Vaccine acceptance: Addressing hesitancy, instilling confidence
By Atlantic Health Partners
Cited as one of the top threats to universal health, vaccine hesitancy jeopardizes the progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. Although evidence demonstrates that immunization is the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases, a growing number of people are reluctant to receive recommended vaccinations. 

As trusted advisors, physicians play a highly influential role in vaccination decisions. By identifying the driving factors behind vaccine hesitancy, physicians can counter these barriers with solutions that encourage vaccination uptake. 

Understanding hesitancy 
Contrary to popular belief, vaccine hesitancy isn’t a single phenomenon that equates to a hardline negative perspective on immunization. As a part of a spectrum, vaccine hesitancy represents a range of attitudes shaped by individual and sociocultural factors. The driving factors of vaccine hesitancy include fear of side effects, low perception of efficacy, negative past experiences with vaccination services, lack of knowledge, complacency, racial disparities, cost and convenience to access. As barriers to vaccine acceptance, these detriments contribute to under-vaccination for all age groups. Misinformation regarding vaccines also is a notable challenge to vaccine acceptance. A 2019 survey found that 15% of Americans mistakenly agreed with the common claim that vaccines are full of toxins. 

Developing confidence 
Moving the needle from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine confidence, physicians are key players in establishing trust in vaccines. They can address misconceptions, concerns  and apprehensions by educating patients about the risks and benefits of vaccines. In delivering a strong recommendation, physicians may want to consider shifting to presumptive language to encourage vaccination. Providers could also take an informative approach by reviewing with a patient how vaccines are developed. Vaccine decision-making can elicit different thoughts and feelings for patients; physicians should share information using two-way communication.

Vaccine acceptance is critical to the high vaccination rates needed to achieve herd immunity. To reduce vaccine hesitancy, it’s important to understand the causes. Physicians have a critical role to play in vaccine acceptance by assuring patients that vaccination is safe and effective.

Atlantic Health Partners has helped many ISMA members strengthen their immunization performance by providing reimbursement guidance, advocacy and timely updates. To learn more, contact Cindy Berenson at 800-741-2044 or by email