Expert consultation meeting: Developing a training course on vaccine acceptance

11 Apr 2019 - 12 Apr 2019
Stockholm, Sweden

Vaccine acceptance and dealing with vaccine hesitancy is increasingly a topic of concern, and empowering frontline healthcare professionals to deal with this challenge is vitally needed at this time. At the beginning of 2019, vaccine hesitancy was included in the top 10 health threats of this year for WHO. In order to improve the skills of European health professionals working in healthcare and public health in addressing the doubts and concerns of patients regarding vaccination, ECDC convened an expert consultation meeting during 11-12 April 2019 to inform the development of a training course on vaccine acceptance.

The aim of the meeting was to consult a group of experts from EU and non-EU countries on the content, methodology of training and dissemination for the development of an ECDC training course on vaccine acceptance. Once developed, the training will address health professionals, as they are at the frontline of interaction with parents, adolescents and care takers when they are trying to decide about vaccinations.

Participants in the consultation meeting included leading experts with backgrounds in areas such as risk communication, behavior change, social marketing and vaccine advocacy, as well as training; experts from EU Member States’ public health agencies, schools of public health and/or primary care (as end users of the future training); and also primary care professionals involved in immunisation in their respective countries.

The meeting was by invitation only. Two of the keynote presentations, namely Dr Heidi Larson, Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, UK, and Prof Dr Arnaud Gagneur, Sherbrooke University in Canada, on 11 April were live-streamed. 

The expert consultation meeting ended with the following conclusions:

  • A wide variety of professionals should ideally be trained in vaccination to increase vaccine acceptance, this includes current and future frontline healthcare professionals (general practitioners/ family doctors, paediatricians, nurses, community workers), pharmacists, gynaecologists, teachers, politicians, journalists.
  • The training about vaccination should include both knowledge around vaccines and immunisation, as well as communication skills to discuss about vaccines and motivate immunisation. Legal aspects at the country level may need to be included.  
  • Investments should be made to include training about vaccination in postgraduate professional development of frontline healthcare professionals, as well as in university curricula for medical, pharmacy, nursing and teachers’ training.
  • The training should be delivered in a blended format, with face-to-face sessions (especially for skills building) and e-learning (especially for knowledge components). Key partners in the training project include academia and nurses’ associations. Course accreditation should be included.
  • While the training content should include common elements at the European level, the training delivery should be done by local trainers, in the local language and adapted to the local realities.
  • The training initiative should be integrated into the broader public health strategies, and already in the planning stage the sustainability should be taken into account. Seeking synergies and partnerships would be key in ensuring long-term success.

Read more on the ECDC website