Every year, billions of doses of vaccine are given in immunization programmes around the world. Vaccines are designed to provoke an immune response in the body, and it is inevitable that this reaction carries a small attributable risk to the health of a tiny minority of recipients. This risk is hugely outweighed by the very significant benefits of immunization in terms of protection from vaccine-preventable diseases and their wide-ranging consequences.

Explaining risks and benefits of vaccines clearly to parents, guardians and vaccine recipients requires effective communication and interpersonal skills from trained health professionals in immunization programmes and educators such as school teachers.

This module will help you to understand public fear and concerns, and how you can improve your communication skills on the subject of vaccine safety.

Module outcomes

By the end of this module you should be able to:

  • 1Understand the need for improved communication on vaccine safety,
  • 2Critically evaluate and assess new information about vaccines before communicating to the target audience,
  • 3Gather information about the various target audiences, who they are, how they perceive vaccine risk and their knowledge about vaccines and safety,
  • 4Outline the fears and concerns of different groups associated with, or likely to be affected by, an immunization programme,
  • 5Design simple, clear and tailor-made messages to communicate information about vaccine safety to your target audience (e.g. parent, vaccinee, clinic staff, media, health professional, drug regulatory authority, health minister, etc.),
  • 6Identify the most suitable means and channels of communication to convey information to different target groups,
  • 7Understand the media as being an important ally in vaccine safety.