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J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2011 Jul;23(7):336-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2011.00627.x. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Parental rights and decision making regarding vaccinations: ethical dilemmas for the primary care provider.

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Developmental Therapeutics Program, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.



To discuss the ethical dilemma that a primary care nurse practitioner (NP) must face when parents refuse to have their children immunized.


Review of published literature on the topic.


By listening carefully to their concerns, responding honestly, and providing clear information about the risks and benefits, NPs may be able to build trust and to convince once hesitant parents to have their children immunized. For those parents who refuse, NPs may feel uncertain on how to respond. By considering the ethical principles to which they are bound, autonomy, beneficence, and non-maleficence, NPs can work with the parents to decide what treatment is best for the child.


Providing truthful information to parents and utilizing public awareness through recent discussions in the media and on the Internet may be able to obviate many of the concerns of parents, which may be getting in the way of universal immunization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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