Global Vaccine Safety

Six common misconceptions about immunization


This list of six common misconceptions was originally written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States primarily for use by practitioners giving vaccinations to children in their practices. An edited version is reproduced here as useful information for health-care workers giving vaccination as well as concerned parents. In this modern age of communication, health-care workers will encounter patients who have reservations about getting vaccinations for themselves or their children. There can be many reasons for fear of or opposition to vaccination. Some people have religious or philosophic objections. Some see mandatory vaccination as interference by the government into what they believe should be a personal choice. Others are concerned about the safety or efficacy of vaccines, or may believe that vaccine-preventable diseases do not pose a serious health risk.

All health-care workers giving vaccines have a responsibility to listen to and try to understand a patient's concerns, fears, and beliefs about vaccination and to take them into consideration when offering vaccines. These efforts will not only help to strengthen the bond of trust between staff and patient but will also help determine which, if any, arguments might be most effective in persuading these patients to accept vaccination.

These pages address six common misconceptions about vaccination that are often cited by concerned parents as reasons to question the wisdom of having their children vaccinated. If staff can respond with accurate rebuttals perhaps we can not only ease parents' minds on these specific issues but discourage them from accepting other anti-vaccine "facts" at face value. The goal of health care providers is not to browbeat parents into vaccinating, but to make sure they have accurate information with which to make an informed decision.

WHO gratefully acknowledges the permission of CDC Atlanta, to present an edited version of "Six common misconceptions about immunization".