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Your role in reducing vaccination gaps

Plus tools and techniques to support your efforts

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Just understanding the impact of social determinants of health will not help eliminate health disparities. Let’s explore tools, techniques, and proven strategies you can implement to help reduce vaccination gaps and advocate for adult and pediatric vaccination in your practice.1

The CDC recommends that all health care professionals2:
  • Access immunization status of all patients at every visit
  • Recommend vaccines that patients need
  • Administer needed vaccines or refer to a provider who can immunize
  • Document vaccines received by your patients

Use the SHARE method to make a strong vaccine recommendation2

  • Share the reasons why a vaccine is right for the patient
  • Highlight positive experiences with vaccines to reinforce benefits and build vaccine confidence
  • Address patient questions and any concerns they may have about vaccines, including side effects, safety, and vaccine effectiveness
  • Remind patients that vaccines help protect them and their loved ones from potentially serious illness
  • Explain the potential cost of getting the disease, including serious health effects, time lost (missing work or family obligations), and financial costs

A strong recommendation from a health care provider is the single most important factor in determining whether or not someone gets vaccinated.3

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Be mindful of SDOH by employing greater sensitivity & cultural competence

What is cultural competence?4

A set of skills, values, and principles that acknowledge, respect, and work toward optimal interactions between an individual and people who have a different culture, race, ethnicity, or religion than they do. 

Key components4:
  • Awareness–Being aware of your own individual biases and reactions.
  • Knowledge–Understanding if your values and beliefs about equality line up with your actual behaviors.
  • Skills–Taking practices of cultural competency and incorporating effective and respectful communication, whether within an organization or between individuals. 

Adapted from

Some populations may be more likely to be unvaccinated or undervaccinated due to religious teachings, historical trauma, systemic racism, and/or other societal factors.4

Try these tactics4

  • Listen, acknowledge, and accept that mistrust is present and valid.
  • Offer a strong vaccine recommendation that is based on vaccine safety and effectiveness.
  • Look for opportunities (eg, surveys, focus groups, community meetings) to better understand your community’s vaccine hesitancy concerns.
  • Engage community leaders to help reach populations at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Partner with community members to develop culturally relevant messages about vaccination.
  • Translate materials to reflect local dialects and consider the literacy level of those you hope to reach. 

Understanding patient motivation: For example, concerns about side effects may lead an adult who is disproportionately affected by low income to skip vaccination for fear of illness that could cause absence from work.

Create a culture of vaccination acceptance and encouragement

The environment you establish within your practice plays a critical role in maintaining and increasing vaccination coverage. A setting of acceptance and encouragement helps ensure vaccines are delivered to appropriate patients and on time.1

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  • Encourage all employees within the health care setting to recommend vaccination at all stages of a medical visit4
  • Provide consistent messaging about the importance of vaccines and about vaccine and potential adverse events at all levels1
  • Implement effective workflow processes to take advantage of every opportunity to vaccinate1
  • Designate a vaccine champion to help providers identify, implement, and sustain vaccine delivery improvements5
  • Adhere to proper vaccine storage, handling, and administration procedures1

Find more support for your efforts to help close the vaccination gap.

Tools & resources

Additional strategies


  1. Bjork A, Morelli V. Immunization strategies for healthcare practices and providers. In: Hall E, Wodi AP, Hamborsky J, Morelli V, Schillie S, eds. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (Pink Book). 14th ed. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2021: Chapter 3. Updated August 18, 2021. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Standards for practice: vaccine recommendation. Reviewed May 2, 2016. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Educate the parent and patient. Reviewed May 7, 2019. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  1. Association of Immunization Managers. Chapter 2: Managing vaccine hesitancy during an outbreak: a focus on cultural competency. In: Lessons From the Field: Promoting Vaccine Confidence. Published March 2022. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  1. Resic AA. Establishing and maintaining a vaccine-positive practice culture. Prim Care. 2020;47(3):395-405. doi:10.1016/ j.pop.2020.05.008