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Preparing Clinicians for Effective COVID-19 Vaccine Conversations

How can clinicians have effective conversations about the COVID-19 vaccines with parents?

The PRC at UMass Chan was recently funded through the Merck Investigator Studies Program to further test an intervention called CONFIDENCE (Clinicians for Effective COVID-19 Vaccine Conversations for Youth and Adolescents). This project is implementing and further testing an approach to communicating with parents of pediatric patients about the COVID-19 vaccine to improve pediatric vaccine uptake in the clinic. This approach was first developed with our PRC’s Vaccine Confidence Network (VCN) project and pilot-tested with the UMass Memorial Benedict Pediatrics Clinic. The intervention was developed to improve vaccination rates among youth and minority populations, which have continued to lag. Additionally, racial and ethnic disparities persist with lower vaccination rates seen in Black or African American, American Indian/ Alaskan Native, and Hispanic populations. With the increasing likelihood that vaccination against COVID-19 will be a yearly occurrence, there is a strong need to develop effective interventions to support vaccine promotion efforts.

With the leadership of Grace Ryan, PhD and Stephenie C. Lemon, PhD, this new project will conduct a more rigorous pilot randomized control trial (RCT), in partnership with Baystate Pediatrics, to further adapt and test CONFIDENCE. Our goals are to further refine the intervention, conduct a pilot RCT, and then create a detailed manual of operations and intervention toolkit to allow for further scalability. One of our goals in this next phase, is to better understand how we can integrate medical assistants and front desk staff at clinics to serve as vaccine ambassadors to support communications and logistics related to vaccine promotion.

CONFIDENCE is meant to truly be a practice-level intervention that uses a wraparound approach wherein all clinic staff feel invested in the outcome. With this next phase of testing, we will recruit 8 pediatric and/or family medicine practices that serve a patient population that is at least 30% racial and ethnic minority group members, to address the continued inequities in vaccination coverage. Our goal is to establish preliminary effectiveness for the CONFIDENCE intervention and then to potentially further scale up this approach to more broadly address the challenge of pediatric vaccine hesitancy.