Many people understand to some extent that their pets need vaccines, but do they truly understand which vaccines dogs and cats need (and when) to be protected against dangerous diseases?
For some reason, too many pet owners don’t comply with the recommended guidelines. The veterinary healthcare team is the most vital link in dogs and cats getting the protection they need. We encourage you to make the most of National Immunization Awareness Month to reinforce the critical importance of protecting animals against dangerous diseases.
Since people tend to understand health issues more when the information is presented in people terms, it may be helpful to browse through the Patient Education section of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website for ideas you can use in your practice.
For instance, you could…
- Bring attention to the importance of vaccines by placing colorful, creative pictures and messaging on your front office bulletin boards.
- Make a plan to bring up vaccinations with pet owners during patient visits. Take the time to explain what the different vaccines are, what the diseases are, the prevalence in your area, any laws that may be in place mandating vaccines and the “what ifs” if they don’t agree to vaccinating their pets.
- Make sure your entire team is on board with messages about the vaccines you’re offering, because pet owners need to be given a clear and concise message at every touch point. Even though most of your team members have a background on vaccinations, Awareness Month is a good time to review what each vaccine if for, the vaccine schedule your hospital follows and recommends, and what to tell clients. Some vaccines may be only recommended for certain circumstances and you’ll want to make sure all team members are on board with this. Getting the team on the same page will ultimately give them confidence in relaying the message to clients and increasing the number of pets that are protected. For excellent vaccination-guidelines reference materials, check out the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) canine vaccinations article and the American Association of Feline Practitioners feline vaccinations chart.
- Check your reminder system to ensure clients are made aware that vaccines are coming due. These days, reminder card and phone calls may not be as effective as you’d like. Consider using email and text messages to make sure you’re reaching clients in ways that work.
- Make the “next vaccination due” appointment the same day they’re in the hospital for their annual visit or other type of visit. Just as we put our follow-up dentist appointments in our calendars, pet owners can do the same for their pets, with a commitment to come back in. If they have to reschedule, use that opportunity to get them to commit to another date and time.
- Include vaccination FAQs on your website and in your August emails/eNewsletters. You could also link to the FAQs in your social media posts.
Whether pet owners are
unaware or not convinced that prevention makes a huge difference, we hope
you’ll find ways to increase compliance during National Immunization Awareness