Survey Sheds Light On National Attitudes Towards Vaccinations

Results from a recent national survey of primary care physicians has shed light on the general attitudes parents in the United States hold towards childhood vaccinations.Major findings include that a majority of physicians think that parents’ level of concern about vaccines has either “greatly” or “moderately increased” in the past five years and that physicians feel they are spending a significant amount of time discussing vaccine safety with parents. Some physicians worry that the increased discussion of vaccine safety is too time-consuming and can cause parents to ignore other health care topics.

The study was led by Allison Kempe, MD, MPH, professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and director of the Children’s Outcomes Research (COR) Program at The Children’s Hospital.

According to the results, in a typical month, 79 percent of physicians report at least one vaccine refusal; 8 percent report refusals for more than 10 percent of children. Eighty-nine percent report at least one request to spread out vaccines, and 20 percent report these requests for more than 10 percent of children.

Other study findings include:

+ 40 percent of physicians require parents to sign a form if they refuse a vaccination.

+ Most physicians would agree to spread out vaccines in the primary series at least sometimes.

+ 10 percent of physicians would dismiss families from their practice if they refuse vaccines in the primary series.

+ Physicians found the most success in convincing reluctant parents to vaccinate their children by sharing personal stories, such as the fact that they vaccinated their own children or grandchildren

Kempe said a multi-pronged approach may be best for relieving parental fears about vaccines.  As part of her suggested approach, she advised utilizing social marketing aimed at parents, directly countering misinformation about vaccines in the media, and training physicians how to communicate effectively with parents about the risks and benefits of vaccines.

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.