Communicating With Vaccine-Hesitant Parents: A Narrative Review

Acad Pediatr. 2021 May-Jun;21(4S):S24-S29. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2021.01.018.


Although vaccines are considered one of the most effective medical interventions to prevent vaccine preventable disease and associated morbidity and mortality, a number of recent outbreaks are threatening the gains made by vaccines. Vaccine hesitancy is a key driver of vaccine refusal and has been associated with vaccine preventable outbreaks. While parents seek information from many sources to inform their vaccine decision-making process, they continue to view their child's pediatric provider as a trusted source of vaccine information. The communication that occurs between a provider and parent with regards to vaccination is critical in reducing concerns and nudging parents toward vaccine acceptance. However, vaccine-hesitant parents raise issues in this encounter that many providers feel ill-equipped to answer, due to lack of training on evidence-based communication strategies. We focus on promising approaches related to patient-provider communication within the context of vaccination. We found empirical evidence that the use of a presumptive format to recommend vaccines, motivational interviewing, and tailoring information to increase message salience are approaches that can positively affect vaccine acceptance. As providers continue to serve as important influencers in the vaccine decision-making process, it is evident that there is a need to continue to identify evidence-based, and practically implementable approaches to mitigate parental vaccine hesitancy. Providers play a key role in improving coverage rates, and therefore it is paramount to seek ways to improve how providers communicate about vaccines.

Keywords: communication; patient-provider interaction; vaccine hesitancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Communication
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Parents
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccination Refusal
  • Vaccines*


  • Vaccines

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