The measles outbreak at Disneyland in California earlier this year and the outbreak in Wales in 2012-13 which infected over 1000 people, have made vaccination and herd immunity hot topics in the healthcare community and the public alike. Never has there been a time where anti- and pro-vaccine propaganda has been most prevalent in the media and on the Internet. When choosing whether to vaccinate a child, parents are being bombarded with conflicting messages, making it confusing, emotional and altogether overwhelming to make a decision. This article discusses approaches that can be used to support parents in their vaccine decision-making.
Vaccine uptake and herd immunity
The WHO recommends that 95% of children in the United Kingdom should be immunised against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Hib, measles, mumps and rubella.1 As healthcare professionals, we have a duty of care to contribute to the prevention of infectious diseases both at an individual and population level by promoting vaccination. By vaccinating a large proportion of individuals, we provide indirect protection for the wider, unvaccinated population through herd immunity.1
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