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 physician.
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 children.
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."