Communicating Effectively about Vaccines: New Resources for Health Officials

ASTHO has recently released a toolkit entitled “Communicating Effectively about Vaccines: New Resources for Health Officials”. ASTHO partnered with Porter Novelli to develop and test new, innovative messages based on data from a study of over 1,200 U.S. parents we conducted last year to better understand effective messaging to parents about the importance and safety of vaccines. This resource is designed to assist state and territorial health officials in their multifaceted roles of communicating effectively with parents, policy makers, media and the public, as a means of supporting informed decision-making.

Two years ago, the ASTHO membership asked for assistance in better understanding the issues around vaccine hesitancy and what messages are most effective in communicating with the public, the media and the legislature. In August 2009, ASTHO commissioned a survey of parents and guardians to gather information about messages and materials that effectively address parental concerns and promote the benefits of vaccines. The study explored:

• The reasons parents and guardians have for not vaccinating their children.

• The most effective messages for addressing this resistance.

• Vaccine information sources that are most trusted and influential.

An additional objective was to understand the characteristics that distinguish parents who vaccinate from those who refuse, including demographics, attitudes and beliefs, and responsiveness to messages for and against childhood vaccinations. The information from this study was then used to develop the messages and information found in the new toolkit.

The focus of the toolkit is the key messages (see page 7), and the creative advertising concepts (see pages 10 and 11). In addition, there is information on the characteristics of a hesitant parent, a regional breakdown of attitudes, sources of information most used by parents, and strategies on how to best use the information.

Both the toolkit and the creative materials are now available at the ASTHO website.

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