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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Doctors ID New Ways to Get More Kids Vaccinated

Messages that focus on benefits to the child have the most impact, study finds


Byington said refusal of vitamin K at birth "is a factor that can help pediatricians identify vaccine-hesitant parents."

But how to convince those parents of the importance of vaccination?

Indiana University researchers tested four messages in a national online survey involving more than 800 parents of children younger than 12 months old. "We wanted to get parents where we knew this would be an upcoming decision for them, where they were thinking about doing it but hadn't done it yet," said lead author Kristin Hendrix, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

The messages, which advocated for the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination (MMR), included: a simple vaccine information statement from the CDC; the CDC statement plus information on the vaccine's benefits to the child; the CDC statement and mention of societal benefits of vaccination; and the CDC statement plus information on the importance of vaccination for their child and society as a whole.

Messages that focused on the benefits to the child had the most impact, researchers found.

More than 90 percent of parents who heard the child-focused message or the combination child-society message said they intend to get their infant vaccinated, compared with 86 percent of parents who received just the basic CDC information.

"We found parents who received the information that really drove home the benefits directly to their child, that was the information that really resonated and resulted in the highest levels of intent to vaccinate," said Hendrix.

The CDC has worked hard to create a less confusing immunization schedule for parents to follow, said Dr. Jennifer Frost, medical director of the Health of the Public and Science Division of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Despite this, "I think hesitancy is increasing, and that's a problem," Frost said. "There's a lot of information on the Web that parents look at and believe because it's out there, and it can be very hard to counter."

Vaccines are safe and effective, Frost added. "Parents who are hesitant -- even though they think they are doing it for the benefit of their child -- are actually putting their child at risk," she said.

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