Talking Points for Health Care Leaders to Encourage Vaccine Confidence

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Building vaccine confidence in health systems and clinics

Everyone ages 6 months and older in the United States should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Find vaccines near you at An important way to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates is building vaccine confidence among nurses within health systems, medical practices, and clinics.

These talking points can be used by leadership to increase vaccine confidence with their nurses.

Start from a place of empathy and understanding

The pandemic has been stressful for everyone, especially on nurses and health care workers.

The first step is to acknowledge the disruption COVID-19 has caused in all our lives and provide a space to discuss common concerns about COVID-19 and the vaccines.

Available COVID-19 vaccines

All available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19.

To get the most protection from the vaccines, you need all the recommended doses for people your age.

Updated vaccines are available to help protect against Omicron.

Get an updated COVID vaccine now if you’re 18 or older and:

  • You haven’t yet gotten a COVID vaccine.
  • You’re vaccinated and your last dose was before September 2022.

People 65 and older can now get a second updated COVID vaccine beginning 4 months after their first.

People with a weakened immune system can get a second updated COVID vaccine beginning 2 months after their first. 

If you recently had COVID, you can wait 3 months from when you got sick to get your updated COVID vaccine.

Novavax offers a booster dose of its COVID vaccine, but it doesn’t target Omicron. People 18 and older can get the extra Novavax dose if they’ve completed their primary vaccination series.

Parents and guardians of children under 18: Talk to your child’s vaccine or health care provider about when they need their updated vaccine.

How the available COVID-19 vaccines work

Different types of vaccines are available for use in the United States to protect you from the virus that causes COVID: mRNA (which stands for messenger ribonucleic acid), viral vector, and protein subunit vaccines.

These different COVID vaccines essentially do the same thing:

Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines

It’s common to have mild side effects after getting vaccinated.

Possible side effects include:

  • Soreness or swelling at the injection site
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

These side effects are signs that your immune system is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. It’s working and building up protection against the virus.

We’ve seen no trends of serious or long-term side effects. Side effects usually last a few days at most.


The COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States meet the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness. Tens of millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and all COVID vaccines will continue to be monitored for safety.

Serious health effects from vaccines are very rare. It’s highly unlikely that COVID-19 vaccines will cause long-term health problems. Also, there is no evidence at all that they will cause infertility or cancer.

Your risk for serious health problems is much lower from the vaccine than your risk if you’re unvaccinated and get COVID-19. COVID-19 can leave you with heart and lung damage and other conditions that require long-term treatment. Vaccines are much safer paths to immunity than the disease itself.

Vaccine distribution

The federal government supervises a centralized system to order, distribute, and track COVID-19 vaccines.

The CDC orders all vaccines.

Vaccination providers receive vaccines from CDC’s centralized distributor or directly from a vaccine manufacturer.

States and jurisdictions across the United States are using different Web-based applications for vaccination clinic management.

Getting vaccinated

Everyone ages 6 months and older in the United States should get a COVID-19 vaccine. You have three ways to find vaccines near you:

  • Go to
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829
  • Call 1-800-232-0233

Once I'm up to date with my COVID vaccines, do I need to continue to wear a mask?

To maximize protection from highly contagious variants and prevent possibly spreading COVID to others, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear a mask inside public places when the COVID risk to your community is high.

If you’re at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID, you can also protect yourself by:

  • Keeping at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you.
  • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you don’t have soap and water.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated people must still follow state, local, tribal, and territorial laws, rules, and regulations. That includes public transportation, airport/airplane, local business, and workplace guidance. CDC recommends that everyone ages 2 and older wear a mask on public transportation and while in airports and stations.

People with compromised immune systems need extra doses of a COVID-19 vaccine

People with compromised immune systems are less able to fight infections. If any of the following apply to you, you may need additional vaccine doses:

  • You have a moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency disorder, such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.
  • You have an advanced or untreated HIV infection.
  • You’ve ever had an organ transplant or had a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years.
  • You’re being treated with corticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medicines for such conditions as arthritis, asthma, or an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, sarcoidosis, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.
  • You’re being treated for cancer.

You should also continue to follow current COVID-19 prevention measures until your health care provider says it’s safe for you to stop:

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth around people you don’t live with and when inside public places.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water aren’t available.

Empowering your workforce

Empower nurses by helping them to feel confident in their decision to get vaccinated and to recommend vaccination to their patients. This is the element that is most important for your discussion.

Empowering Tactics:

  • Engage local and national professional associations, health systems, and health care personnel often and early to ensure a clear understanding of the vaccine development and approval process, new vaccine technologies, and the benefits of vaccination.
  • Ensure your practice(s) is equipped to create a culture that builds confidence in COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Strengthen the capacity of nurses to have empathetic vaccine conversations, address myths and common questions, provide tailored vaccine information to patients, and use motivational interviewing techniques when needed.

Five strategies for building COVID-19 vaccine confidence among health care personnel

Encourage senior leaders to be vaccine champions.

Host discussions where personnel at different levels can provide input and ask questions.

Share key messages with staff through emails, break room posters, and other channels.

Provide information and resources to health care teams about COVID-19 vaccines, how they’ve been developed and monitored for safety, and how teams can talk to others about the vaccines.

Make the decision to get vaccinated visible and celebrate it.

Use the tools available

There are several materials on the CDC website like toolkits that include posters, fact sheets, and social media content that you can use to increase vaccine confidence in your clinic or facility.

For more information and to view the toolkits, visit


The FDA and CDC have the highest standards when it comes to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Their process includes the following procedures:
  • Scientists must first test vaccines extensively in medical studies to ensure they are safe and effective.
  • Before the FDA authorizes a vaccine for use among the public, it ensures its safety by independently:

    • Reviewing the data from the medical studies, and
    • Inspecting the manufacturing facilities.
  • Even after a vaccine has been authorized, the FDA and CDC closely monitor vaccine administration to identify even rare side effects or reactions.
  • The FDA and CDC closely review any reports of side effects or reactions and share these facts with the public.

The extremely rare cases of blood clotting and Guillain-Barré Syndrome following Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine and heart inflammation following Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines—a very small number of cases out of millions of vaccinations—show that the FDA and CDC’s vaccine safety monitoring systems work and catch even the rarest reactions.

Thorough investigations have confirmed that all three available vaccines are safe and effective. However, CDC recommends most people get the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax vaccine.

The monitoring systems ensure that doctors are notified to watch for signs of serious reactions, no matter how rare, and are aware of proper courses of treatment.

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