[Vaccine hesitancy: discourse analysis of parents who have not fully or partially vaccinated their children]

Gac Sanit. Jan-Feb 2019;33(1):53-59. doi: 10.1016/j.gaceta.2017.07.004. Epub 2017 Sep 18.
[Article in Spanish]


Objective: To analyse and understand vaccination hesitancy discourses, particularly those of people who have decided not to vaccinate their sons and daughters.

Methods: Qualitative study of five individual interviews and two focus groups with people who chose not to vaccinate their children in the province of Granada (Spain).

Results: Mothers and fathers manifest a system of health beliefs different to the biomedical paradigm. From an ethical point of view, they justify their position based on the right to autonomy and responsibility for their decisions. Alleged specific reasons: they doubt administration of several vaccines simultaneously at an early age in a systematic way and without individualising each case; they fear adverse effects and do not understand the variations of the vaccination schedule.

Conclusions: These vaccination hesitancy discourses respond to the individual vs collective conflict; parents defend their right to bring up their children without any interference from the state and focus their responsibility on the individual welfare of their sons and daughters, regardless of the consequences that their actions might have on the collective. In their management of risks, they consider those derived from vaccination more relevant than the individual or collective consequences of not doing so. The vaccines generating most doubts are the more controversial ones within the scientific world. Transparency in communication of adverse effects; authorities respect for other health/disease concepts; banishment of the term "anti-vaccines" from the media and scientific vocabulary, and developing spaces for dialogue are bridges to be built.

Keywords: Ethics; Health policy; Investigación cualitativa; Política sanitaria; Public health; Qualitative research; Reticencia vacunal; Salud pública; Vaccination hesitancy; Vaccines; Vacunas; Ética.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Vaccination Refusal / psychology*
  • Vaccination Refusal / statistics & numerical data*