What do health consumers want to know about childhood vaccination?
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Vaccines are crucial to population health. Nevertheless, there are multiple barriers for parents or carers to vaccinate their children, resulting in lower than required population immunisation coverage.
This study aimed to identify the information needs and concerns of health consumer regarding childhood vaccination.
We conducted a retrospective, mixed method study of 1,342 childhood vaccination-related calls to an Australian consumer medicines call centre, NPS Medicines Line (September 2002-June 2010). Call narratives were explored to identify the key themes. Themes were compared for callers from high and low immunisation coverage areas (National Health Performance Authority data linked to caller postcode).
Vaccines that raised the most questions were the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (29.9%), combined diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, poliomyelitis, Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (18.5%) and varicella vaccine (17.5%). The most commonly identified theme was safety concerns (60.4%), with questions about vaccine constituents as the predominant issue (31.6%). Other common themes involved adverse drug reactions (12.2%) and general vaccine information (10.4%). The most important difference between low and high immunisation areas was the higher level of concern about vaccine preservatives (mercury and thiomersal) in low immunisation areas.
The consistent number of vaccine-related calls, particularly about safety, demonstrates an information gap that can act as a barrier to vaccination. Improving health professionals’ awareness of the immunisation rate in their local area and the concerns that act as barriers to vaccination uptake for their patients can help to fill the information gap and improve immunisation coverage.
This document has been peer reviewed.