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Ep 55 – Addressing vaccine hesitancy in primary care


Posted 12 Sept 2022


In 2019, vaccine hesitancy was listed as one the top ten threats to global health by the World Health Organization. In this episode, Dr Hannah Rosa explores vaccine hesitancy further, thinking about how we can make a difference in primary care.


Key references discussed in the episode:

  1. Office for National Statistics. Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights: Vaccines. August 2022.
  2. World Health Organization. Ten threats to global health in 2019. 2019.
  3. Betsch C, et al. PLoS One. 2018;13(12):e0208601. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208601.
  4. NHS Confederation. Addressing vaccine hesitancy concerns in Leicester. February 2022.
  5. Murdan S, et al. The Pharmaceutical Journal. 2021;306(7948). doi:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.75260
  6. NHS. Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. 2022.
  7. NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board. Covid-19 vaccine resources in alternative languages and accessible formats.
  8. Nyhan B, et al. Pediatrics. 2014;133(4):e835-42. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-2365.
  9. Watson OJ, et al. Lancet Infect Dis. 2022;22(9):1293-1302. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(22)00320-6.

Key take-home points:

  • Vaccine hesitancy has been identified as one of the top ten threats to global health and there are many complex factors that are often involved.
  • Advice and discussions with healthcare workers have been shown to be an effective way of addressing vaccine hesitancy.
  • We should try to be proactive in raising the issue, listening to patient’s concerns, providing further information and letting patients know that they can discuss the issue further if they have any future questions. The NHS COVID-19 vaccine webpage is a useful resource.
  • If a patient is willing to talk about vaccine hesitancy, consider employing behaviour change techniques, such as by asking the patient to list all the advantages of not being vaccinated and then the disadvantages of not being vaccinated. If, after discussing the points raised, the patient seems more open to vaccination, make sure that they leave with a clear plan in place.
  • When discussing vaccines with vaccine hesitant patients do not use fear, because it can backfire.
  • If a patient is strongly against having a vaccination, avoid getting into a debate or an argument.
  • Addressing vaccine hesitancy often needs to be part of an ongoing dialogue.

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