Meeting News Coverage

Pediatricians must be advocates for influenza vaccine, reinforce need for annual immunization

WASHINGTON — A mother’s knowledge is power, suggests the results of a new study presented here this week during the 45th Annual National Immunization Conference.

Past studies have shown that it is the matriarch of the household who is mostly responsible for making health care-related decisions. Therefore, Carol J. Baker, MD, professor of pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine/Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research at Texas Children’s Hospital, and colleagues decided to assess mothers’ attitudes toward immunization and how to increase uptake.

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) research revealed that influenza H1N1 motivated some mothers to get their children vaccinated for influenza. However, barriers to vaccination remained, so the NFID created the Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition to try and educate parents about the benefits of vaccines and encourage physicians to eagerly advise parents to have their children immunized with influenza vaccine.

“Mothers need direction to wade through the information overload that they got last year,” Baker said. “A physician’s recommendation continues to motivate mothers to vaccinate their children against influenza.”

For the study on mothers’ attitudes toward influenza immunization, Baker, who is past president of NFID and current chair of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and colleagues conducted a national telephone survey in August among 709 mothers living with children aged 6 months to 18 years.

The data indicated that 80% of mothers reported no change in 2010 in intent to vaccinate their children against influenza. Mothers who changed their mind were eight times more likely to choose to immunize rather than not to immunize. Sixteen percent of mothers surveyed said they were more likely this year compared with past years to get their child vaccinated against flu, and this number rose to 22% in Hispanic mothers.

“What we don’t know is how many of these mothers actually went on to have their children immunized,” Baker said. “But it’s encouraging to see these positive changes in attitude.”

The findings also indicated that most (75%) mothers were aware of the new ACIP recommendations to immunize everyone aged 6 months and older (unless contraindicated). Those who were aware were more likely to immunize, correlating with higher vaccination intent. When mothers were asked to cite the most important reason for immunizing their children against influenza, protecting others was the top choice. Messages emphasizing vaccine safety, disease severity and family protection were the most motivating reasons across all ethnicities.

Barriers to immunization included that mothers may not understand how vaccination works to protect their children. The survey data showed that the pediatrician left the decision to vaccinate up to them, and they decided not to immunize.

More than three in four non-vaccinating mothers (77%) cited absence of strong pediatrician recommendation as a reason; pediatricians were the “first choice” for influenza vaccination information among 69% of mothers.

“This shows the negative influence of pediatricians,” Baker said. “If they don’t make a recommendation to vaccinate or they leave the decision up to the parents, it can be a negative influence.”

The study reported that additional barriers to immunization persist, which include concerns over vaccine safety, misinformation and myths that vaccination is unnecessary for healthy children and belief that influenza is a mild illness.

“Of interest, African-American mothers were more likely to cite not wanting to put unknown substances in their child’s body, or the belief that their children are healthy and don’t need the vaccine, compared with white or Hispanic mothers,” Baker said. “All members of the health care community need to be more proactive in recommending flu vaccination. We need to provide simple to understand, timely information about safety of vaccine. This is insight into ethnic. We need to take into account with whom we are speaking with and provide proper messages.”

“Despite an encouraging link between universal recommendation awareness and positive intent, strong pediatrician recommendation and debunking of lingering myths will be critical to ensure vaccination,” the researchers concluded. “Findings are being integrated into strategic messaging and creative communications to educate parents and harness health care professionals’ influence.”

The study was supported partially by a grant from Sanofi-Pasteur.

For more information on the new NFID program, go to www.preventchildhoodinfluenza.org.

For more information:

Twitter Follow the PediatricSuperSite.com on Twitter.

WASHINGTON — A mother’s knowledge is power, suggests the results of a new study presented here this week during the 45th Annual National Immunization Conference.

Past studies have shown that it is the matriarch of the household who is mostly responsible for making health care-related decisions. Therefore, Carol J. Baker, MD, professor of pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine/Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research at Texas Children’s Hospital, and colleagues decided to assess mothers’ attitudes toward immunization and how to increase uptake.

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) research revealed that influenza H1N1 motivated some mothers to get their children vaccinated for influenza. However, barriers to vaccination remained, so the NFID created the Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition to try and educate parents about the benefits of vaccines and encourage physicians to eagerly advise parents to have their children immunized with influenza vaccine.

“Mothers need direction to wade through the information overload that they got last year,” Baker said. “A physician’s recommendation continues to motivate mothers to vaccinate their children against influenza.”

For the study on mothers’ attitudes toward influenza immunization, Baker, who is past president of NFID and current chair of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and colleagues conducted a national telephone survey in August among 709 mothers living with children aged 6 months to 18 years.

The data indicated that 80% of mothers reported no change in 2010 in intent to vaccinate their children against influenza. Mothers who changed their mind were eight times more likely to choose to immunize rather than not to immunize. Sixteen percent of mothers surveyed said they were more likely this year compared with past years to get their child vaccinated against flu, and this number rose to 22% in Hispanic mothers.

“What we don’t know is how many of these mothers actually went on to have their children immunized,” Baker said. “But it’s encouraging to see these positive changes in attitude.”

The findings also indicated that most (75%) mothers were aware of the new ACIP recommendations to immunize everyone aged 6 months and older (unless contraindicated). Those who were aware were more likely to immunize, correlating with higher vaccination intent. When mothers were asked to cite the most important reason for immunizing their children against influenza, protecting others was the top choice. Messages emphasizing vaccine safety, disease severity and family protection were the most motivating reasons across all ethnicities.

Barriers to immunization included that mothers may not understand how vaccination works to protect their children. The survey data showed that the pediatrician left the decision to vaccinate up to them, and they decided not to immunize.

More than three in four non-vaccinating mothers (77%) cited absence of strong pediatrician recommendation as a reason; pediatricians were the “first choice” for influenza vaccination information among 69% of mothers.

“This shows the negative influence of pediatricians,” Baker said. “If they don’t make a recommendation to vaccinate or they leave the decision up to the parents, it can be a negative influence.”

The study reported that additional barriers to immunization persist, which include concerns over vaccine safety, misinformation and myths that vaccination is unnecessary for healthy children and belief that influenza is a mild illness.

“Of interest, African-American mothers were more likely to cite not wanting to put unknown substances in their child’s body, or the belief that their children are healthy and don’t need the vaccine, compared with white or Hispanic mothers,” Baker said. “All members of the health care community need to be more proactive in recommending flu vaccination. We need to provide simple to understand, timely information about safety of vaccine. This is insight into ethnic. We need to take into account with whom we are speaking with and provide proper messages.”

“Despite an encouraging link between universal recommendation awareness and positive intent, strong pediatrician recommendation and debunking of lingering myths will be critical to ensure vaccination,” the researchers concluded. “Findings are being integrated into strategic messaging and creative communications to educate parents and harness health care professionals’ influence.”

The study was supported partially by a grant from Sanofi-Pasteur.

For more information on the new NFID program, go to www.preventchildhoodinfluenza.org.

For more information:

Twitter Follow the PediatricSuperSite.com on Twitter.

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