Children whose parents had received an influenza vaccine are 2.77 times more likely to be immunized against seasonal influenza and were more likely to be compliant with other recommended immunizations, including HPV, according to recent study findings.
“Most parents voluntarily follow the recommended childhood immunization schedule, although a substantial minority of parents are vaccine hesitant and likely to miss [at least] one recommended immunization,” Steve G. Robison, MPH, and Andrew W. Osborn, MBA, from the Oregon Immunization Program at the Oregon Health Division, wrote. “Parental vaccine hesitancy is a common and well-recognized factor in incomplete childhood immunizations.”
Robison and Osborn also noted that current vaccine hesitancy rates are concerning when considering public health issues, mainly due to risk of outbreak, reduced safety for unimmunized or delayed infants, and increasing exemptions for school immunization mandates. The researchers have additional worries that recommended vaccines are not always covered by school mandates, leaving the issues of compliance and vaccine-hesitant adults for providers.
To assess the connection between parental immunization behavior and a child’s likelihood of being vaccinated, the researchers recognized pairs of adult caregivers and children for children between 9 months and 17 years in the Oregon ALERT Immunization Information System. Influenza vaccine concordance was assessed for each pair in influenza seasons between 2010 and 2011, and 2014 and 2015. Adult immunization was also assessed to predict whether a child would receive other, noninfluenza recommended vaccines.
Among the 450,687 caregiver and child pairs assessed, children paired with adults who were vaccinated were 2.77 times more likely to vaccinate for influenza across all seasons. Regarding noninfluenza immunizations such as HPV, researchers noted a significant correlation between adult immunization status and child immunization status. When vaccine-hesitant adults changed their immunization status, their child was 5.44 times more likely to be vaccinated against influenza.
“[These findings indicate] that parents’ own behavior is dynamically related to their children’s immunizations, as opposed to a weaker and static finding that parent and child immunizations are correlated,” Robison and Osborn wrote.” Implications of this dynamic relationship are that interventions targeting parents may lead to increased children’s immunization rates and, conversely, that not including parents and families in interventions aimed at improving childhood immunizations may limit their potential for success.” — by Katherine Bortz
Disclosures: The authors report no financial disclosures or conflicts of interest.