One of the main determinants of public immunization success is health professionals' support and recommendations. Little is known about the physicians' level of support and intentions regarding A(H1N1) pandemic influenza vaccination. The aim of this survey was to document Canadian family physicians' and paediatricians' knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) as well as their intentions regarding A(H1N1) pandemic influenza vaccines right before the beginning of the largest immunization campaign in Canadian history.
A self-administered, anonymous, mail-based questionnaire was sent to a random sample of family physicians and to all paediatricians practicing in Canada. All 921 questionnaires received by October 29 2009 were included in the analysis. Between 72% and 92% of respondents agreed with the statements regarding vaccine safety, effectiveness and acceptability. More than 75% of respondents intended to recommend the A(H1N1) pandemic influenza vaccine to their patients and to get vaccinated themselves. The most significant factors associated with the intention to recommend A(H1N1) pandemic vaccines were physicians' intention to be vaccinated against influenza themselves and the perceived acceptability of the vaccine by the vaccinators.
Most Canadian family physicians and paediatricians surveyed were supportive of the A(H1N1) pandemic influenza vaccination before its implementation and large media coverage.
A survey was conducted in a general pediatric practice to determine parents' attitudes to and compliance with the recommended Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine program. Of 133 families surveyed 127 (95%) responded to the questionnaire. About one third of the parents did not have their children vaccinated. The decision against vaccination was made despite parent education, follow-up telephone contact and the pediatrician's expressed support of the vaccine program. Most of the respondents (86%) had no previous knowledge of the vaccine. The factor of greatest concern was the possibility of an adverse reaction. This concern was significantly more common among the parents who decided not to have their children vaccinated than among those who had their children vaccinated (chi 2 = 6.52, p less than 0.025). One third of the parents who indicated that they intended to have their children vaccinated required a telephone reminder. The findings suggest a need for public education about the vaccine, with particular emphasis directed at allaying fears about side effects.
The recent proliferation of studies describing factors associated with HPV vaccine acceptability could inform health care providers in improving vaccine coverage and support future research. This review examined measures of HPV and HPV-vaccine knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and acceptability, described psychometric characteristics, and provided recommendations about their use.
A systematic search of Medline, CINAHL, PsychoInfo, and ERIC through May 2008 for English language reports of quantitative data from parents, young adults or adolescents yielded 79 studies.
The majority of studies were cross-sectional surveys (87%), self-administered (67%), conducted before prophylactic vaccines were publicly available (67%) and utilized convenience samples (65%). Most measured knowledge (80%), general attitudes about HPV vaccination (40%), and willingness to vaccinate one's daughter (26%). Two thirds did not report reliability or validity of measures. The majority did not specify a theoretical framework.
Use of a theoretical framework, consistent labeling of constructs, more rigorous validation of measures, and testing of measures in more diverse samples are needed to yield measurement instruments that will produce findings to guide practitioners in developing successful community and clinical interventions.
human papillomavirus; vaccine; measures; methods; systematic review
In Germany, vaccination against hepatitis B is recommended for infants, children and adolescents since 1995 and for specific target groups since 1982. Little is known about knowledge about viral hepatitis and attitudes toward hepatitis B vaccination-factors likely to influence vaccine uptake.
In order to estimate vaccination coverage in adult target groups and in the overall adult population and to assess knowledge and attitudes, we conducted a nationwide cross-sectional telephone survey among 412 persons in November 2004. We defined participants as being vaccinated if they reported at least one previous vaccination against hepatitis B.
Vaccination coverage (vc) standardised for age, sex and residence was 29.6% in the general population and 58.2% in target groups for hepatitis B vaccination. Particular gaps in vaccine coverage were detected among health care workers (vc: 69.5%) and chronically ill persons (vc: 22.0%). Knowledge on risk factors and transmission was far below expectations, whereas the acceptance of vaccination in the majority of the population (79.0%) was good.
We conclude that educational measures could lead to a higher vaccination uptake in adult target groups.
HIV-positive patients represent an immunosuppressed population at risk for severe influenza. In the event of a pandemic, such as 2009 H1N1, rapid implementation of vaccine clinical trials in target populations will be critical. In the present paper, knowledge and attitudes of HIV-positive adults regarding seasonal/pandemic influenza vaccination were evaluated, and facilitators and barriers to participation in vaccine clinical trials were explored.
A validated, 70-item, self-administered questionnaire was distributed to all HIV patients presenting for routine follow-up at eight Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN) sites from October 2008 to February 2009, as well as all participants in CTN trial 237. This study has representation from all Canadian provinces.
In total, 610 HIV-positive adults responded (298 CTN 237 participants; 312 non-CTN 237 participants). Most reported receiving influenza vaccine last season (83% of CTN 237 participants versus 83% non-CTN 237 participants; P not significant) and most would receive a pandemic influenza vaccine if offered (76% versus 73%; P not significant). A majority believed that it was important to include HIV patients in vaccine clinical trials (65% versus 53%; P<0.001) and would agree to participate in trials of a pandemic vaccine if invited (86% versus 51%; P≤0.0001). Predictors of willingness to participate in a pandemic vaccine trial were ‘desire to be protected from pandemic flu’, OR 4.5 (95% CI 2 to 8) and ‘desire to help others’, OR 2.3 (95% CI 1.3 to 4.5). ‘Fear of needles’, OR 0.49 (95% CI 0.1 to 1.5) and ‘need for extra blood tests’, OR 0.49 (95% CI 0.2 to 1.4) were key barriers to participation.
Most HIV-positive Canadian adults surveyed receive influenza vaccination. Protection from pandemic influenza is considered important and is a motivator for receiving influenza vaccine and future trial participation. Modifiable barriers to these objectives identified in the present study should be the focus of efforts to increase influenza immunization in this population.
HIV-positive adult attitudes; Pandemic influenza; Public health; Vaccine uptake
To examine attitudes and knowledge about vaccinations in postpartum mothers.
This cross-sectional study collected data via written survey to postpartum mothers in a large teaching hospital in Connecticut. We used multivariable analysis to identify mothers who were less trusting with regard to vaccines.
Of 228 mothers who participated in the study, 29% of mothers worried about vaccinating their infants: 23% were worried the vaccines would not work, 11% were worried the doctor would give the wrong vaccine, and 8% worried that “they” are experimenting when they give vaccines. Mothers reported that the most important reasons to vaccinate were to prevent disease in the baby (74%) and in society (11%). Knowledge about vaccination was poor; e.g., 33% correctly matched chicken pox with varicella vaccine. Mothers who were planning to breastfeed (P = .01), were primiparous (P = .01), or had an income <$40,000 but did not receive support from the women, infants, and children (WIC) program were less trusting with regard to vaccines (P = .03). Although 70% wanted information about vaccines during pregnancy, only 18% reported receiving such information during prenatal care.
Although the majority of infants receive vaccines, their mothers have concerns and would like to receive immunization information earlier. Mothers who are primiparous, have low family incomes but do not qualify for the WIC program, or are breastfeeding may need special attention to develop a trusting relationship around vaccination. Mothers would benefit from additional knowledge regarding the risks and benefits of vaccines particularly during prenatal care.
Vaccinations; Mothers; Attitudes; Trust; Postpartum period
Objective: To describe parents' knowledge, attitudes, and decision-making with regard to obtaining the HPV vaccine for their daughters. Methods: White, Black, and Hispanic parents of daughters who were age eligible to receive the HPV vaccine (9–17 years) were recruited from community settings to participate in focus groups. Parents were asked about knowledge and awareness of HPV, decision-making about HPV vaccine, as well as preferred and actual sources of HPV information. Results: Seven focus groups (n = 64 participants) were conducted. Groups were segmented by gender (women = 72%) and race/ethnicity (Black = 59%; White = 23%; Hispanic = 19%). Prevalent themes included: insufficient information to make informed decisions; varied preferences for involvement in decision-making; concerns about vaccine safety; mistrust of medical providers and pharmaceutical companies; and mismatch between actual and preferred sources of information. Discussion: Improving communication between providers and caregivers and helping parents to access information necessary for informed decision-making, while alleviating concerns about vaccine safety, may help to improve vaccine acceptance.
► The acceptability of HPV vaccination in Tanzania was studied qualitatively. ► Non-health workers knew nothing about HPV and HPV vaccines. ► Very few health workers (HWs) knew about HPV and HPV vaccines. ► After a brief explanation most of both groups supported HPV vaccination. ► Community and HW sensitisation will be needed before introducing HPV vaccination.
As human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines become available in developing countries, acceptability studies can help to better understand potential barriers and facilitators of HPV vaccination and guide immunisation programs.
Prior to a cluster-randomised phase IV trial of HPV vaccination delivery strategies in Mwanza Region, Tanzania, qualitative research was conducted to assess attitudes and knowledge about cervical cancer and HPV, and acceptability of and potential barriers to HPV vaccination of Tanzanian primary schoolgirls. Semi-structured interviews (n = 31) and group discussions (n = 12) were conducted with a total of 169 respondents (parents, female pupils, teachers, health workers and religious leaders).
While participants had heard of cancer in general, most respondents had no knowledge of cervical cancer, HPV, or HPV vaccines. Only health workers had heard of cervical cancer but very few knew its cause or had any awareness about HPV vaccines. After participants were provided with information about cervical cancer and HPV vaccination, the majority stated that they would support HPV vaccination of their daughter to protect them against cervical cancer. Opt-out consent for vaccination was considered acceptable. Most preferred age-based vaccination, saying this would target more girls before sexual debut than class-based vaccination. Potential side effects and infertility concerns were raised by 5/14 of participating male teachers.
Reported acceptability of HPV vaccination amongst parents, teachers and other community members was high in this population. Respondents stressed the need to provide adequate information about the vaccine to parents, that also addresses side effects and infertility concerns.
Human papillomavirus; Vaccine; Acceptability; Schools; Barriers; Tanzania
The attitude of the general public to vaccination was evaluated through a survey conducted on a representative sample of the Israeli population (n = 2,018), in which interviewees were requested to express their standpoints regarding five different vaccination programs. These included: pandemic influenza vaccination, seasonal influenza vaccination, travel vaccines, Human Papilloma Virus vaccine and childhood vaccinations. Analysis of the responses reveal three major attitude traits: a) acceptance, characterized by the opinion that targets should be vaccinated; b) individualism, characterized by the opinion that vaccination should be left to personal choice; and c) differentiation, characterized by the tendency to express different attitudes when addressing different vaccination programs. Interestingly, direct opposition to vaccination was found to be a minor attitude trait in this survey. Groups within the population could be defined according to their tendency to assume these different attitudes as Acceptors, Judicious-acceptors, Differentiators, Soft-individualists, and Hard-individualists. These groups expressed different standpoints on all five vaccination programs as well as on other health recommendations, such as screening for early detection of cancer. Attitude traits could be also correlated, to a certain extent, with actual compliance with vaccination programs. Interestingly, attitudes to vaccination were not correlated with social profiles related to income or education, although younger individuals exhibited higher degrees of individualism and differentiation. Taken together, all this is in accordance with the current social settings, underlining the individual's tendency for critical evaluation and self-stirring. This should be taken into consideration by health authorities involved in vaccination programs.
H1N1; HPV; acceptance; attitude; childhood vaccination; differentiation; individualism; influenza; travel vaccines
Excessive consumption of dietary sodium is an important public health issue. Little is known about the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to sodium consumption among Canadians.
To examine knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to sodium consumption among a sample of Canadians 35 to 50 years of age.
A random-digit-dial telephone survey was conducted among adults aged 35 to 50 years of age in two regions in Ontario. Logistic regression was used to examine the likelihood of having taken action in the past 30 days to reduce sodium consumption, and the likelihood that respondents were intending to reduce sodium in the next six months.
A total of 3130 interviews were completed. The majority of respondents were aware of excessive sodium consumption as a health issue and reported that they were taking action to reduce their dietary sodium intake. A large proportion of respondents did not correctly identify many foods as being high in sodium and, consequently, may have incorrectly believed they were consuming healthy amounts of sodium. Respondents who believed sodium reduction was important were more likely to have taken action to reduce sodium within the previous 30 days. Respondents who self-identified as consuming too much sodium were less likely to have taken action.
The findings of the present study suggest that in addition to policy changes designed to reduce the sodium content of foods, there is a need to address the low levels of knowledge surrounding sources of excessive sodium in popular Canadian foods, the importance of a reduced intake of sodium and the availability of lower-sodium alternatives.
Attitudes; Behaviours; Hypertension; Intentions; Knowledge; Prevention; Self-efficacy; Sodium
To survey general practitioners in oncology (GPOs) in British Columbia (BC) to identify opportunities for them to serve as public supporters of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.
A mailed or online survey.
Forty-two GPOs who worked in the community in BC.
Main outcome measures
Current practices, knowledge, and resource needs concerning HPV, the vaccine, and the HPV immunization program, and the willingness of respondents to be contacted to participate in stated public HPV vaccine supporter activities.
The survey found that 42% of surveyed GPOs were willing to act as public supporters of the HPV vaccine. The survey also identified education needs among GPOs concerning HPV, the vaccine, and the HPV immunization program in BC.
This study found that GPOs in BC are willing to publicly support the HPV immunization program. This study shows that involving physicians in the promotion of public health programs is a viable option that should be further explored and evaluated.
During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, a vaccine was made available to all Canadians. Despite efforts to promote vaccination, the public's intent to vaccinate remained low. In order to better understand the public's resistance to getting vaccinated, this study addressed factors that influenced the public's decision making about uptake. To do this, we used a relatively novel source of qualitative data – comments posted on-line in response to news articles on a particular topic. This study analysed 1,796 comments posted in response to 12 articles dealing with H1N1 vaccine on websites of three major Canadian news sources. Articles were selected based on topic and number of comments. A second objective was to assess the extent to which on-line comments can be used as a reliable data source to capture public attitudes during a health crisis. The following seven themes were mentioned in at least 5% of the comments (% indicates the percentage of comments that included the theme): fear of H1N1 (18.8%); responsibility of media (17.8%); government competency (17.7%); government trustworthiness (10.7%); fear of H1N1 vaccine (8.1%); pharmaceutical companies (7.6%); and personal protective measures (5.8%). It is assumed that the more frequently a theme was mentioned, the more that theme influenced decision making about vaccination. These key themes for the public were often not aligned with the issues and information officials perceived, and conveyed, as relevant in the decision making process. The main themes from the comments were consistent with results from surveys and focus groups addressing similar issues, which suggest that on-line comments do provide a reliable source of qualitative data on attitudes and perceptions of issues that emerge in a health crisis. The insights derived from the comments can contribute to improved communication and policy decisions about vaccination in health crises that incorporate the public's views.
During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the global health community sought to make vaccine available “in developing nations in the same timeframe as developed nations.” However, richer nations placed advance orders with manufacturers, leaving poorer nations dependent on the quantity and timing of vaccine donations by manufacturers and rich nations. Knowledge of public support for timely donations could be important to policy makers during the next pandemic. We explored what the United States (US) public believes about vaccine donation by its country to poorer countries.
Methods and Findings
We surveyed 2079 US adults between January 22nd and February 1st 2010 about their beliefs regarding vaccine donation to poorer countries. Income (p = 0.014), objective priority status (p = 0.005), nativity, party affiliation, and political ideology (p<0.001) were significantly related to views on the amount of vaccine to be donated. Though party affiliation and political ideology were related to willingness to donate vaccine (p<0.001), there was bipartisan support for timely donations of 10% of the US vaccine supply so that those “at risk in poorer countries can get the vaccine at the same time” as those at risk in the US.
We suggest that the US and other developed nations would do well to bolster support with education and public discussion on this issue prior to an emerging pandemic when emotional reactions could potentially influence support for donation. We conclude that given our evidence for bipartisan support for timely donations, it may be necessary to design multiple arguments, from utilitarian to moral, to strengthen public and policy makers' support for donations.
Although the Canadian Chiropractic Association and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) endorse vaccination, the prevalence of anti-vaccination attitudes among Canadian chiropractors is unknown. This study describes the prevalence of anti-vaccination attitudes among Canadian chiropractic students.
An 11-item questionnaire about attitudes toward vaccination was distributed to students enrolled at CMCC during the 1999/2000 academic year. The responses for the 11 items were then summed to arrive at a total score ranging from 0 (most negative attitude toward vaccination) to 22 (most positive attitude toward vaccination). Respondents' perceptions of sources of vaccine information were also investigated.
Over 75% of the students (467 of 621) completed the questionnaire. Most students (53.3%) reported that in general they agreed with vaccination. This was especially true among first-year students (60.7%). However, among fourth year students, only 39.5% agreed with vaccination. The proportion of respondents who stated that they were against vaccination in general was 5 (4.5%) of 112 first-year students, 10 (8.3%) of 121 second-year students, 16 (13.9%) of 115 third-year students and 35 (29.4%) of 119 fourth-year students. The mean scores on the questionnaire were progressively lower with each higher year of study at the College. The mean survey scores for each year of study were first year, 15.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 15.2–16.6); second year, 16.1 (95% CI 15.3–17.0); third year, 14.5 (95% CI 13.5–15.4); and fourth year, 12.8 (95% CI 11.7–13.9). The mean scores varied among year of study and were statistically significant using one-way ANOVA (p < 0.0001). Among students who relied primarily on informal sources of vaccine information, such as the chiropractic literature and informal talks at CMCC, anti-vaccination attitudes were more prevalent in later years.
Most CMCC students reported pro-vaccination attitudes, but there appeared to be an increase in anti-vaccination attitudes as students progressed through the CMCC program. This pattern was seen almost exclusively among students who relied primarily on informal sources of vaccine information rather than on core CMCC lectures or prior lectures at university.
Although interruption of endemic measles was achieved in the Americas in 2002, Quebec experienced an outbreak in 2011 of 776 reported cases; 80% of these individuals had not been fully vaccinated. We analyzed readers’ online responses to Canadian news articles regarding the outbreak to better understand public perceptions of measles and vaccination.
We searched Canadian online English and French news sites for articles posted between April 2011 and March 2012 containing the words “measles” and “Quebec”. We included articles that i) concerned the outbreak or related vaccination strategies; and ii) generated at least ten comments. Two English and two bilingual researchers coded the unedited comments, categorizing codes to allow themes to emerge.
We analyzed 448 comments from 188 individuals, in response to three French articles and six English articles; 112 individuals expressed positive perceptions of measles vaccination (2.2 comments/person), 38 were negative (4.2 comments/person), 11 had mixed feelings (1.5 comments/person), and 27 expressed no opinion (1.1 comments/person). Vaccine-supportive themes involved the success of vaccination in preventing disease spread, societal responsibility to vaccinate for herd immunity, and refutation of the autism link. Those against measles vaccination felt it was a personal rather than societal choice, and conveyed a distrust of vaccine manufacturers, believing that measles infection is not only safe but safer than vaccination. Commenters with mixed feelings expressed uncertainty of the infection’s severity, and varied in support of all vaccines based on perceived risk/benefit ratios.
The anti-vaccine minority’s volume of comments translates to a disproportionately high representation on online boards. Public health messages should address concerns by emphasizing that immunization is always a personal choice in Canada, and that the pharmaceutical industry is strictly controlled. Illustrating the dangers of measles through personal stories, rather than scientific data only, may also serve to strengthen messaging.
While the smallpox vaccine, Dryvax or Dryvax-derived ACAM2000, holds potential for public immunization against the spread of smallpox by bioterror, there is serious concern about Dryvax-mediated side effects. Here, we report that a single-dose vaccination regimen comprised of Dryvax and an antiviral agent, cidofovir, could reduce vaccinia viral loads after vaccination and significantly control Dryvax vaccination side effects. However, coadministration of cidofovir and Dryvax also reduced vaccine-elicited immune responses of antibody and T effector cells despite the fact that the reduced priming could be boosted as a recall response after monkeypox virus challenge. Evaluations of four different aspects of vaccine efficacy showed that coadministration of cidofovir and Dryvax compromised the Dryvax-induced immunity against monkeypox, although the covaccinated monkeys exhibited measurable protection against monkeypox compared to that of naïve controls. Thus, the single-dose coadministration of cidofovir and Dryvax effectively controlled vaccination side effects but significantly compromised vaccine-elicited immune responses and vaccine-induced immunity to monkeypox.
Striking a balance between the rapid availability of a novel vaccine while ensuring its safety, quality, and efficacy is a major challenge during a pandemic. We aimed to elucidate physicians’ attitudes regarding the novel vaccine during the influenza A/H1N1 pandemic of 2009, and to determine factors that affected their vaccination recommendations to patients.
Of a random sample of 1,000 general practitioners (GPs) in Japan, 515 participated in the cross-sectional anonymous survey conducted just before the novel vaccine was available (between 28 September and 18 October 2009).
A total of 453 GPs (88.3%) replied that they intended to receive the new vaccine themselves; however, only 177 GPs (34.6%) intended to proactively recommend it to their patients. The anticipated cost of the vaccine negatively influenced the intention to vaccinate themselves and their recommendations to patients (P < 0.001, χ2 test). Results of multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that physicians with experience in influenza A/H1N1 patient contacts [1–20 contacts, odds ratio (OR) = 7.49 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.73–32.36), P = 0.007; >20 contacts, OR = 8.03 (95% CI: 1.77–36.50), P = 0.007, compared with no contacts] were more likely to recommend the vaccine to patients, whereas those with knowledge of the fear on the causal association between Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) cases and the 1976 swine flu vaccination in the USA were less likely to recommend the vaccine [OR = 0.66 (95% CI: 0.45–0.97), P = 0.036].
Results of our survey indicate that physicians experience a moral conflict regarding recommending the novel vaccine to patients, which may be the result of their own experience with the disease, knowledge of vaccine side-effects, and cost.
Vaccine; Pandemic; Professional advice; Safety; Cost
After public notification of confirmed cases of bioterrorism-related anthrax, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emergency Operations Center responded to 11,063 bioterrorism-related telephone calls from October 8 to November 11, 2001. Most calls were inquiries from the public about anthrax vaccines (58.4%), requests for general information on bioterrorism prevention (14.8%), and use of personal protective equipment (12.0%); 882 telephone calls (8.0%) were referred to the state liaison team for follow-up investigation. Of these, 226 (25.6%) included reports of either illness clinically confirmed to be compatible with anthrax or direct exposure to an environment known to be contaminated with Bacillus anthracis. The remaining 656 (74.4%) included no confirmed illness but reported exposures to “suspicious” packages or substances or the receipt of mail through a contaminated facility. Emergency response staff must handle high call volumes following suspected or actual bioterrorist attacks. Standardized health communication protocols that address contact with unknown substances, handling of suspicious mail, and clinical evaluation of suspected cases would allow more efficient follow-up investigations of clinically compatible cases in high-risk groups.
anthrax; bioterrorism; triage; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Knowledge & attitudes of healthcare providers (HCP) have significant impact on frequency with which vaccines are offered & accepted but many HCP are ill equipped to make informed recommendations about vaccine merits & risks. We performed an assessment of the educational needs of trainees regarding immunization and used the information thus ascertained to develop multi-faceted, evaluable, educational tools which can be integrated into formal education curricula.
(i) A questionnaire was sent to all Canadian nursing, medical & pharmacy schools to assess immunization-related curriculum content (ii) A 77-item web-based, validated questionnaire was emailed to final-year students in medicine, nursing, & pharmacy at two universities in Nova Scotia, Canada to assess knowledge, attitudes, & behaviors reflecting current immunization curriculum.
The curriculum review yielded responses from 18%, 48%, & 56% of medical, nursing, & pharmacy schools, respectively. Time spent on immunization content varied substantially between & within disciplines from <1 to >50 hrs. Most schools reported some content regarding vaccine preventable diseases, immunization practice & clinical skills but there was considerable variability and fewer schools had learning objectives or formal evaluation in these areas. 74% of respondents didn't feel comfortable discussing vaccine side effects with parents/patients & only 21% felt they received adequate teaching regarding immunization during training.
Important gaps were identified in the knowledge of graduating nursing, medical, & pharmacy trainees regarding vaccine indications/contraindications, adverse events & safety. The national curriculum review revealed wide variability in immunization curriculum content & evaluation. There is clearly a need for educators to assess current curricula and adapt existing educational resources such as the Immunization Competencies for Health Professionals in Canada.
Although epidemiologic evidence has not supported the hypothesis of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, concerns continue about pediatric exposure to mercury through vaccine administration. A statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Public Health Service in 1999 prompted the removal of thimerosal from many vaccines. In 2004, the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the Institute of Medicine rejected the hypothesis of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.
In a search of MEDLINE and EMBASE, we identified articles that address the potential association between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically autism. In this article, we review recent pharmacokinetic and epidemiologic studies published between 2003 and 2008 regarding the proposed link between thimerosal and autism.
autism; mercury; pediatrics; thimerosal; vaccines
To develop a survey to accurately assess parental vaccine hesitancy.
The initial survey contained 17 items in four content domains: (1) immunization behavior; (2) beliefs about vaccine safety and efficacy; (3) attitudes about vaccine mandates and exemptions; and (4) trust. Focus group data yielded an additional 10 survey items. Expert review of the survey resulted in the deletion of nine of 27 items and revisions to 11 of the remaining 18 survey items. Parent pretesting resulted in the deletion of one item, the addition of one item, the revision of four items, and formatting changes to enhance usability. The final survey contains 18 items in the original four content domains.
An iterative process was used to develop the survey. First, we reviewed previous studies and surveys on parental health beliefs regarding vaccination to develop content domains and draft initial survey items. Focus groups of parents and pediatricians generated additional themes and survey items. Six immunization experts reviewed the items in the resulting draft survey and ranked them on a 1–5 scale for significance in identifying vaccine-hesitant parents (5 indicative of a highly significant item). The lowest third of ranked items were dropped. The revised survey was pretested with 25 parents to assess face validity, usability and item understandability.
The Parent Attitudes about Childhood Vaccines survey was constructed using qualitative methodology to identify vaccine-hesitant parents and has content and face validity. Further psychometric testing is needed.
pediatrics; vaccination; public health practice; preventive health services; questionnaires
In the event that a vaccine is available during an influenza pandemic, vaccine safety monitoring will occur as part of comprehensive public health surveillance of the vaccination campaign. Though inactivated influenza vaccines have been widely used in the United States and much is known about their safety profile, attention will need to be paid to both common self-limited adverse reactions and rarer, more serious events that may or may not be causally related to vaccination. The primary surveillance systems used to generate and test hypotheses about vaccine safety concerns are the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), respectively. Examples of recent use of these systems to investigate influenza vaccine safety and enhancements planned for use during a pandemic are presented. Ethical issues that will need to be addressed as part of an overall vaccine safety response include risk communication and injury compensation. Advance planning and the use of available technologic solutions are needed to respond to the scientific and logistic challenges involved in safely implementing mass vaccination during a pandemic.
Although measles has not been endemic in the U.S. since 1997 due to high vaccination coverage, recent U.S. measles outbreaks have been associated with individuals and groups who have refused vaccination for philosophical, cultural, or religious reasons. One such outbreak occurred in Indiana among a group of church members in May and June of 2005. Our objectives were to: (1) determine attitudes and beliefs of church leaders and members regarding vaccinations and the outbreak experience, (2) describe reasons for vaccine acceptance and nonacceptance, and (3) assess the feasibility of a knowledge and attitudes study in the context of a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak.
We conducted a focus group with church leaders and families and held 12 structured household interviews with church members directly and indirectly involved in the outbreaks.
A combination of safety concerns, personal experience, and religious beliefs contributed to vaccination refusal among a subgroup of church members. While the experience with measles disease did not necessarily translate into a more positive perception of vaccines, most families that refused vaccination would accept some future vaccines under unique circumstances, such as disease presence in the community or if vaccination could be delayed until a child was older.
Lessons learned from this outbreak experience can inform future outbreak investigations elsewhere. Maintaining open communication with parents who refuse immunizations, as well as working with their trusted social networks, can help public health professionals facilitate alternative means of disease control during a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak in the community.
Immunizations have reduced childhood vaccine preventable disease incidence by 98–100%. Continued vaccine preventable disease control depends on high immunization coverage. Immunization registries help ensure high coverage by recording childhood immunizations administered, generating reminders when immunizations are due, calculating immunization coverage and identifying pockets needing immunization services, and improving vaccine safety by reducing over-immunization and providing data for post-licensure vaccine safety studies. Despite substantial resources directed towards registry development in the U.S., only 48% of children were enrolled in a registry in 2004. Parental attitudes likely impact child participation. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to assess the attitudes of parents of vaccinated and unvaccinated school-aged children regarding: support for immunization registries; laws authorizing registries and mandating provider reporting; opt-in versus opt-out registry participation; and financial worth and responsibility of registry development and implementation.
A case control study of parents of 815 children exempt from school vaccination requirements and 1630 fully vaccinated children was conducted. Children were recruited from 112 elementary schools in Colorado, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Washington. Surveys administered to the parents, asked about views on registries and perceived utility and safety of vaccines. Parental views were summarized and logistic regression models compared differences between parents of exempt and vaccinated children.
Surveys were completed by 56.1% of respondents. Fewer than 10% of parents were aware of immunization registries in their communities. Among parents aware of registries, exempt children were more likely to be enrolled (65.0%) than vaccinated children (26.5%) (p value = 0.01). A substantial proportion of parents of exempt children support immunization registries, particularly if registries offer choice for participation. Few parents of vaccinated (6.8%) and exempt children (6.7%) were aware of laws authorizing immunization registries. Support for laws authorizing registries and requiring health care providers to report to registries was more common among parents of vaccinated than exempt children. Most parents believed that the government, vaccine companies or insurance companies should pay for registries.
Parental support for registries was relatively high. Parental support for immunization registries may increase with greater parental awareness of the risks of vaccine preventable diseases and utility of vaccination.
Background Recent cases of laboratory-acquired vaccinia virus (VV) infection highlight the need for laboratory safety.
Aims To determine laboratory worker adherence to the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices smallpox vaccination recommendations, assess potential barriers to vaccination and determine the influence of training on laboratory worker attitudes.
Methods Ninety-two laboratory workers in Pennsylvania were contacted and asked to complete an online survey about VV usage; 45 responded.
Results Eighty-seven per cent had received a smallpox vaccination in their lifetime; 73% received vaccination in the past 10 years. More workers had been given training regarding the potential risks, versus the potential benefits of vaccination, and most perceived that adverse outcomes were more likely to occur following vaccination versus accidental infection.
Conclusions The results of this study suggest that the main barrier to vaccination may be fear associated with possible vaccine adverse effects and a willingness to risk accidental infection rather than be vaccinated. More information and training about the potential benefits of vaccination, as well as the potential adverse outcomes associated with accidental infection, is therefore warranted.
Knowledge attitudes and practices; smallpox vaccine; vaccinia virus; WR-vaccinia