Some Parents Worry About Side Effects, But Most Still Vaccinate

VaccinationAn overwhelming majority of parents (88 percent) follow their doctors’ recommendations about vaccinating their children, but more than half still worry about the chance of serious side effects, a new national survey reveals.

The survey, which will appear in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics, polled more than 1,500 parents as part of the CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

Among the results:

• About 12 percent say they’ve refused at least one vaccine their doctor recommended for their children;

• Varicella (chicken pox), meningitis, HPV and other newer vaccines were the most likely to be refused.

• 90 percent agree that vaccines are an important part of protecting kids from disease.

• One in four say they believe that some vaccines cause autism in healthy children.

• Two-thirds worry about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine, while one half worry about the illness itself.

The survey found differing reasons for vaccine refusal. The most common reason parents gave for refusing the HPV vaccine, for instance, was a belief that there hadn’t been adequate research on it. Chickenpox vaccine was most often refused because parents preferred to have their children get the disease.

The fact that reasons for vaccine refusal differ is important, notes the study’s lead author, Gary L. Freed, M.D., because it means that parents are weighing the pros and cons of each vaccine individually.

Sometimes, pediatricians wrongly assume that a parent who refuses one vaccine will also refuse others, he says. Freed also states that he believes public health education efforts need to be targeted to satisfy “parents’ concerns” about what he calls a disturbing and inaccurate belief that vaccines may cause autism.

Learn more about the poll at

– Christina Elston

Posted March 2010