HHS is committed to providing accurate, timely, transparent, complete, and audience-appropriate information about immunizations and vaccines. This information is designed for parents making vaccination decisions for their children (birth through age 18); adults considering vaccines for themselves; public health partners; providers; policy makers and others.
Communication tools and channels used to disseminate immunization and vaccine information span a broad spectrum: publication of evidence-based recommendations; use of mass media and new media; provider education and training; and support of partner organizations and state immunization programs through provision of resources, trainings, updates, and announcements.
Current communication efforts are informed by research as well as the principles of effective risk communication, social marketing, and social mobilization. Research should be enhanced to better understand the nature of informed decision-making and the elements that support such decisions. Improved communications research can facilitate development of more targeted messages and methods for clearly and effectively communicating about the benefits and risks of vaccines and to address information needs unique to various audiences. The combined efforts of communication scientists, health services researchers, and others can enhance the development and implementation of long-term, sustainable plans for gathering reliable real-time data about facilitators of and barriers to vaccine acceptance, translating those data into practical solutions. This research also enhances efforts to promote the adoption of vaccine recommendations to prevent disease and improve the public’s health.
The 2010 National Vaccine Plan recognizes the importance of communication activities that are strategic, science-based, transparent, and culturally appropriate. Communication strategies should reflect the health literacy level and English proficiency of specific target population groups, as well as considerations of the accessibility of information to individuals with hearing, visual, cognitive, or other limitations. Related to these goals are the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders engaged in vaccine communications and education. Policy makers, such as federal, state, and local legislators; health departments; employers; third-party payors and others, are critical stakeholders in the vaccine enterprise. Collaborating with public health decision-makers across the health sector is critical to realizing the full vision of the plan. Health care providers, advocacy groups, the public health community, and community and faith-based organizations can serve as strong and credible immunization advocates about the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, the benefits of vaccination, recommended schedules, the supply and financing of vaccines, and the possible risks associated with vaccination. Public-private collaboration on communication and education activities will be critical to achieving the goal and objectives set forth by the Plan.
While the focus of Goal 3 is on communication and education issues relevant to informed decision-making, these issues are also relevant to each of the other goals of the 2010 National Vaccine Plan. Topic-specific communications and education activities are described in Goals 2, 4, and 5.
- Utilize communication approaches that are based on ongoing research.
- Build and enhance collaborations and partnerships for communication efforts.
- Enhance delivery of timely, accurate, and transparent information to public audiences and key intermediaries (such as media, providers, and public health officials) about what is known and unknown about the benefits and risks of vaccines.
- Increase public awareness of the benefits and risks of vaccines and immunization, especially among populations at risk of under-immunization.
- Assure that key decision- and policy makers (e.g., third-party payers, employers, legislators, community leaders, hospital administrators, health departments) receive accurate and timely information on vaccine benefits and risks; economics; and public and stakeholder knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs.
For more information on this goal and the defined set of strategies for achieving each objective mentioned above, view the National Vaccine Plan.