Vaccine hesitancy is a global public threat. There is a massive amount of misinformation online and on television. So massive, in fact, that 73% of people in the U.S. have been exposed to medical or health-related misinformation. As public health professionals, we must do everything we can to cut through the noise and present patients with facts.
The good news — doctors, and nurses are trusted messengers. A recent survey has found that when it comes to vaccines, American adults view doctors and nurses as their most trusted source of information. And when healthcare providers take the time to answer parents’ questions and share positive, personal experiences about vaccines, parents are more comfortable choosing to vaccinate their children.
Here are a few tips to help you address vaccine-hesitancy with your patients:
- Make a clear and strong recommendation.
Studies have found that when a healthcare provider recommends a vaccine to a patient, vaccination rates can be as much as 20% to 40% higher than when a vaccine isn’t offered.
- Ask why they are hesitant.
Address their concerns by asking what they are concerned about. Ask until you have addressed all of their concerns. When they are finished, thank them for sharing Keep asking until the patient runs out of concerns. Doing this will give you a sense of whether their concerns are rooted in a lack of knowledge or misinformation, which should help you better address them.
- Counter any misinformation.
Politely ask where they heard the information and then calmly provide factual information. Offer resources where they can learn more.
- Explain how getting a vaccine can help protect loved ones.
Research has shown that a willingness to protect others is a significant motivation for some people to vaccinate. Offer a high-level explanation of community immunity and let them know that when they are vaccinating themselves, they’re protecting vulnerable friends and loved ones.
- Leave the door open for future discussions.
Thank them for sharing their concerns and listening, and let them know that your office is available to answer any questions they may have.
People who are hesitant about vaccines may simply need more information from a trusted source to decide.