Healthcare Providers: Encourage Your Patients to Get a Flu Shot

flu shot

The 2017-2018 flu season was the most severe flu season since the swine flu pandemic of 2009, and it has been reported that this year’s is arriving early. It is vital for everyone who can get the flu shot to be vaccinated. However, for health care providers, convincing patients to get the flu shot can be challenging.

How to Recommend the Flu Shot

The American Academy of Family Physicians has come up with these three tips to help healthcare providers recommend the flu vaccine:

1.Greet the patient, confirm the patient’s decision not to get a flu shot based on the nurse’s rooming notes, and then ask the patient for more information on why he or she does not want one, listening carefully to the patient’s response.

2. With the patient’s permission, briefly provide information specific to the patient’s belief or fear. For example, if the patient is worried about getting sick from the flu shot because a family member once developed a cough shortly after getting a flu shot, explain that the flu vaccine is made of killed virus, not live, and cannot make the patient sick. Carefully watch for nonverbal cues of understanding, doubt, or other reactions. (You may also share with them information from the CDC about misconceptions about flu vaccines.)

3. After discussing the information, ask what the patient now thinks about getting a flu shot. Some patients may change their mind and want one, while others will continue to say “no.” Provide a clear medical recommendation for the vaccine but respect the patient’s autonomy to choose. Invite patients who remain reluctant to let you know if they ever change their mind or want additional information, leaving the door open for conversation in the future.

It’s important to convey to your patients that while a flu shot may result in temporary discomfort at the injection site, and there could be a small chance they may still catch the flu even after vaccination, a flu shot will lessen the flu’s severity. Without vaccination, catching the flu can lead to hospitalization. Any protection is better than no protection.

If you’d like more information about the best ways to recommend the flu shot to your patients, visit the CDC’s flu resource page, or contact the Indiana Immunization Coalition.



Are you a pediatrician or family practice physician interested in continuous learning and professional development?

Recognizing the efforts of physicians who strive to improve their day-to-day practice of medicine, The HPV: Don’t Wait. Vaccinate! Project is a Part 4, Performance in Practice Project diverse requirement approved by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Family Medicine. The project’s goal is to increase participating physician’s 1st dose HPV vaccine rate for eligible females and males ages 9-21 by 25% during a 6-month period

While HPV vaccination rates are on the rise, as of 2017, 51 percent of adolescents still had not completed the HPV vaccine series and nationally, HPV vaccine rates continue to lag behind the other recommended adolescent vaccines. Only about half of girls, and even less boys across the nation are receiving the HPV vaccine, while almost 90% of teens are receiving their MCV4 and Tdap vaccines. Both the CDC and the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices recommend each of these vaccines be given to teens at 11 or 12 years of age.

Why Participate in HPV MOC?

The discrepancies between the rates tells us that providers are missing opportunities to administer the HPV vaccine. Because these vaccines can be administered on the same day, to increase HPV vaccine rates, providers should recommend all three vaccines “in the same way and on the same day.

To encourage better dialogue with parents about the importance of the HPV vaccine, physicians that participate in the HPV MOC will receive a resource toolkit adapted from evidenced-based information from CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics and developed by the Indiana Immunization Coalition.

For additional information about The HPV: Don’t Wait. Vaccinate! Project including completion criteria and fees, or to register, visit our HPV MOC guide.

Vaccine Myths: Get the Facts

vaccine myths

We live in a world of information overload. Whether from traditional newspapers and round-the-clock news programs, or social media channels, we have access to content 24/7. However, much of the information we consume can be misinformation.

One area that continues to be surrounded by misinformation is the importance of immunizations. Despite decades of evidence-backed, scientific studies that prove that vaccines are safe and necessary, many people choose to believe the vaccine myths over scientific facts. 

Why get vaccinated? Let’s set the record straight:

Vaccine Myth 1: Vaccines Cause Autism

In 1997, Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon published a study suggesting that the MMR vaccine was increasing autism in British children. It was discovered that Wakefield had many ethical violations, undisclosed financial conflict of interests, and the study itself was found to have numerous procedural errors. Wakefield lost his medical license and the study has been discredited.

FACT: Vaccines do not cause autism. Many major studies have been conducted to try to find a connection between vaccines and autism yet, none of them have found a link. However, there have been numerous studies that have shown the symptoms of autism developing in children before they received the MMR vaccine.

Vaccine Myth 2: Vaccines Have a High-Level of Toxins

While some vaccines contain a trace amount of mercury, formaldehyde, or aluminum, there is no scientific evidence that low-levels of these are harmful. And according to the CDC and the FDA, our bodies’ metabolic systems produce more formaldehyde than what can be found in any vaccine.

FACT: Trace amounts of chemicals are added to vaccines to: stimulate a better response, prevent the growth of bacteria while vaccines are being stored, and to prevent contamination. However, the amount contained in any vaccine is minute and do not cause any harm.

Vaccine Myth 3: Vaccines Infect You with Disease

While a small percentage of vaccines can cause mild symptoms to occur, these symptoms are not the emergence of the disease being vaccinated against, but rather the body’s immune systems response to the disease itself.

FACT: Symptoms occur in less than one in one-million cases; vaccines follow strict FDA regulations, are safe and do not cause disease.

Vaccine Myth 4: The Risks of Getting Sick are too Low to Bother with Vaccines

Deadly diseases that seem to be non-existent, are very much still in existence. Despite false claims, there has never been credible evidence linking vaccines to dangerous health conditions, severe side effects, or allergic reactions.

FACT: Many vaccine-preventable diseases may seem to be non-existent, however, outbreaks have only been kept at bay because of increased worldwide immunizations. But, when immunization rates drop, outbreaks spread quickly. We cannot rely on others to stop the spread of disease, everyone who can be vaccinated must be vaccinated.

Vaccine Myth 5: Proper Hygiene and Modern Sanitation are as Effective as Vaccines

Despite cleaner and more sanitary environments, vaccine-preventable diseases will continue to spread if people are not immunized.

FACT: Studies have shown that while better sanitation and nutrition with modern treatments and antibiotics have increased survival rates among sick individuals, vaccines are responsible for the decrease in outbreaks of disease. 

Facts are facts, and the fact is, the best way to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable disease is through widespread immunization.

American Cancer Society Announces Goal to End HPV Cancers

Originally published by Shot of Prevention

HPV cancers

It has been 12 years since the FDA approved the first HPV vaccine. To mark the occasion, the American Cancer Society has launched a public health campaign with one very ambitious goal – to eliminate vaccine-preventable HPV cancers.

Since the HPV vaccine has been proven to be so highly effective, experts and organizations in the U.S. and around the world are talking about how the vaccine can be used to eliminate HPV cancers, starting with cervical cancer. As one of the most respected cancer organizations in the world, the American Cancer Society is uniquely positioned to lead the fight against all HPV related cancers.

How do they plan to achieve this goal?

By using their Mission: HPV Cancer Free Campaign to increase HPV vaccination rates for preteens to at least 80% by June 2026, the 20-year anniversary of the FDA’s approval of the first HPV vaccine.

Considering the number of adolescents who are receiving other recommended vaccines, like the meningococcal vaccine, this objective seems both reasonable and achievable.

HPV Cancers

However, in order for the vaccine to prevent any of the six HPV related cancers, such as cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, head and neck (also called oropharyngeal cancer), children need to be vaccinated before potential exposure. By getting children vaccinated as recommended, at 11-12 years of age, parents can help ensure the vaccine is administered before sexual activity begins, and when studies show children to have the most optimal immune response to the vaccine.

While the HPV vaccine has been shown to be both safe and effective, the unfortunate reality is that only about 40% of boys and girls in the U.S. are fully protected with the recommended 2 or 3 doses of HPV vaccine. This is unfortunate because we know that 9 out of 10 adults will have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime.

Many of these HPV infections may eventually clear up on their own. However, the fact remains that some infections will develop into dangerous cancers years, or even decades, after initial exposure. While doctors routinely screen for cervical cancer, there are no recommended cancer screening tests for the other 20,000 cases of cancers caused by HPV infections each year in the United States. Considering that there are often no early symptoms of these cancers, many of these cases will go undetected until they have progressed to a late and dangerous stage.

This is why HPV vaccination is so important. Preventing cancer is always better than treating it.

How you can help end HPV cancers

HPV cancers


Educate yourself about HPV and make sure the children in your life are vaccinated. Read some of the most common myths about HPV vaccine here and help to dispel these myths by sharing accurate and evidence-based information about HPV and HPV vaccination with your friends and family.

Learn more about HPV and HPV vaccination, by reviewing the informative new resources that have been developed as part of the American Cancer Society’s Mission:HPV Cancer Free campaign, to include the following:

Also, hear the stories of HPV cancer survivors and the providers who have cared for them to consider why prevention is critical in our fight to end cancer.

Clinicians and Health Care Providers:

Your strong recommendation is the biggest predictor of whether your patients will receive timely HPV vaccination. To ensure you are prepared to make the most of your discussions with your patients and their parents, check out the library of provider resources available on the National HPV Roundtable website.There is even a special suite of Clinical Action Guides tailored to six different professional audiences, to include:

  • Physician/Physician Assistant/Nurse Practitioner Guide
  • Nurse & Medical Assistant Guide
  • Dental Health Professionals Guide
  • Large Health Systems Guide
  • Office Team Guide
  • Small Private Practices Guide

The goal of the Mission: HPV Cancer Free campaign may be to increase HPV vaccination, but the purpose behind the goal is our ultimate motivator. With the HPV vaccine, we have the power to prevent cancer, and that is something that deserves a chance. By uniting in this endeavor, we can change lives, save lives and make HPV cancer history.

To learn more about HPV cancers and how you help make HPV cancer history, contact us.

contact Vaccinate Indiana

Heather Banks

IIC_SurvivorFlyers_8.5x11_V6.inddI live in Indianapolis. I am a mom, a wife, a teacher, and a cervical cancer survivor. I first found out that I had HPV when I was 31 years old and was just 6 weeks pregnant with my second child. No invasive procedures were needed at that time; however, after my son was born and the HPV cells were still present, additional steps were necessary. In order to try and get rid of the abnormal cells, I had a biopsy as well as a LEEP (Loop electrosurgical excision procedure). Th e results of the LEEP came back showing that I had Stage 3 cervical cancer. Even though I had no risk factors for HPV or cervical cancer, my story proves that HPV and cervical cancer “can happen to anyone.” My treatment included a hysterectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy. I have been cancer free for 5 years and I advocate for HPV awareness, vaccination, and early screening and testing.  Read more…

Ashley Goeller

IIIC_SurvivorFlyers_8.5x11_V6.indd was 18 years old and a freshman at Indiana University. I went to the doctor because I had fl u-like symptoms. About 12 hours later, a rash developed and I was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where I was given a medication called Xigris within 20 minutes of arrival.

My parents were told that I had Meningococcal Meningitis and that I had a 20% chance of survival and to prepare
for the worst.  Read more…

Tarrah K.

“I am so glad I found your website. With the amount of misinformation about vaccines on the Internet, it’s hard to find a reliable source for up-to-date info. So first, I want to thank you for educating Indiana about the importance of getting vaccinated.

When I had my first child in 2009, I was completely oblivious to the vaccine debate. I had no idea there was even a choice on the matter. When I took my son to receive his first round of shots at the pediatrician’s office, I was asked if I wanted him to receive all of his vaccinations at the visit. Then I had to give oral “permission.” I had an “Are you kidding me?” moment. Not everyone gets their children vaccinated? Why in the world not? Call it “living under a rock”, but I had no idea.

I then began researching the topic. As a new parent, I started wondering if there really could be something to this. Was I doing what’s right for my child?

Long story short, the answer I came up with was YES YES YES. I firmly believe getting my children (and myself) vaccinated is not only safe, but it is one of the most loving gifts I can give them. I can’t protect my children from everything, but I know vaccinating them is something I CAN do.

I will continue spreading the word about vaccines, not spreading illness!

Thanks again. You guys rock!”

Tarrah K. 10-6-11

Easy-to-Read Immunization Handouts

The Immunization Action Coalition has developed some great handouts that provide important information regarding vaccinations at a level easy-to-understand. Please visit to view the different resources available!

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