December 2, 2021

SWHR’s Vaccine Roadmap Guides Communities in Vaccination Conversations

By Monica Lefton, SWHR Communications Manager.

Women are often key sources of health information and advice for their social networks and make an estimated 80% of all household decisions about the health and health care of their families. This puts women caregivers in a unique position to ensure their family members receive appropriate vaccines as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their health care providers. Vaccines can slow, and potentially prevent, the spread of infectious diseases, so improved immunization rates are vital for reducing disparities in health care and disease across all age groups. 

It is, therefore, important for women to have access to scientifically-based and culturally-relevant information about vaccinations for all life stages. Community health leaders, service providers, and policy and advocacy groups are all well-positioned to effectively connect with women caregivers and serve as resources for information about vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.  

To assist community program planners, organizations, and agencies as they develop immunization education outreach programs, the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) launched its Crucial Vaccination Conversations: A Roadmap to Engage Women and Their Communities this fall. While created with special consideration for reaching women, the questions, templates, and guidance provided in this roadmap can be adapted for a range of target populations and objectives.  

There are four key steps identified in the roadmap for engaging women in conversations surrounding vaccines, each with a list of relevant considerations for discussion: 

  1. LOOK: Identifying Your Audience 
  2. LISTEN: Understanding What Matters 
  3. LAYOUT: Adapting Program to Community Needs
  4. LINK: Engaging in Culturally Competent Conversations 

The roadmap also includes a list of existing vaccine resources, partnerships, and community initiatives that may be helpful for groups in their outreach efforts.  

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to community vaccine engagement, SWHR has crafted this roadmap to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of each audience and organization. This roadmap is intended to guide a deliberative and iterative thought process that involves community participants and leaders, public health and health care professionals, program staff, and others key stakeholders at each stage of initiative development. 

Download The Vaccine Roadmap

The roadmap was developed with the guidance of SWHR’s Immunization Education Working Group, a diverse group of public health researchers and professionals, community leaders, and patient advocates who have extensive experience working in vaccine education and health care organizations.  

This roadmap also builds on existing immunization education resources created by SWHR, including the Maternal Immunization: Quick Guide, to help pregnant people navigate maternal vaccination recommendations before pregnancy, through the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters, and during the postpartum period. 

Thanks to our sponsor Merck & Co. for their support of this educational work.