Team of doctors having a meeting in the meeting room

On August 16, we were fortunate to have a panel of four local experts discuss immunizations and vaccinations in our communities. The panel answered a series of questions, which included:

  1. What does data show us about immunization rates of influenza, pneumococcal and COVID-19 in the Dakotas and how can the data be useful in promoting these immunizations?
  2. How does a provider have a conversation about taking an immunization when they know they are going to meet resistance from their patient? 
  3. Access to these vaccines can be hard, especially in rural areas. How can access be improved?
  4. What is the benefit of entering immunizations into an Immunization Information System?

If you missed the Roundtable, you can access the recording via the link below.

Access the Recording

Panel Members included

  • Kylie Hall, MPH; Operations Director; North Dakota Center for Immunization Research and Education Program
  • Jenny Galbraith, BA; Adult Immunization Manager; North Dakota Department of Health
  • Tim Heath; Program Manager: South Dakota Department of Health
  • Andrea Polkinghorn, BSN, RN, AMB-BC; President; Immunize South Dakota

Polkinghorn set the foundation for the conversation sharing influenza and COVID-19 vaccine data for geographic regions and age breakdowns. She emphasized the power of data, but access to current data is limited. If we don’t measure how we’re doing, we lack the awareness and understanding about the potential for improvement.

The panelists discussed how healthcare workers can overcome barriers, such as educating patients on the value of vaccinations and immunization. Hall shared that when we start thinking about responding to patients who are vaccine-hesitant, we must lean in to the fact that health care providers are the most trusted source of medical information across the board. A trusted healthcare provider can make a difference when it comes to vaccine recommendations. COVID Vaccine Pixabay

Vaccine storage can also be a barrier; especially in rural communities. Galbraith shared a funding opportunity for providers in North Dakota to help offset the costs for vaccine storage and handling. Learn more.

Heath discussed the benefits of the state Immunization Information Systems (IIS) for reviewing health records and helping ensure avoidance of ‘missed opportunities’ when helping individuals stay up to date with vaccinations.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This annual observance highlights the efforts of healthcare professionals to protect patients of all ages against vaccine-preventable diseases through on-time vaccination. This year, NIAM serves as an important reminder to catch up on routine visits and vaccinations that may have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roundtable Resources: