15 Jun Parents Remain Concerned About Childhood Vaccines, Especially for Flu
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Allison Kempe, MD, MPH
Ergen Family Endowed Chair in Pediatric Outcomes Research
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine
Director of ACCORDS (Adult and Child Consortium for Health Outcomes Research and Delivery Science)
University of Colorado School of Medicine | Children’s Hospital Colorado
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: In 2019 the WHO designated vaccine hesitancy as one of the ten leading threats to global health. Although studies have assessed parental vaccine hesitancy in different localities and estimated vaccine refusals nationally, there is little recent US national data on the prevalence of hesitancy about routine childhood vaccines and national hesitancy rates for influenza vaccine have never been assessed. We used a hesitancy scale developed by the WHO to estimate levels of parental hesitancy for both routine childhood and childhood influenza vaccination
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We found that almost 1 in 15 US parents are hesitant about routine childhood vaccines, while 1 in 4 are hesitant about influenza vaccines. Similar proportions are concerned about serious side effects of both routine childhood and influenza vaccines (12% strongly and 27% somewhat agree with having concerns). However, while 70% of parents strongly agree that childhood vaccines are effective, only 26% of parents strongly agree that influenza vaccines are effective.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Despite the fact that vaccines are monitored for safety more than any other medication or treatment we use in pediatrics, parental vaccine safety concerns are still prevalent. Parents need to get their information about vaccines from a trusted provider or from reliable websites such as the CDC or the AAP rather than from social media that is not backed up by science. Parents have significant concerns about the effectiveness of the influenza but should remember than even in years when there is not a good match between the vaccine and circulating influenza strains, the vaccine still prevents more severe disease and hospitalization in children, as well as decreases the ability of children to transmit the disease to vulnerable populations such as the elderly. Therefore, especially in the coming year when COVID disease may also be circulating, they should have their children receive the influenza vaccine.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We need to study more strategies to convince parents with concerns about the safety and effectiveness of childhood vaccines to protect their children against vaccine-preventable diseases. We also need to follow the level of hesitancy at least yearly and examine the causes in order to assess whether hesitancy is increasing or responding to public health interventions.
I have no financial disclosures or conflicts of interest.
Parental Hesitancy About Routine Childhood and Influenza Vaccinations: A National Survey
Allison Kempe, Alison W. Saville, Christina Albertin, Gregory Zimet, Abigail Breck, Laura Helmkamp, Sitaram Vangala, L. Miriam Dickinson, Cindy Rand, Sharon Humiston and Peter G. Szilagyi
Pediatrics June 2020, e20193852; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-3852
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