What is Vaccine Hesitancy?

Parents care about their children. I care for mine. That is why my children are immunised.

With immunisation uptake in Northern Queensland for 1-5 year old between 92 and 95%, I don’t often meet parents who decline to immunise their children.

In our modern society we are mostly detached from life threatening complications of common vaccine preventable illnesses. It was our great-grandparents generation who were more used to seeing small children dying from diphtheria, tetanus, or measles. Most Australian have no fear of smallpox or polio because we don’t see these illnesses anymore in our community. This edition of Ockham’s Razor talked about the early attempts to control infectious disease in Australia.

Only a small percentage of parents out rightly declined to vaccinate their children. Others have heard the charismatic social media gurus, fear adverse effects, mistrust the motives of government and the influence of pharmaceutical companies.

There are who those who don’t wish to engage in a discussion, and those who are hesitant about making a commitment to immunise. I would like to think as a GP, I have time to explore concerns and provide information that may provide reassurance.

I have put together this post to enable a more informed discussion and open the door to immunisation.

Here is a link to three video resources which I have found helpful.



The Australian Academy of Science produced this document in 2016 to help to improve community understanding of the principles of immunisations. This addresses the science, safety and efficacy of immunisations.

“Immunisation Myths and Realities” is another useful resource. It helps to address certain questions raised by those who are opposed to immunisations.

Questions answered include

  • Vaccines are unsafe
  • Vaccines are not adequately tested
  • Vaccines contain foreign proteins
  • Vaccines are contaminated with foreign viruses
  • Vaccines contain toxic additives

Another Australian resource on vaccine safety is Are vaccines safe?

Many studies have been completed which investigated the link measles, mumps and rubella vaccination and thiomersal to autism. The good thing about these studies is that the data show no relationship between vaccines and autism. The Autism Science Foundation has an extensive list of resources.

I hope this takes away the hesitancy.