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Canadian Paediatric Society

Keep vaccine-hesitant parents engaged, CPS advises physicians

Feb 10 2015

OTTAWA—As cases of measles continue to spread across the United States, the Canadian Paediatric Society reminds parents and the public about the importance of timely immunization, and encourages physicians to work with parents who may be hesitant about vaccines. Vaccination is the best way to protect children and youth against many dangerous diseases, including measles.

While most Canadian children are immunized on time, as many as 20 per cent of parents remain hesitant, have concerns about immunization, delay immunizations or outright refuse recommended vaccines.

“Vaccines are safe and effective. By deciding not to vaccinate, you expose your child, family, and even the wider community to risk,” said Dr. Robert Moriartey, President of the Canadian Paediatric Society. “Because of vaccination, today’s generation of parents hasn’t seen diseases like measles or meningitis, but it’s important they understand these remain a very real threat.”

Parents who think their child has been exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease such as measles should call their doctor immediately. If they go to the emergency room or a doctor’s office, they should let the receptionist know beforehand, as a child with a severely contagious illness should not wait in the same room as other children. 

If parents are hesitant or refuse to immunize, physicians should not dismiss children from their practice, advises the CPS. Instead, the goal should be to work with parents and address their concerns. Research shows that a health care provider’s advice is a major influence on parental decision-making. That’s why the CPS recommends that health care providers understand the specific vaccine-related concerns of parents and take the time to address them.

In Working with vaccine-hesitant parents, the CPS recommends that physicians:

  • Understand parents’ specific concerns.
  • Use clear language to fairly and accurately present risks of vaccine benefits and risks.
  • Inform parents about the rigour of the vaccine safety system.
  • Address issues of immunization-related pain.
  • Do not dismiss children from their practice if parents refuse to immunize.

For more information visit: http://www.cps.ca/en/issues-questions/immunization. For information about which vaccines children need, the illnesses they protect against and overall vaccine safety, visit www.caringforkids.cps.ca.

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About the Canadian Paediatric Society

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.

Last updated: Feb 10 2015