Childhood vaccination is one of the most effective scientific and public health successes
in recent history. Yet, there are many parents who are choosing not to vaccinate their
children. How would you approach a discussion with a parent who is conflicted about
immunizing a child? What are some barriers to effective communication in this
scenario? What characteristics of effective patient-provider communication would you
apply? What is the key message you would convey to this parent?
Childhood Vaccination Health Communication
Vaccination has been the most efficient and efficacious method of disease prevention
in public health. It provides and confers the required immunity against debilitating and life-
threatening conditions. However, there has been vaccination hesitancy among some parents,
which has led to an ethical dilemma for health practitioners (Opel, 2015) . As such, health
communication plays an integral role in the provision of relevant information and in
demystifying the myths that shroud childhood vaccination. Patient-provider communication
seeks to verify facts on vaccination and the merits for the child and the population in general.
Effective communication requires strategies which will eliminate doubts from the parent and
thus allow for vaccination of their children.
Health practitioners should approach the discussion on vaccination with a vaccine-
hesitant parent by the provision of educational and informational material. They should
discuss with the parents on the vaccines required to be administered and give strong
recommendations on why they should be administered (Brewer, Chapman, Rothman, Leask,
& Kemper, 2017) . Additionally, they should also allow for a questions session which will
ensure that they listen to the parent’s concerns. It will also provide the opportunity to directly
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address the concerns raised and provide specific answers for questions which have been
raised and any other additional material.
The key message that would be incorporated in the discussions is the benefits of
vaccination and the role it plays in the health of the child later in life. It would also
incorporate the various myths and demystify them to ensure compliance and acceptance of
vaccination (Opel, 2015) . The barriers to effective communication would include language,
culture, and religion, which would lead to competency, and also the messaging would require
to be sensitive and tailormade to suit the needs of the parent being addressed. Ultimately it
would result in the acceptance of the parent to vaccinate their child.
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Brewer, N. T., Chapman, G. B., Rothman, A. J., Leask, J., & Kemper, A. (2017). Increasing
vaccination: Putting psychological science into action. Psychological Science in
Public Interest, 18(3), 149-207.
Opel, D. J. (2015). The Influence of Provider Communication Behaviors on Parental Vaccine
Acceptance and Visit Experience. The American Journal of Public Health, 105(10),