Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy Among Guardians


Ravi Jhaveri, MD, shares approaches to addressing common concerns among parents and guardians regarding the flu vaccine for children.

Ravi Jhaveri, MD: As we think about the most common concerns or questions, and then we think about this rising hesitancy that I have alluded to already, I think it’s a multifactorial problem or challenge, and I think that we have to do a multitude of things. So, first, I think a lot of the concerns about flu vaccination involves what I would call the common myths associated with flu vaccine. I think there are still a lot of people who are concerned that getting the flu vaccine will make them sick and can share some experience about how a few days after getting flu vaccine, “I got sick when I was younger, and, therefore, I decided I’m never going to get it again.” And I totally hear and understand that concern because if you don’t understand flu vaccine and you also don’t understand the multitude of other circulating respiratory viruses that are mistaken for the flu, it’s easy to sort of make that assumption. So I try to go back to just some of the basics and try to validate the concerns that families have and say, “You know, this is a completely killed vaccine. It doesn’t have an intact virus. And there are so many other viruses, cold virus, RSV [respiratory syncytial virus], human metapneumovirus.” I don’t go into the details, but just share that there’s so many circulating right around the time that people get vaccinated that inevitably someone is going to get sick soon after getting the flu vaccine, but that it’s not due to the vaccine itself. And so, I think that’s 1 of the primary things, again, just highlighting the idea of concerns about maybe an allergic reaction, whether it’s 2 eggs or some flu component. And, obviously, the concerns about how the…vaccine is prepared, about industry and physician partnerships. [It’s about] trying to address those concerns in a way that goes back to the idea that getting vaccinated against the flu is good for the health of the patient receiving the vaccine, but also it’s important because flu spreads in families to loved ones. Virtually all of us have someone in our close circle either direct family or extended family or neighbors or close friends who has some vulnerable health condition where if they got [the flu], it would really threaten their well-being. We obviously care about these people in our life and so I try to also remind everyone that the vaccine doesn’t just benefit them, but it potentially benefits all those people that makes our lives better. The idea of trying to validate those concerns but then offering some information-based, compassionate answers to go back to sort of the key reasons why someone should get flu vaccine, that has been my approach. As you think about experts in this space, this is also the approach that they take. If we just throw facts at people, that doesn’t resonate with them, but if we can weave that information into a story that is relevant to them and their circle and their loved ones, that is action they’re going to take and that has been found to be most effective.

Transcript is AI-generated and edited for clarity and readability.

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