Messaging: Recommendations to Encourage Routine Childhood Vaccinations

Each year that kids return to school, routine childhood and age-specific vaccinations are a top public health priority. With the spread of misinformation about vaccine safety, encouraging childhood vaccine uptake is both timely and critical. Informed by national polling data on public opinion regarding routine childhood vaccinations, published by Health Affairs Forefront, the Public Health Communications Collaborative has developed tailorable messaging recommendations to bolster support of routine childhood vaccinations in your community.

Underscore the individual benefits of routine childhood vaccination.

According to poll data, most of the public believes that routine vaccines are safe and effective. However, there is growing opposition to state and school vaccine requirements from caregivers who believe these mandates infringe on their rights. To encourage more support for routine childhood vaccinations:

  • Emphasize the individual health benefits of routine childhood vaccines, such as: preventing severe illness and hospitalization; not missing out on social gatherings with friends and family; being able to participate in extracurricular activities; and not missing school because they are sick.
  • Avoid citing mandates or policies as the primary reason why a child should get vaccinated.
  • Consider a secondary message: Vaccinating your child reduces the spread of diseases to children who cannot access certain vaccines because of age or medical conditions.

Craft separate messaging on COVID-19 vaccines for children and routine childhood vaccines.

Recent poll data suggests that the public feels more apprehensive and less confident about COVID-19 vaccines for children when compared with other routine childhood vaccines. To reinforce the public’s positive view of routine childhood vaccinations:

  • Develop separate messaging for pediatric COVID-19 vaccines and other routine childhood vaccinations, like the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine.
  • Tailor vaccination messaging based on local demographics and attitudes.
  • Emphasize the long-term safety and efficacy record of routine childhood vaccines with scientific and evidence-based data.

Leverage a wide range of trusted messengers in your community to communicate the importance of routine childhood vaccinations.

In addition to obstetricians, pediatricians, and other health professionals–who continue to be generally well-trusted messengers–engage in local listening to identify and garner the support of trusted messengers in the community. Leveraging the support of trusted messengers and ensuring they are sharing accurate information can encourage greater support for routine childhood vaccines:

  • Reach out to trusted community messengers–such as faith-based leaders, community groups, and neighborhood organizers–to build relationships and gauge their willingness to support your communications efforts.
  • Develop a clear and compelling elevator pitch on the importance of routine childhood vaccinations to share with trusted messengers.

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