Vaccine Hesitancy

This message is from the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Committee on Health Workforce regarding vaccine hesitancy and the recent resurgence of measles cases in Canada.

Vaccine hesitancy is described as a delay in acceptance or refusal to vaccinate, despite the availability of vaccination services.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine hesitancy is now one of the top 10 threats to global health, despite robust evidence showing the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. The WHO also acknowledges that health care professionals are among the most trusted sources of information when parents make decisions regarding vaccination.

The College (CRPNA) has the ultimate responsibility for oversight on licensing and practice.  It is within the scope of practice of an RPN to communicate sound, evidence-based advice in their daily practice including promoting vaccine acceptance.

There are reports of health professionals promoting disproven vaccine “alternatives”, the CRPNA , through monitoring and evaluation and follow up on complaints, want to ensure that RPNs provide scientifically valid information on vaccines and do not promote anti-vaccination messages or “alternative therapies” when it is within their scope of practice to comment on vaccines.

While social media influencers have made a significant negative impact on the perception of vaccination in recent years, a parent’s trust in their health care provider (RPN) remains one of the most important predictors of vaccine acceptance.  RPNs should only provide science-based advice and options when discussing vaccination with parents, when it is in their scope of practice to do so.

To assist RPNs in having up- to-date science-based resources on vaccinations in Canada, please review the following:

•         Government of Canada, Vaccines and Immunization

•         Immunize Canada

•         Canadian Paediatric Society

•         Provincial and territorial ministries of health

•         Canadian Vaccination Evidence Resource and Exchange Centre (CANVax)

Health workforce professionals in Canada must consistently deliver sound care based on the best evidence.  They must also play a leadership role in helping combat misinformation and decrease the rate of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, pertussis and influenza, to name a few.

It is the responsibility of the CRPNA to prevent anti-vaccination message from being promoted by RPNs and should a complaint be received by the College against a member for this type of messaging it will be taken seriously and investigated fully.