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Fifteen-minute consultation: Vaccine-hesitant parents

Abstract

Vaccination is a proven, highly effective intervention to protect against potentially serious infectious diseases. UK vaccine uptake rates are high overall, but considerable variation exists within and between districts. The main reason for under vaccination is difficulty accessing vaccination services for practical or logistical reasons. While some parents decline specific vaccines, only a small minority decline them all. It is unsurprising that many parents have questions about vaccination, but most are easily addressed. This article provides practical guidance on how to engage effectively with parents with the ultimate aim of supporting informed vaccination decisions. The focus will be on conversations with parents whose concerns make them unsure whether to accept vaccination or who have previously delayed or declined vaccines. In view of recent outbreaks of measles, the example question concerns MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Although conversations with some parents, especially those who are determinedly anti-vaccine, can be uncomfortable, even challenging, it is important to offer all parents the opportunity to discuss their concerns. Even though advice may go unheeded or even be unwelcome, parents can change their minds about previous decisions. Health professionals and the National Health Service are trusted sources of advice about vaccinations and have a responsibility to ensure parents are appropriately informed.

  • vaccine
  • hesitant
  • parent
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