Talking with parents about immunisation
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Talking with parents about immunisation

Helen Donovan Public health adviser RCN, specialist nurse in health protection and immunisation
Helen Bedford Senior lecturer in children’s health, UCL Institute of Child Health, London

Helen Donovan and Helen Bedford offer communication strategies for health professionals and practical advice on where to access resources

This article is aimed at all those involved with immunisation. It is important that everyone who provides parents and carers with information about immunisation knows where and how to get useful and, more importantly, reputable resources and information to support parents. This includes those involved in giving vaccines as well as those advising and discussing immunisation. Maintaining trust in the programme is paramount and staff have to be up to date and knowledgeable. The vaccination rate in the UK is rising, which suggests that parents are generally satisfied with the immunisation process. There is, however, still room for improvement and evidence to suggest that a significant proportion have criticisms. These mainly relate to the information given being biased, unbalanced or inconsistent. It is sometimes difficult to discriminate between authoritative evidence-based sources and those based on anecdote and misinformation that often adopt an anti-vaccination position. It is important that health professionals do not underestimate the power of these negative messages. This article discusses how to respond to some frequently asked questions and where staff can go to access useful and reliable information and where to direct parents and carers to look.

Primary Health Care. 23, 4,16-20. doi: 10.7748/phc2013.05.23.4.16.e741

Correspondence

helen.donovan@rcn.org.uk

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 21 January 2013

Accepted: 29 January 2013