By: Rachel Koransky-Matson, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, A-CTTP
World Immunization Week’s (April 24th–30th) theme of “Long life for all” aims to highlight and promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Vaccination has long been a principal global public health activity, but recently the focus on the CoVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how vital vaccinations can be on a global level. However, there are still many that want to debate the efficacy of vaccination.
Statistics show at least 3 out of every 4 adults are missing one or more of the routinely recommended vaccines1. A recent survey of families in 18 European countries polled for their confidence in childhood immunizations showed 4% of parents were “very hesitant” and 24% were “somewhat hesitant” to vaccinate their children.2 This is nearly a quarter of all patients.
As nurse practitioners, we are responsible for having difficult, emotional conversations with patients and listening thoroughly to their objections, concerns, and acknowledging their research findings. When you hear an objection, don’t respond immediately but clarify their objections. Make sure these patients feel heard. By being responsible listeners and educators, we can have more meaningful and deep conversations with people and the world around us.3
Years ago, I had a family come into the clinic with their newborn and they were “vaccine-hesitant”. There were some valid reasons for them to feel this way based on family history, personal vaccine history, and their research. Contrary to popular belief, they had used and researched valid articles and discourses on vaccination. The idea that everyone is a “Google Doctor” did not apply. After listening and discussing the concerns, we were able to formulate a vaccine schedule that made them comfortable while still fully vaccinating the child. It may not have been the CDC’s recommended schedule or even WHO’s schedule, but it worked. The goal was to get them vaccinated by the time they started school.
Every patient should be offered vaccinations. Find common ground and acknowledge the fears of those that have objections. Be respectful no matter your opinion and provide educational resources. The patient is ultimately in control of the decision. We are here to help educate, support and guide those outcomes.
Learn more and earn CE with our online course, Immunization Update: Vaccine Recommendations Across the Lifespan, or 2021 Infectious Disease bundle, available at our Learning Center.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021) Strategies for Increasing Adult Vaccination Rates. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/adults/for-practice/increasing-vacc-rates.html
2 Hadjipanayis, A., van Esso, D., Del Torso, S., et al. (2020). Vaccine confidence among parents: large scale study in eighteen European countries. Vaccine. 38(6): 1505-1512. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.11.068
3 Reynolds L et al (2020) Nurses as educators: creating teachable moments in practice. Nursing Times [online]; 116: 2, 25-28.