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Practice Management Tips

Flu fast facts: vaccine information statements

Your patients come to the office for a flu vaccine, and along with the shot, you give them a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS). Some give it a cursory glance, others don’t look at it at all, and others read it carefully.

Just because people have information about the vaccine, though, doesn’t mean they understand what they’re looking at. It helps when preparing for #NIVW2016 to make sure you, your nurses and others know how and when to provide the VIS and how to answer common concerns.

Just because people have information about the vaccine, though, doesn’t mean they understand what they’re looking at. It helps when preparing for #NIVW2016 to make sure you, your nurses and others know how and when to provide the VIS and how to answer common concerns.

Ways to Distribute

Influenza Vaccine VISYou can download different English language files of the VIS from the CDC website. You can also get translations from the Immunization Action Coalition’s website.

Each patient must receive a VIS prior to the vaccination, but it doesn’t have to be a paper copy. You can laminate a permanent copy to post in a prominent location or share an electronic copy on a smartphone or tablet. You can share a copy of the VIS by email prior to a visit and then point the patient to a posted copy once in the office.

Remember to record in the patient’s record that you provided the VIS, along with the date on the VIS and the date it was provided.

The Latest Information

Although the virus changes every year, the vaccine recommendations, including side effects and dosing, stay the same. The CDC has decided not to update the VIS every year, only when significant changes have been made to the vaccine. The current Influenza VIS is from 8/5/2015.


A VIS is not a consent form. It is primarily for imparting information to help a patient make the decision whether or not to get a flu vaccine. However, in some states, the VIS may be used as informed consent if it conforms to the state’s laws.

Patient Understanding

Flu Shot Q&AThe CDC says the VIS is written at a 10th grade reading level and that patients questioned haven’t had trouble understanding it. Look for signs that the patient understands the information provided, even reading parts of it if necessary. Many people are nervous about vaccine side effects, and it’s important to make sure the patient understands the risks and benefits of getting a flu vaccine, as well as instances when they should skip the shot.

Basic Flu Information

For patients who are nervous about getting the vaccine, the VIS can be overwhelming and a little scary. Reassure them that the vaccine does not contain an active virus and cannot give them the flu. They also need to understand that side effects are rare and usually mild, much more tolerable than getting the flu.

I’m curious, do you give your patients a paper VIS at your medical practice or use an electronic copy. Let me know in the comments below.


Patricia Chaney
Patricia Chaney is a freelance writer specializing in the healthcare industry. She has 10 years of experience covering the healthcare industry and providing insight to physicians and patients. She is able to condense complicated health information into easily digestible articles.

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