Addressing vaccine hesitancy among parents - Skills for the GP

A free online accredited CPD program for Australian Healthcare Professionals

Background on Vaccine Hesitancy

A patient with atopic dermatitis Vaccine hesitancy is a term used to describe the reluctance to be vaccinated.
Immunisation is one of the safest and most effective preventative health measures, reducing mortality and morbidity associated with vaccine-preventable diseases.
However, up to one third of Australian parents are reluctant to have their children vaccinated due to concerns about recommended vaccination schedules. GPs play an important role in influencing parental beliefs and attitudes towards childhood vaccinations,3 and the development of effective communication skills to address vaccine hesitancy is vital.
Professor Paul Gaston Van Buynder, MBBS, MPH, FAFPHM
Kerrie Wiley, BSc, MScMed, PhD
Dr. Rodney Pearce, MB BS, FAMA
This activity has been approved by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners QI&CPD Program.
Total Points: 3 Points (Category 2)
This online CME event is an Accredited Distance/Remote based education module as defined by the Professional Development Program of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.
This activity is approved for 2 Core Points.
A mother trying to talk to her misbehaving child.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe vaccine hesitancy and how it presents a barrier to optimal immunisation.
  • Identify common reasons for vaccine hesitancy and explore new strategies to target vaccine confidence.
  • Counsel parents and carers effectively to allow them to make safe and informed immunisation choices for their children.

Questions answered by our expert, Professor Paul Gaston Van Buynder, MB BS, MPH, FAFPHM:

  • Given that most parents are motivated by the wellbeing of their own children as opposed to society as a whole, do you think a discussion about herd immunity would motivate a vaccine-hesitant parent to vaccinate their child? Or are GPs better off framing the reasons for vaccination around the benefits to the individual?
  • The majority of patients have not seen the negative effects of vaccine-preventable diseases. How can GPs better get the message across that there are very real risks associated with not vaccinating their children?
  • Some studies indicate that “debunking” myths with already hesitant parents served to make them even less likely to vaccinate. How can GPs effectively communicate the idea that not all internet sources are equal and to respectfully and effectively correct any misconceptions?
Video of a child therapy session

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