Federal health officials have released a comprehensive new guide and toolkit to help nursing home administrators tackle vaccine hesitancy issues among certified nursing assistants, as well as barriers vaccination.
“Investing in Confidence: A Guide to Building Confidence in the COVID-19 Vaccine Among Certified Practical NursesPublished by the Department of Health and Human Services, is based in part on interviews with CNA. The authors explain the main reasons why ANCs don’t get vaccinated, detail research-based information on the type of conversations and messages that help build confidence in vaccines, and offer practical ideas on how help reduce barriers to immunization. A toolkit includes posters and information cards on vaccine planning.
The reluctance to vaccinate ANC is significant and worrisome, given the
role they play in caring for residents at high risk of COVID-19, according to the authors. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution to increasing immunization rates among these staff, they said. The reasons for concern about the shots are “varied, complex, and not specific to a particular demographic,” the authors wrote. “Even those who want or want to be vaccinated may face logistical hurdles.”
Nursing home administrators need to do six things if they are to encourage higher immunization rates, they concluded:
- Build confidence in yourself as an employer by transparently and frequently communicating about vaccine, organizational policies regarding immunization, and immunization rates within your facility.
- Remove barriers to make it easy for staff to find and access vaccines, and consider arranging vaccine drives so employees can access them where they already are.
- Take the time to listen and create opportunities for NACs to get their questions answered by trusted local experts, managers and staff who have already been vaccinated. (The toolkit includes language suggestions for these conversations.)
- Offer meaningful incentives such as paid time off to get vaccinated or recover from short-term side effects.
- Activate trusted messengers who may not be part of your organization’s leadership or leadership.
- Use effective messages such as “More and more NACs here are choosing to be vaccinated,” or cite critical steps for those who want to wait and see, such as the fact that more than 120 million Americans are fully vaccinated.
- Call on CNA’s expertise and role as caregivers for residents and their families.
- Celebrate as a community, but address fears on an individual level.
The complete guide is available as a Downloadable PDF.