Special Sessions and Presentations Address the Challenges of Vaccine Hesitancy


At the end of 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau published findings from its Household Pulse Survey examining the rationale of American adults who were unvaccinated against COVID-19. Almost 50 percent of respondents cited concerns about possible side effects, while over 42 percent reported they “did not trust” the vaccine. Providers across the globe must adopt a strategic approach to facilitate trust, combat misinformation, and assuage patient fears to increase overall vaccination rates.

To assist with these difficult conversations, there will be multiple opportunities at the ATS 2023 International Conference for attendees to learn more, including a special scientific session on the topic. ATS Advancing Adult Immunization Initiative: Immune Boost! Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy and the Landscape of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases will be held on Monday, May 22, from noon–1 p.m. in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Room 207 A-B (Level 2).

Tina Hartert, MD, MPH, Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation, and Justin Ortiz, MD, MS, University of Maryland Medical System, will provide an overview of the importance of vaccines and immunization to respiratory health, discuss the Council of Medical Specialty Societies initiative, and assess new vaccines on the horizon in medicine.

For providers, it can be challenging to determine how direct they should be with a vaccine-hesitant patient.”

ATS President Gregory P. Downey, MD, ATSF

The ATS was one of seven specialty societies awarded a grant from the CMSS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase COVID-19, influenza, and routine vaccination rates among high-risk adult patients nationally. As part of this initiative, the ATS employs a quality improvement approach to form partnerships and fund selected health care systems to test and implement interventions to increase vaccine coverage. Based in part on learnings from this program, the ATS will review and update relevant ATS immunization policy statements, clinical guidance, and member and patient educational materials and share those with its broader membership.

Gregory P. Downey, MD, ATSF
Gregory P. Downey, MD, ATSF

During the special session, Isaretta Riley, MD, Duke University School of Medicine, and Kimberly Fisher, MD, UMass Chan Medical School, will discuss their experiences and data on the most effective tactics influencing vaccine-hesitant patients to become protected. A patient will share their perspective on vaccine hesitancy and how to create a shared decision-making framework between clinicians and their patients to build trust and increase immunization rates.

“For providers, it can be challenging to determine how direct they should be with a vaccine-hesitant patient,” said ATS President Gregory P. Downey, MD, ATSF. “Many patients are exposed to and influenced by misinformation, which makes it very difficult to approach these discussions. It can be beneficial for providers to strategically prepare for these conversations where the patient is challenging the clinician.” 

Also on Monday, from 9:30–10:30 a.m. in the Networking Super Center, Rob Stansbury, MD, West Virginia University; George Su, MD, University of California, San Francisco; and Sairam Parthasarathy, MD, University of Arizona, will present their critical work with the ATS Accelerating Adult Immunization Initiative, along with the lessons and challenges participating providers experienced.

On Tuesday, May 23, from 10:50–11:20 a.m., Drs. Stansbury, Su, and Parthasarathy will join Laura Feemster, MD, MSc, and ATS Past President James Beck, MD, in the ATS Center for a free-flowing discussion about their work to increase patient vaccinations.

Don’t Miss On-Demand Highlights

Unable to attend every session of interest at the ATS 2023 International Conference? Or couldn’t join us in Washington, DC? Access some of the conference’s best content through the ATS 2023 On-Demand Highlights platform, available this summer. It will include more than 100 scientific and clinical symposia, including Keynote sessions, Clinical Year in Review, and Adult and Pediatric Core Curriculum.