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When Patients Question Vaccines: Considering Vaccine Communication through a Material Rhetorical Approach

Heidi Y. Lawrence


Vaccinations are a notoriously difficult topic to discuss with patients, and efforts to persuade those who are most hesitant often fail. In this persuasion brief, common vaccination concerns and skepticisms are reexamined through the perspectives offered by rhetorical studies. This analysis demonstrates why current counter-arguments to vaccine skepticisms often fall short. As an alternative, this article encourages practitioners to consider how the material qualities of vaccinations contribute to their instability and make them difficult for patients to accept. This perspective suggests relationship-building and coalition-building as routes for improving doctor-patient communication about vaccines.


vaccines/vaccination; communication; material rhetoric

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