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October 27, 2020 04:00am
By Aislinn Antrim, Assistant Editor
Despite parents' growing understanding of the importance of childhood vaccines, a number of first-time expectant mothers do not plan to adhere to the recommended immunization schedule for their children.
Despite parents’ growing understanding of the importance of childhood vaccines, a number of first-time expectant mothers do not plan to adhere to the recommended immunization schedule for their children.
Glen Nowak, PhD, a researcher behind these new study findings, explained toContemporary Clinicthat mothers who choose not to follow recommended childhood vaccine schedules often do so because they are unaware of the risks of forgoing immunization.
“Thanks to high vaccination rates, vaccine-preventable diseases are quite rare in the United States. This leads some to believe these diseases are not a threat or danger to their child,” Dr. Nowak said. “Some don't believe or realize vaccine-preventable diseases can—and do—cause serious harm, including to otherwise healthy infants and young children.”
Dr. Nowak emphasized that delaying or declining a recommended vaccination can leave a child at risk for a number of preventable diseases, but he added that health care providers—including retail clinicians—can close knowledge gaps among parents by educating them about the benefits of immunization while addressing their concerns.
“For many in our study, family, friends, and the Internet were the most commonly used vaccine information sources. It would be helpful for these women to also get information from nurse practitioners and physician assistants,” he toldContemporary Clinic.
In the study, which was published in theAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, Dr. Nowak and his colleagues surveyed 200 first-time expectant mothers in an attempt to assess their immunization plans for their children and their beliefs about vaccination.
While 75% of the participants intended to follow the recommended immunization schedule, 10.5% planned to spread out the vaccinations, and 4% planned to have their children receive only some of the recommended shots. The remaining 10.5% were undecided on their plans as of their second trimester.
Expectant mothers who did not plan to have their children vaccinated at all—who are estimated to comprise approximately 1% of all parents—were excluded from the study.
The survey also revealed that the vast majority of expectant mothers regarded immunization as either important (25%) or very important (59.5%) to their children’s health. However, many of those who did not plan to adhere to the recommended schedule or who were unsure about their vaccination plans expressed doubts about the safety and effectiveness of commonly recommended vaccines, with undecided mothers reporting particularly low levels of confidence.
“Since vaccine safety is often a primary concern, information that helps first-time parents better understand how vaccines work to protect children, the reasons vaccines are given to infants, and what to expect during and after vaccination visits would be helpful,” Dr. Nowak toldContemporary Clinic.