Objective To provide primary care physicians with clinical guidance for addressing parental vaccine hesitancy.
Sources of information The PubMed database was searched for English-language articles published in the 10 years before January 1, 2018. Search terms included vaccine hesitancy or confidence or acceptance, parents or children, and communication, counseling, or clinical practice. References of identified articles were assessed for additional relevant articles. A separate gray literature search was conducted using Google to find best-practice guidelines from public health and health care organizations, knowledge translation materials for health care providers, and resources that could be used in discussions with parents about vaccines.
Main message Practical tips for addressing parental vaccine hesitancy in primary care include starting early, presenting vaccination as the default approach, building trust, being honest about side effects, providing reassurance on a robust vaccine safety system, focusing on protection of the child and community, telling stories, and addressing pain. Also provided are statements that providers could use in vaccination-related conversations; answers to commonly asked questions on benefits, safety, and immunologic aspects of vaccines; and links to a number of online resources for physicians and parents.
Conclusion Vaccine-hesitant parents who are on the fence far outnumber vaccine refusers; therefore, counseling this group might be more effective. Reasons behind vaccine hesitancy are complex and encompass more than just a knowledge deficit. As a trusted source of information on vaccines, family physicians play a key role in driving vaccine acceptance.