Our society always adapts, and this includes new ways to protect ourselves from the spread of disease. Elaine O’Hara, Chief Commercial Officer NA at Sanofi Pasteur, reflects on the importance of vaccines and shares the new resources Sanofi has developed for health care professionals.

Elaine O'HaraAs the hottest time of summer lingers and community pools and other summer fun sites remain largely closed, I’ve been impressed with the DIY solutions—like the blow-up pools and sprinkler setups—I’ve seen cropping up across my hometown in Pennsylvania.

The coronavirus has tossed us all into a period of uncertainty, discomfort, and anxiety, yet we’ve found creative ways to adapt. Whether it’s teachers creating new virtual learning models, neighborhood restaurants building COVID-friendly outdoor dining experiences, or the best minds in science coming together to share valuable information to streamline innovation, I’m inspired by our collective resilience. 

The story of the vaccine is also one about adaptation.

Because of how rapidly our society evolves, including increased travel patterns and changing dietary habits, it’s no surprise that we’re periodically faced with new types of disease.

Our society always adapts. We develop new ways to protect ourselves and put measures in place to prevent the spread of disease. Indeed, the development of vaccines is one of the most important adaptations in history, giving us a powerful tool to help prevent viral and bacterial diseases.

But while our latest method of adaptation—namely, social distancing—has been critical to combating the spread of coronavirus, it’s also, unfortunately, had an unintended consequence: declining vaccination rates.

During the pandemic, people have put off seeing doctors for preventative care like routine vaccinations. For example, since March 13, when the U.S. declared a national emergency around the pandemic, orders of regular childhood vaccine doses, including those containing measles protection, have declined notably.

It’s a scary time, and the reluctance to take your loved ones to the doctor’s office is understandable. However, this threatens to create another public health crisis: a resurgence of preventable disease.

As the pandemic continues toward a collision with the approaching flu season, it’s more important than ever to guard against vaccine-preventable diseases including influenza. Protecting our families during an especially dangerous flu season ensures that our already-overwhelmed healthcare system – and our healthcare workers – are not additionally burdened.

It is time for another adaptation: new techniques for providing vaccinations. At Sanofi, we are working to help ensure that COVID-driven disruptions don’t create a resurgence of other avoidable outbreaks.  

We’ve heard from physicians, who told us they were struggling to prepare their offices for visits and schedule pediatric vaccination catch-ups, boosters, and travel vaccines for their patients.

We responded with Adaptive Vaccination Solutions (AVS) to help physicians maintain patients on their general inoculation schedules and meet anticipated record demand for flu shots while controlling COVID-19 risk.

AVS helps doctors communicate effectively with patients ahead of an appointment – whether through text, phone call, online portal, or telehealth session – and outlines how to address their concerns.

For example, if a patient is due for a certain immunization, the doctor may discuss immunization through a telehealth appointment and address any immediate questions virtually. Then, the patient can come to a walk-thru or drive-thru clinic to receive the actual vaccination. This allows personal, one-on-one dialogue between the patient and the provider in a safer, more comfortable setting. It also facilitates the efficient, secure administering of critical immunizations.

AVS also helps physicians create those walk-thru and drive-thru clinics that safely provide immunizations to patients while maintaining social distancing and easing patient anxieties.

I’m confident humanity will overcome this pandemic as we always have – developing the vaccines we need to protect our communities. In the meantime, we owe it to patients and their physicians to productively adapt so we can use the most powerful tool we have for preventing other outbreaks.

*Access general and influenza immunization AVS resources.