How to Educate Parents About Vaccinations

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The best way to educate parents is through dialogue; acknowledging their questions and concerns.

 

Listen

To have a dialogue, you must listen. You need to find out what the parents’ concerns are and what questions they have so you can address their fears and lack of knowledge. When listening, body language is important. Make eye contact and nod your head occasionally to show you are following along.

 

Encourage questions and answer those questions openly and honestly. Even if parents are misinformed or uninformed, you need to treat their concerns respectfully and politely. The idea is not to lecture or dismiss parents’ concerns, but to work with them to help them understand what vaccinating is all about. You need to build a rapport and trust with parents.

 

What to say

Some parents feel more comfortable when a healthcare provider uses personal anecdotes when explaining the benefits of vaccination. Other parents are more oriented toward facts and figures and want to know the science behind vaccinations. And still others are most reassured with hearing a combination of the two.

 

The healthcare provider can get a sense of the kind of information parents want from their questions and concerns. Then tailoring your response with the right mix of science and anecdote.

 

Talk about side effects

It would be dishonest not to. But while doing so, stress the benefits vaccinations have of protecting the child from serious, even life-threatening diseases. Parents need to know they are taking a much larger risk with their child’s health by not vaccinating them.

 

Making the shots less frightening

You can also talk about how to make the shots more palatable to their child. With infants, bring along a favorite blanket or toy, something the child feels comfortable with and that gives them a sense of security. Naturally, talking in a soothing way to the child helps also.

 

If the parents still refuse

If the parents do not want to have their child vaccinated, give them information about the early signs and symptoms of the diseases targeted by vaccination.

 

There is also a fact sheet you should recommend published by the Centers for Disease Control detailing the health risks of not having a child vaccinated. It is called If You Choose Not to Vaccinate Your Child, Understand the Risks and Responsibilities and is located at (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/conversations). Let them know anytime they would like to talk about vaccinations or have any questions or concerns, you would be happy to talk with them.

 

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