WebMD Medical News
Laura J. Martin, MD
March 1, 2010 -- Most parents believe vaccination is a good way to protect
their children from potentially deadly diseases, but a new survey shows more
than half still worry about the possibility of vaccine side effects.
The study shows 88% of parents follow the child immunization schedule
recommended by their doctor, but 54% are concerned about serious vaccine side
effects. Although parents overwhelmingly share the belief that vaccines are a
good way to protect their children from disease, these same parents express
concerns regarding the potential adverse side effects and especially seem to
question the safety of newer vaccines," write researcher Gary L. Freed, MD, MPH
of the department of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of
Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues in Pediatrics.
Researchers say parents who are concerned about vaccine side effects are
less likely to vaccinate their children. In fact, the study showed one in every
eight parents has refused at least one vaccine recommended by their child's
Newer vaccines, such as varicella, meningococcal conjugate, and HPV (human
papillomavirus) were more likely to be refused than older vaccines like the MMR
(measles, mumps, rubella vaccine).
In the study, researchers surveyed 1,552 parents about their attitudes
regarding vaccines. Overall, 90% of parents said vaccines were a good way to
protect their children from disease, and 88% said they generally do what their
doctors say regarding vaccination.
However, the results show that despite a lack of scientific evidence
supporting a link between autism and vaccinations, more than one in five
parents continue to believe that some vaccines cause autism in healthy
Women were more likely than men to believe some vaccines cause autism, to be
concerned about vaccine side effects, and to have ever refused a vaccine
recommended for their children by a doctor.
The study also showed that Hispanic parents were more likely than white or
African-American parents to say they followed their doctor's recommended
immunization schedule and less likely to have ever refused a vaccine. But
Hispanic parents were also more likely to believe in a link between autism and
vaccinations and be concerned about vaccine side effects.
"Although information is available to address many vaccine safety concerns,
such information is not reaching parents in an effective or convincing manner,"
write the researchers. "Continued high childhood immunization rates will be at
risk if current safety concerns are not addressed effectively and increase in
the future, resulting in more parents refusing vaccines."
SOURCES:Freed, G. Pediatrics, April 2010; vol 125: pp 654-659.News release, American Academy of Pediatrics.
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