do not complete the immunization process.
2. Better response to adverse reactions
The primary care clinician’s intimate knowledge of the administered vaccine allows for timely and appropriate care of an adverse reaction. This professional will also be aware of any pre-existing conditions that could render certain vaccines unsuitable.
3. Better overall care
Primary care practitioners recognize the interconnected nature of health. When a patient visits for a vaccine, it provides a chance for a comprehensive health check. While administering the vaccine, other health irregularities might be spotted, or patients might voice other health concerns. A routine vaccination appointment can open the door to broader health discussions, revealing more profound issues like depression, food insecurity, domestic strife, or other challenges. This offers a chance for intervention, both traditionally and in ways that holistically contribute to the patient’s well-being.
Integrating robust vaccine programs in our primary care practices not only positions us to address immediate health needs but also lays a foundation for a more health-conscious future. We are reasserting that prevention is primary, and community well-being is a priority. We can strive to ensure that every patient feels seen, heard, and cared for, and where the health of communities thrives.