Parents remain concerned about vaccine safetyOver half of all parents have concerns about serious side-effects of vaccines. A recently published survey of over 1,500 representative US parents found that concerns over vaccine safety are common despite widespread propaganda publicising their safety. A quarter of all parents had concerns that vaccines can cause autism in healthy children and 1 in 8 parents had refused at least one vaccine recommended by their child's doctor.
This research shows that parents refuse to be fobbed off by bland reassurances over vaccine safety and are - quite rightly in my opinion - questioning the benefit of adding ever more vaccines to the national schedules. Indeed the vaccines most likely to have been refused are those most recently introduced, especially the controversial HPV vaccine targeted at teenage girls.
A significant proportion of parents based their decision to refuse a vaccine on personal experience: 40% of those refusing to give their child the MMR vaccine did so because they personally knew of someone who had experienced a harmful reaction from the vaccine.
Instead of redesigning vaccine information programs, as suggested by the authors of this paper, the authorities need to respond to parents' justifiable concerns by admitting that vaccines can have negative effects (as well as positive ones) and doing more objective and transparent research into vaccine safety.
Added 7 March 2010