A potential new front in health communication to encourage vaccination: Health education teachers

Eric Plutzer, Seth B. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To assess the potential for a new channel for effective vaccine health communication in the United States: the nation's health education teachers. Methods: Content analysis of current curricular standards governing health education in the fifty states and the District of Columbia, and a 2019 nationally representative survey of middle and high school health education teachers in the United States. Results: Only 12 states require any discussion of vaccines or immunization, and none provide detailed guidance to teachers on critical knowledge that might help young adults make wise immunization decisions. Only 42% of teachers discuss benefits of vaccination and immunization in their classes. In contrast to the teaching of evolution and climate change, only a small minority (2.4%) are classified as vaccine skeptics. Conclusions: Public school health education classes are an under-utilized health communication channel with the unrealized potential to convey medically accurate information to millions of young Americans. Low levels of vaccine skepticism among teachers suggest that this channel can be effectively utilized to improve vaccination uptake and thereby improve collective health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4671-4677
Number of pages7
JournalVaccine
Volume39
Issue number33
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 30 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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