Talking to vaccine hesitant parents

Provider Resources for Vaccine Conversations with Parents

Parents consider their child’s health care professionals to be their most trusted source of information when it comes to vaccines. This is true even for parents who are vaccine-hesitant or who have considered delaying one or more vaccines. Therefore, you have a critical role in helping parents choose vaccines for their child. 


1. Talking with Parents about Vaccines for Infants
Learn conversational techniques and find resources for discussing vaccines with parents.

2. Preparing for Questions Parents May Ask About Vaccines
Many parents have similar questions about vaccines. Prepare for common parent questions and learn techniques for your immunization conversations.

3. Quick Responses to Infant and HPV Vaccine Questions
Use this printable handout to train staff on how to address parents’ questions about vaccines for children and adolescents.


Click here for list of science-based materials on how to repond to vaccine hesitant parents that are made available from respected sources. 

Generally when speaking to parents about vaccination


For parents that refuse vaccination

All parents and patients should be informed about the risks and benefits of preventive and therapeutic procedures, including vaccination. In the case of vaccination, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends and federal law mandates that this discussion include the provision of the Vaccine Information Statements (VISs). Despite our best efforts to educate parents about the effectiveness of vaccines and the realistic chances of vaccine-associated adverse events, some will decline to have their children vaccinated. This often results from families misinterpreting or misunderstanding information presented by the media and on unmonitored and biased Web sites, causing substantial and often unrealistic fears.


Providing parents (or guardians) with an opportunity to ask questions about their concerns regarding recommended childhood immunizations, attempting to understand parents’ reasons for refusing one or more vaccines, and maintaining a supportive relationship with the family are all part of a good risk management strategy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages documentation of the health care provider’s discussion with parents about the serious risks of what could happen to an unimmunized or under-immunized child. Provide parents with the appropriate VIS for each vaccine at each immunization visit and answer their questions. For parents who refuse one or more recommended immunizations, document your conversation and the provision of the VIS(s), have a parent sign the Refusal to Vaccinate form, and keep the form in the patient’s medical record. The AAP also recommends that you revisit the immunization discussion at each subsequent appointment and carefully document the discussion, including the benefits to each immunization and the risk of not being age-appropriately immunized. For unimmunized or partially immunized children, some physicians may want to flag the chart to be reminded to revisit the immunization discussion, as well as to alert the provider about missed immunizations when considering the evaluation of future illness, especially young children with fevers of unknown origin.