Barriers to parent-provider vaccine discussion


A recent poll showed that some parents do not discuss vaccines with their child’s regular doctor, with many choosing to not have their child receive any vaccines.

Barriers have prevented parents from discussing vaccines for their children with health care providers, according to the CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

Providers often help parents navigate through decisions about their child’s health, including vaccines. Recently, an increase in parental hesitation toward vaccines has been observed. To determine the rate of parents of children aged 6 to 18 years who discuss vaccines with health care providers, researchers conducted a national poll.

Vaccines required for school were most often talked about, with 82% of parents discussing them with their child’s doctor. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines were discussed by 68% and 57% of parents respectively.

There were 15% of parents who did not discuss vaccines with their child’s doctor, with 4% of parents talking with other health professionals about school vaccines, 8% flu vaccines, and 14% COVID-19 vaccines. Healthcare visits were delayed or skipped by 3% of parents to avoid discussion about vaccines.

Positive experiences when talking to doctors were reported by 81% of parents for flu vaccines and 82% for COVID-19 vaccines. Helpful information that helped parents decide on vaccination was reported by 71% of parents for flu vaccines and 72% for COVID-19 vaccines.

In the 2 years prior to the poll, 89% of parents reported their child received vaccines needed for school, 57% flu vaccines, and 57% COVID-19 vaccines. Parents were more likely to report their child receiving vaccines if they had spoken with their child’s regular health care provider.

Difficulties receiving vaccines were reported by 27% of parents, with difficulties more likely for parents who did not speak with their child’s regular health care provider. Of the 6% of parents who reported their child hadn’t received any vaccines, 43% had no discussions about vaccines with health care providers in the previous 2 years.

These results indicate a shift in the role of primary care providers as the main source of vaccine information. Discussions between providers and parents about COVID-19 vaccines are lower than vaccines for school, despite COVID-19 vaccines being newer.

Although some parents worry that questions about vaccines will irritate health care providers, 4 in 5 parents reported health care providers were open to discussion about flu and COVID-19 vaccines. Concerns have also arisen over health care providers not having the knowledge to help make a decision about vaccines, but 70% of parents reported receiving valuable information.

Flu and COVID-19 vaccines saw similar rates of discussion because both are not always available in child health practices. While vaccines needed for school are often readily available, parents may be told that they need to bring their child elsewhere for flu and COVID-19 vaccines even during in-person visits.

Researchers were concerned over the number of parents who do not allow their child to receive vaccines, about half of which did not discuss the subject with health care providers. This keeps parents from learning information which may change their decision on whether to vaccinate their child.


Disruption of parent-provider discussions about vaccines. Mot Poll. November 21, 2022. Accessed November 21, 2022.

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