Survey: More Parents Accepting Vaccine Use
Aug. 17, 2015 — Fewer parents may be refusing to vaccinate their children, especially in western states, which have had some of the nation’s highest refusal rates, according to new survey data from Medscape.
Forty-two percent of health care professionals said they believed more parents are accepting vaccines, and 38% said parents are more accepting of measles vaccination in particular, according to the Medscape Vaccine Acceptance Report. The online survey of 1,577 pediatricians, family doctors, public health doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants was conducted last month.
Even so, a third of those surveyed said they had not seen any changes in parents’ willingness to accept vaccinations.
Some states in the Western region of the country, which included Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, were hit by a well-publicized measles outbreak in 2014. Health care professionals in that region reported higher rates of acceptance for measles vaccines (46% vs 36% for the rest of the country) and for all vaccines (51% vs 41%).
“Overall, this is encouraging,” said Amanda Cohn, MD, deputy director of the CDC’s Immunization Services Division. But, she said, “It will take some time to see changes in parental choice in vaccination demonstrated through data.”
According to the Medscape survey, parents were most likely to refuse or request an alternate vaccination schedule for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, 58% of clinicians said. These were followed by the varicella (28%), hepatitis B (23%), hepatitis A (18%), and diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (17%) vaccines.
The survey was taken as measles cases continued to increase in the United States. This year and last have been record-setting, with 668 cases from 27 states reported to the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in 2014, and 183 cases in 24 states and Washington, DC, reported through the end of July this year.
A large outbreak (383 cases) happened among a group of unvaccinated Amish people in Ohio last year, but the outbreak that was traced to a foreign visitor at Disneyland in December 2014 garnered more media attention and may have contributed to some parents’ willingness to accept vaccination, according to survey respondents.
“More parents read the news and are open to counseling,” said one respondent. Other survey respondents said that parents were asking more questions, but that those who were against vaccines were still hesitant.