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Lisa Black

ITASCA, IL – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in a new clinical report offers guidance for pediatricians and others who care for children on the best ways to address vaccine concerns and increase immunization rates. Keeping communities healthy through the use of vaccines also requires improving everyone’s access to health care and increasing diversity and representation among scientists and health care professionals.
The AAP clinical report, “Strategies for Improving Vaccine Communication and Uptake” will be published in the March 2024 issue of Pediatrics (online Feb. 26). Clinical reports created by AAP are written by medical experts, reflect the latest evidence in the field, and go through several rounds of peer review before being approved by the AAP Board of Directors and published in Pediatrics.
Vaccines prepare children’s and teens’ immune systems to detect and respond to viruses and bacteria, helping them stay healthy so they can take part in activities important for their mental and physical health, education, and development. When many people in a community are immunized against diseases like measles, pertussis, and pneumococcal infection, the diseases are less likely to spread. When everyone can access immunizations, it protects our public health.
“We wrote this clinical report with primary care pediatricians in mind, as we know what an important topic this is for all of us who have these conversations with parents,” said Sean T. O’Leary, MD, MPH, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases and a lead author of the report. “Working with parents who have questions about vaccines is an opportunity to build rapport and trust with a family and, ultimately, protect their children and the community.”
The AAP advises pediatricians to use evidence-based methods of communication with families, including:
•    Making a strong, presumptive recommendation for the vaccines a child is scheduled to receive;
•    Welcoming questions and addressing specific concerns raised by families;
•    Using motivational interviewing to guide families in a decision-making process; 
•    Having a good understanding of the science behind vaccines and vaccine safety to best answer families’ questions.
Pediatricians and other health professionals who care for children should understand the process for vaccine licensure and safety monitoring, so they are able to address parents’ questions and concerns.
The clinical report also highlights the benefit of leveraging systems, organizational approaches, and community initiatives to improve access to vaccines. When people have easy access to public transportation, they can get to a health care provider for themselves or their children. When employers offer paid time off, people can afford to take time away from work to see their doctors or take their children to see a doctor.
Also included in the clinical report are a comprehensive list of vaccine resources, details on vaccine safety surveillance in the United States, common misconceptions with tips for how to address them, and an algorithmic approach to vaccine conversations. Much of the clinical report will be included in the 33rd edition of the Red Book, a digital and print resource that offers guidance on pediatric infectious disease prevention, management and control. The 2024 edition will be published in May, 
 “Pediatricians can begin talking about vaccines with families as early as a prenatal visit and continue communication about immunizations as on ongoing process,” Dr. O’Leary said. “This allows time for pediatricians to address any concerns with parents early on, while building trust and rapport with the family.”


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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