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Survey to explore vaccination fears

Researchers are hoping to get to the sharp end of parents’ fears about childhood vaccinations by conducting a nationwide survey.

A team from the University of Queensland’s Parenting and Family Support Centre is asking parents of children 5 years old and younger to participate in a survey of attitudes towards vaccination. This would be the first nationwide research program into the issue for almost two decades.

Dr Cassandra Dittman, lead researcher for the program, said the survey sought to uncover what parents thought about vaccine effectiveness and safety. Researchers also hope to give an insight into the sources of information parents consult when making vaccination decisions, and how these sources relate to vaccination rates and attitudes.

Dittman also said many parents were not strongly opposed to vaccines, but were rather hesitant.

“These are parents who might express hesitancy by delaying vaccines, refusing some vaccines but accepting others, or by vaccinating their child but still feeling concerned or uncertain about the fact that they have done so,” she said. “As a researcher, I know and understand that vaccines work and are safe, but as a parent of a toddler, when I come across the latest emotive story about the risks or side effects, my natural inclination, like any parent, is to worry, ‘What if this happened to my child?’ ”

Dittman also said the survey had the potential to provide health professionals the tools to help parents in their decision-making.

Parents interested in participation should contact UQ.


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