Parents' vaccine concerns on the rise, making accurate information crucial

antiated risks of neurologic effects such as autism, and sudden infant death syndrome. There was no difference between the two groups in frequency of concerns they heard about chronic diseases (asthma, diabetes) allegedly linked to vaccination.

Freed says that the upward trend in parents' vaccine concerns has been suspected for years, as the news media, Internet sites, word-of-mouth and other mechanisms have spread allegations of serious unreported health effects from vaccines, including theories about vaccine preservatives and multiple-disease-preventing vaccines. But the new study quantifies the level to which those concerns are being expressed to physicians -- and shows how those physicians reacted to the concerns and refusals.

"Many of the worries that parents are voicing are addressed by the Vaccine Information Statements, and we found that the vast majority of physicians surveyed had those documents on hand to give to parents at the time of vaccination," says Freed. "But many other issues raised by parents aren't covered in a VIS, because there's no solid evidence linking them with vaccines. These concerns, which often involve fears of more serious health risks than the risks described in the VIS, are what we always need to be ready to respond to."

For parents who act on their concern by refusing to allow one or more vaccines to be given to their children, Freed notes that physician reaction varied in the survey data. Ninety percent of the physicians who encountered a single refusal said they noted it on the child's chart, and 19 percent said they required the parent to sign a record of their refusal -- a proportion that rose to 27 percent when all vaccines were refused.

Seventy-three percent of physicians encountering a parent who refused a single vaccine would discuss the vaccine again with the parent at a later visit, and an equal number said they provided additional information to the parent. The proportions were lower whe

Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System

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