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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vaccination Attitudes

A new study looks at attitudes toward vaccines. Chris Fleming writes at the Health Affairs blog:

Most children in the United States are getting regularly scheduled immunizations for infant and childhood diseases. But a new survey shows that some parents remain unpersuaded that all vaccines are safe or even necessary.

The survey was published yesterday in the June issue of Health Affairs, a thematic volume titled “Strategies For The ‘Decade Of Vaccines’” and supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation also supported theWashington D.C. briefing held in conjunction with the issue’s release. In addition, anIssue Brief was published in conjunction with the global health material contained in the issue.

The blog post quotes lead author Allison Kennedy, an epidemiologist in CDC’s Immunization Services Division.

Kennedy says parental education should include thorough explanations as to why infant immunizations should occur before age two. “That is when children are very vulnerable to contracting severe disease,” says Kennedy. As to other concerns voiced by some parents about vaccine safety, she adds: “There is no credible evidence that vaccines are associated with learning disabilities, including autism.”

Using data from the 2010 HealthStyles survey — conducted annually by Porter Novelli — Kennedy and co-authors surveyed 376 households and examined parental vaccine behaviors, attitudes, concerns, as well as what sources of information they rely on to learn about vaccines.

Although 23 percent of parents reported that they had no concern about vaccines, most parents reported at least one question or concern regarding

· children suffering physical pain from shots;

· children getting too many shots in one visit;

· children getting too many vaccines before age two; or

· children receiving vaccines containing unsafe ingredients.

About 2 percent of parents said that their children would receive none of the recommended vaccines, and 5 percent intended to vaccinate children with some but not all vaccines. Not surprisingly, parents who intended their children to receive some but not all of the recommended vaccines reported having more concerns about childhood vaccines. These parents were more likely to believe children receive too many vaccines during the first two years of life and that vaccines may cause learning disabilities, particularly autism.

The abstract of the Health Affairs article:

The United States has made tremendous progress in using vaccines to prevent serious, often infectious, diseases. But concerns about such issues as vaccines’ safety and the increasing complexity of immunization schedules have fostered doubts about the necessity of vaccinations. We investigated parents’ confidence in childhood vaccines by reviewing recent survey data. We found that most parents—even those whose children receive all of the recommended vaccines—have questions, concerns, or misperceptions about them. We suggest ways to give parents the information they need and to keep the US national vaccination program a success.