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Giannitrapani KF, Brown-Johnson C, Connell NB, Yano EM, Singer SJ, Giannitrapani SN, Thanassi W, Lorenz KA. Promising Strategies to Support COVID-19 Vaccination of Healthcare Personnel: Qualitative Insights from the VHA National Implementation. Journal of general internal medicine. 2022 May 1; 37(7):1737-1747.
BACKGROUND: In August 2021, up to 30% of Americans were uncertain about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, including some healthcare personnel (HCP). OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to identify barriers and facilitators of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) HCP vaccination program. DESIGN: We conducted key informant interviews with employee occupational health (EOH) providers, using snowball recruitment. PARTICIPANTS: Participants included 43 VHA EOH providers representing 29 of VHA''s regionally diverse healthcare systems. APPROACH: Thematic analysis elucidated 5 key themes and specific strategies recommended by EOH. KEY RESULTS: Implementation themes reflected logistics of distribution (supply), addressing any vaccine concerns or hesitancy (demand), and learning health system strategies/approaches for shared learnings. Specifically, themes included the following: (1) use interdisciplinary task forces to leverage diverse skillsets for vaccine implementation; (2) invest in processes and align resources with priorities, including creating detailed processes, addressing time trade-offs for personnel involved in vaccine clinics by suspending everything non-essential, designating process/authority to shift personnel where needed, and proactively involving leaders to support resource allocation/alignment; (3) expect and accommodate vaccine buy-in occurring over time: prepare for some HCP''s slow buy-in, align buy-in facilitation with identities and motivation, and encourage word-of-mouth and hyper-local testimonials; (4) overcome misinformation with trustworthy communication: tailor communication to individuals and address COVID vaccines "in every encounter," leverage proactive institutional messaging to reinforce information, and invite bi-directional conversations about any vaccine concerns. A final overarching theme focused on learning health system needs and structures: (5) use existing and newly developed communication channels to foster shared learning across teams and sites. CONCLUSIONS: Expecting deliberation allows systems to prepare for complex distribution logistics (supply) and make room for conversations that are trustworthy, bi-directional, and identity aligned (demand). Ideally, organizations provide time for conversations that address individual concerns, foster bi-directional shared decision-making, respect HCP beliefs and identities, and emphasize shared identities as healthcare providers.