A Nursing Approach to the Largest Measles Outbreak in Recent U.S. History

Lessons Learned Battling Homegrown Vaccine Hesitancy

Blima Marcus, DNP, RN, ANP-BC, OCN


Online J Issues Nurs. 2020;25(2) 

In This Article


Vaccine hesitancy continues to be a growing global problem, with resultant increases in vaccine-preventable infectious diseases. There has been a collapse of trust within the healthcare delivery system. According to Gallup Polls, confidence in the medical establishment has fallen from 80% in 1975 to 37% in 2015 (Baron, 2019). Healthcare has grown and become more impersonal; many feel that care is driven by profits; and the digital age has brought complex information, often confusing, straight to consumers (Baron, 2019).

Misinformation, the use of social media, and the elimination of many infectious diseases together with the collective short-term memory of many people contribute to a reluctance to immunize. Healthcare providers of various disciplines must continue to work together to increase outreach and education. They need to remain aware of current trends in vaccine hesitancy and be able to respond in kind by assisting in vaccine education, supporting relevant policies, and supporting the evidence wherever they practice.

Being fluent in vaccine science is important when speaking to vaccine-hesitant parents, but the delivery method of information must also be thoughtfully intentional. Considering the cultural background of the parents, their health literacy, and using common sense therapeutic communication can help ensure that parents feel heard and respected. This may increase the level of trust in their provider. Public health officials can and should use community partners who are trustworthy, and form relationships with them to improve immunization levels in vulnerable communities.