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Delivering accessible vaccine and Covid-19 resources for children and families - MedCity News

As the pandemic continues and both vaccine and treatment options evolve, it’s crucial for healthcare organizations to keep their patients and members updated on the latest information regarding their health and safety. Communicating with patients at this scale, especially in a climate where mistrust and disinformation are rampant, is extremely challenging and requires a proactive and continuous digital health approach. For example, the news about the approval of vaccines for children (like the FDA’s recent approval of Pfizer for kids ages 5-11 in late October) is particularly meaningful for parents and caregivers with school-age children.

Within the healthcare ecosystem, health plans have a unique opportunity to actively engage with members around these updates and offer direct support to those in need. With 91% of people enrolled in some kind of health insurance in the U.S., health plans have an important role to play in disseminating clear, accurate and timely information about the vaccine.

Health plans can employ the following strategies to keep their members informed and empowered with the latest guidance surrounding children and Covid-19 vaccines:

Create a designated mobile resource with all the information members need in one place 

Most members are curious healthcare consumers who are actively seeking out information relative to their health. Meet members where they are, on their smartphones, by delivering continuously updated education around vaccines to your health plan’s app. To make the information engaging and easy to understand for a diverse population, health plans should aim to deliver information at a fourth to sixth grade reading level and offer language options whenever possible.

Reliable information about Covid vaccines for children should be easy for caregivers to find and access. Messaging should emphasize that Covid vaccines are extremely safe and effective in children and adults, and that they have been developed and implemented under some of the strongest safety monitoring in U.S. history. While there are potential side effects and complications to be considered when getting the vaccine (such as mild and rare cases of heart inflammation, or myocarditis), getting infected with the Covid-19 virus is more likely to be associated with this complication than the vaccine is.

Embed engaging features within digital health tools to keep patients up to date on new information

By creating options such as being able to set up  alerts, checklists, or reminders, health plans can increase their members’ engagement around key health topics. With the recent influx of data and messaging focused on Covid-19 vaccine safety, efficacy, and eligibility, the need for keeping up with other routine, preventative immunizations and care might be eclipsed or missed.

These notifications and the messaging should encourage members to  stay compliant with their  healthcare, but clarify that even if children are not up to date on their routine vaccines, they can still receive  the Covid-19 vaccine. If parents have questions or concerns about vaccines or immunizations, health plans can provide lines of communication set up to field questions and offer real time guidance via chat, mobile, or video. During the vaccination process, for example, health plans can set up notification reminders to schedule and receive the second dose, and to remind parents that children are not fully protected until two weeks after the second dose.

To protect children and those around them from Covid-19 in school, healthcare organizations should advise parents and caregivers to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible and to use protective masks as appropriate. Healthcare organizations should provide clear instructions on how to make an appointment for a vaccine, and how to confirm that the pediatrician’s office, hospital, pharmacy, or vaccine center offers the appropriate Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and formulation. Link directly to resources like the CDC’s VaccineFinder for easy access.

Outline what to expect after the vaccine and instructions for receiving additional support

Educating parents and caregivers about the potential side effects associated with the vaccine can help ensure they feel prepared. Communicate that children may experience common localized symptoms, such as arm pain, swelling, or stiffness. They might also experience flu-like symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea. These side effects typically abate after a day or two, and are much less common in children versus adults. The CDC has confirmed that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks.

After receiving the initial vaccine dose, health plans can play a valuable role in ensuring that parents and caregivers are aware of the recommended three week interval before they receive the second dose, and that this appointment is scheduled. To help caregivers stay on top of their child’s immunizations, healthcare professionals can send a follow-up message or configure an automatic notification, suggesting they take a  photo of their vaccination card for their records and share a copy of the card with the pediatrician’s office.

Accessibility is the key to keeping people safe

As new information around vaccines and children continues to evolve and surface,  maintaining a single point of entry for this information, that is updated in a timely fashion, can be incredibly helpful to caregivers. Making information available on demand and in one place provides members with the tools they need to feel empowered and make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Many health plans have already established relationships with the most vulnerable members and populations through digital care management, and they have a unique opportunity to offer trustworthy, verified resources to members as a result.

This post appears through the MedCity Influencers program. Anyone can publish their perspective on business and innovation in healthcare on MedCity News through MedCity Influencers. Click here to find out how.

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