Vaccination refusal: ethics, individual rights, and the common good

Prim Care. 2011 Dec;38(4):717-28, ix. doi: 10.1016/j.pop.2011.07.009. Epub 2011 Sep 17.


Among the obstacles to the success of vaccination programs is the apparent recent increase in hesitancy and outright resistance to the recommended vaccination schedule by some parents and patients. This article reviews the spectrum of patient or parental attitudes that may be described as vaccine refusal, explores related ethical considerations in the context of the doctor-patient relationship and public health, and evaluates the possible responses of physicians when encountering resistance to vaccination recommendations. Health care providers should view individuals hesitant about or opposed to vaccines not as frustrations or threats to public health, but as opportunities to educate and inform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Medical
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Immunization Schedule*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Public Health
  • United States
  • Vaccines / administration & dosage*


  • Vaccines